Dallas Summer Musicals Brings The Magic of Cinderella to Dallas

Cinderella_Poster_WebDallas Summer Musicals presents the 2013 Tony Award Winning Broadway Musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA!  The production is playing for a limited engagement at the Music Hall at Fair Park from June 9-21 and is then moving to Fort Worth’s Bass Performance Hall from June 23-28th  

It was Opening Night of CINDERELLA and I’ve never seen so many little princesses wearing their princess costumes in one place outside of Disneyland.  I’m pretty sure that the musical lived up to all of their expectations, I know it did mine.   Adjectives such as beautiful, enchanting, magical, and amazing come to mind.  This production of CINDERELLA combines the classic story’s elements of the wicked stepmother and sisters, handsome prince, glass slipper, and pumpkin with a few contemporary additions.  Our heroine in this story is spirited and loving but will fight to make her dreams come true.  The production is romantic, funny, beautiful costumes and sets, and includes classic songs such as “In My Own Little Corner”. The leads played by Paige Faure and Andy Huntington Jones deliver outstanding performances and you will love Kecia Lewis’ performance as the spirited and over the top Fairy Godmother.  When you go make sure you don’t miss the unique, magical, and twirling costume changes/transformations throughout the musical.

 Cinderella DSM Final

Did you know?  That CINDERELLA was written for television — debuting in 1957 starring Julie Andrews?   In 2013, the show made its long-overdue Broadway debut. CINDERELLA has music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and original book by Oscar Hammerstein II.



Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to share this magical musical with your own little princess or prince!


Single tickets for CINDERELLA, from $25-$98 (pricing subject to change), are now on sale online at DallasSummerMusicals.org,  by phone at 1.800.514.ETIX (3849), and at The Box Office, 5959 Royal Lane, Suite 542 in Dallas, TX.

Dallas Summer Musicals 75th Anniversary Season will continue as follows:

Dirty Dancing, June 23-July 5, 2015

Pippin, July 7-19, 2015

The Illusionists Bring Magic to Dallas Summer Musicals!

illusionists_musichallsiteheader2The Illusionists “Witness the Impossible” opened their show on Tuesday at the Music Hall in Fair Park with some eye popping acts.  This world’s bestselling touring magic show is playing at Fair Park as part of DSM’s 75th Anniversary Season line up and is ready to amaze North Texas audiences.

First of all, this isn’t your parents’ Magic Show.  It showcases the “magic” talents of seven of the most incredible illusionists in the world with acts that are futuristic, classic, and edgy.  I took my 17 year son, Jared to the show to get his reaction to the show as a teenage boy.  Jared loves comedy and admittedly has high standards for what he considers entertainment.  He was thoroughly entertained and blown away by some of the magic tricks.  His favorite Illusionist was “The Trickster”.  As “The Trickster”, Jeff Hobson is the epitome of showmanship with his over the top comedy routine and  impressive magic acts.  Imagine a cross between Liberace and the funniest comedian you can imagine.  He emcees and entertains the audience throughout the show.  We are still laughing today about some of his funny comedy lines.  Illusionists2.jpg4
Jared’s next favorite act was “The Manipulator”.  Yu Ho-Jin is from South Korea and is considered the rising superstar in the world of magic and was recently named the 2014 “Magician of the Year” by the Academy of Magical Arts.  You cannot take your eyes off of him as he performs his card tricks.  I know what you’re probably saying to yourself, “What’s new and fantastic about card tricks”? Well, you will have to see his act for yourself to understand it.  He manipulates the cards in such a lyrical, fluid, and mystical manner that you are mesmerized from start to finish.Illusionists2Also entertaining was the young and very high energy Illusionist, “The Futurist”.  Adam Trent who has been compared to the Justin Timberlake of Magic brings CGI into his magic act along with some very impressive card tricks and performance magic imagery.Illusionists_Poster_Web.jpg2There is also the “magic meets Goth”  Illusionist “The Anti-Conjuror”, Dan Sperry.  He combines magic with the macabre. Dan who apparently is one of the top 10 most Googled people in the world, starts out kind of creepy (very creepy actually) but has some very funny moments in his game of Russian Roulette/magic act with an audience member.  He finishes his performance of the night with an incredibly mesmerizing magic act by conjuring up a whole menagerie of flying birds while wearing a Count Dracula like costume.   How do these artists come up with these ideas?the illusionistsThere are some “classic magic” Illusionists in the show if that’s how you prefer your magic shows.  “The Inventor” Kevin James, delivers some very innovative illusions and is well known and celebrated in the magic world for his tricks.  Also “The Escapologist”, Andrew Basso performs his own Houdini version of escaping from the famous Water Torture Cell.  You hold your breath along with him for the whole three minutes that he is underwater.  And last but not least is the strong and silent Illusionist, “The Warrior”,  Aaron Crow.  He specializes in weaponry magic.  Not speaking a word throughout his act he delivers probably the most dangerous act using swords, paintball guns, and crossbows.Illusionists2.jpg3Did I mention there is a lot of audience participation?  It makes it fun but it can give you some anxiety if you’d rather not be on stage.  Kids are asked to participate in several tricks and as we all know, most kids love being part of the act.   The audience participation gives you the feeling that you are part of the magic.   FYI – The Magicians don’t force anyone to participate and there are always willing volunteers, so don’t stay away based on that!
Illusionists 156Our family’s final review?  There is something in the show for everyone, young and old.  My husband thought parts of it were very funny (he loved “The Trickster” Illusionist too) and is still trying to figure out how they accomplished most of the tricks, my 17 year old was thoroughly entertained from start to finish, and I thought the show was very entertaining and high energy throughout.  We give “The Illusionists” six thumbs up!

“The Illusionists” Witness the Impossible is at Fair Park from April 7-19, 2015.

For Tickets go to: http://www.dallassummermusicals.org/shows_illusionists.shtm

Dallas Summer Musicals brings The King and I to Dallas

thekingandiDallas Summer Musicals continues their 75 anniversary season with their current production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I.  Like last year’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, DSM is producing the show themselves.  This exciting new production features a revamped script, timeless songs, and a new physical production with an entirely fresh interpretation of the musical.  This is a great musical for both adults and kids.

If you’re not familiar with the story of the musical here’s a short summary: East meets West in 1862 in the country of Siam when a very proper English widow, Anna and her young son arrive at the Royal Palace in Bangkok to tutor the king’s many children and wives. The King, is considered to be backward and a barbarian by Westerner standards and wants Anna’s assistance in changing his image. Through Anna’s teachings and devotion to the King’s family the two grow to understand and respect each other in a unique and touching love story. The quizzical king and the English tutor develop a bond that transcends their cultural differences.thekingandimusicalBroadway veteran Rachel York, stars as Anna. If you shut your eyes you would swear that Julie Andrews herself is on stage, she’s that good. She has an incredible voice and has a delightful chemistry with the King who is played by Alan Ariano. The classic songs were a delight to hear again and made me want to sing along with them. The two actors who played the forbidden lovers were showstoppers when they sang “We Kiss in a Shadow”. The sets were fresh and colorful as were the beautiful costumes. One of my favorite parts of the musical is the extremely creative Jerome Robbins ballet, “The Small House of Uncle Thomas”. It encompasses the humor of the story and the exotic nature of a country that most of us Westerners can’t understand but appreciate. I would go see the musical again just to experience this performance again.

Did you know? In 1895, the second revival of The King and I opened at the Broadway Theatre, where it ran for 191 performances. It won Yul Brynner a special Tony Award for his 4,525th performance in the role of King.

The King and I continues through April 5th at Fair Park Music Hall, 909 First Avenue, Dallas, $98-$108.  214-346-3300, dallassummermusicals.org

The King and I JackieAs a former season DSM ticket holder, I am very excited about this year’s 75th anniversary line up of shows because it bring to town several new and classic shows that we haven’t seen in Dallas.  Tune in for Real Posh Mom Reviews for the upcoming shows at DSM:

Coming up next is The Illusionists, April 7-19, 2015.  This bestselling touring magic show is a mind blowing spectacular showcasing the jaw-dropping talents of seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, June 9-21, 2015

Dirty Dancing, June 23-July 5, 2015

Pippin, July 7-19, 2015

The Center Stage Studio (and My Second Childhood)

CSS's cast of Annie takes a bow

CSS’s cast of Annie takes a bow

When we first realize that our child is interested in our own passions, the first thought is elation. I KNOW that! I know how that world works, I did it once too! We can chat with the other adults running the program as if we are old colleagues. We know the requirements, the routines, the general culture around it. And of course there’s that evolutionary parent pride, knowing that they must have gotten some gene that made them more like you.

CSS summer camp production of Matilda

CSS summer camp production of Matilda

But then the next emotions come through: yeah, I know that world. I remember the hard work, the heartbreak, and all the things about it that scared me and made me doubt myself.  Is that what my child will go through? How will she balance it all? Will she be better than me? And I worry, have I subconsciously pushed her into something she wouldn’t have otherwise chosen? I’ve certainly taken her to more theater than sports events. I’ve sung show tunes as lullabies since the day she was born. I will plunk down money to see a show faster than for clothes or beauty products (obviously), and surely she’s sensed that. So how can I make sure that she only does it because she really wants to?

Inara as Miss Hannigan in Annie

Inara as Miss Hannigan in Annie

Thankfully when we moved out here to Southern California, I found The Center Stage Studio, a triple threat school in Orange County (Aliso Viejo), California. We have a 30-minute drive from Laguna Beach and it is well worth it for what they do. Triple Threat in that world means acting, singing and dancing, the foundation skills of a successful career on the stage, specifically in musical theater. Each semester a new show is chosen, and there are classes every day of the week that kids can join. Each class has its own cast, and everyone gets a part regardless of their level of training or talent. The mini versions of Broadway hits are performed at the end of the semesters (or ends of special camp weeks in the summer and winter) on an impressive stage with a shared set, with shared costumes, and the kids get head microphones to wear so they can be heard by all of their fans in the audience. The studio provides training, but even more importantly it provides fun and confidence. My little one still doesn’t grasp the concept of being nervous; it’s all just play for her. And as long a she feels that way, I will enjoy every moment of this “stage mom” life.

Scene from CSS's Annie

Scene from CSS’s Annie

And if it becomes something more than play? She has far more opportunities than I ever had. The studio is run by true professionals, and she’s trained by and alongside Broadway and television veterans ready to take a kid to the next level when they (and their parents) are ready. CSS has over 500 students rotating through the school a year, in shows and classes for all elements of performance. Inara spent a week learning a mini version of the Broadway show Matilda over the summer (one of my favorite Broadway shows), this fall she played a tiny blond Miss Hannigan in Annie, and in the spring she will join one of the casts of Seussical The Musical. During this upcoming winter break the studio is offering 2 week-long camp sessions to do a Frozen-themed musical for all the little Elsa and Anna wannabes in Orange County. And for those mamas like me who may have a missed calling or two, they even occasionally offer adult classes. Every city has its own offerings for performance training, but we feel very lucky to live near The Center Stage Studio and will be involved as long  as we live in Southern California (and as long as my mini-me wants to be).

It’s a wonderful feeling to pass the proverbial torch on to our kids. And the answer to the question “Will she be better than me?” has already been answered: undoubtedly. And I couldn’t be more elated.

CSS Summer Camp cast of Matilda takes a bow

CSS Summer Camp cast of Matilda takes a bow






Center Stage Studio is located at 27101 Aliso Creek Road Suite #136, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656 Phone: (949) 305-9758

For General Info, Registration, Birthday Parties, email: csseventskristen@gmail.com

Live Nation Will Open The Music Factory in 2016

Last night at the House of Blues, Live Nation Entertainment, the world’s leading live entertainment company, announced that it will open an all-new, state-of-the-art concert venue in Irving, Texas.the-pavilion-at-the-music-factory-indoor-theaterThe Pavilion at The Music Factory lifestyle center, will open in Spring 2016 and will play host to world-class artists! The Pavilion will be the perfect anchor for Irving’s highly anticipated new entertainment and restaurant complex known as The Music Factory. It was Irving that decided it needed to have an entertainment-destination development such as The Music Factory. Live Nation looked throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth before landing in Irving as a regional destination. The 17-acre site sits adjacent to the Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas has proximity to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, State Highway 114, State Highway 183, Interstate 35E and Interstate 635. The proximity to roadways wasn’t the only appealing aspect, he added. The Pavilion at The Music Factory also will be located near rail stations on the newly completed DART Orange Line, include 4,200 dedicated parking spaces and 15 valet stands.Irving Music FactoryThe innovative new venue in Las Colinas will convert from a 4,000-seat indoor theatre to an 8,000-person capacity boutique open-air pavilion! Can’t wait until it opens – live music just got bigger and better in DFW! The convertible concert venue gives Live Nation the ability to bring in a wide variety of concerts ranging from A-list headliners to growing artists by using electronic doors that fold up horizontally before being lifted vertically at the back of the venue to open up in a panoramic view to the grassy lawn.
the-pavilion-at-the-music-factory-outdoor-open-air-pavilionThe live entertainment company plans to hold 60 to 70 concert events at The Pavilion at The Music Factory each year. The Pavilion gives Live Nation the ability to round out its venue portfolio in the region, which is the fourth largest metro area in the United States. The Pavilion at The Music Factory is scheduled to open on April 1, 2016. Live Nation plans to begin marketing shows at the concert venue in fall 2015.

Sawdust Art Festival’s Winter Fantasy

Author's daughter watches the glassblowing demonstration at the Sawdust Art Festival's Winter Fantasy

Watching the glassblowing demonstration at the Sawdust Art Festival’s Winter Fantasy

For those of us lucky enough to live in or be visiting Southern California this month, a can’t-miss event is the Sawdust Art Festival’s 24th Annual Winter Festival. As this is our first winter living in Laguna Beach, we were eager to attend the opening day festivities on Saturday. We spent the afternoon and evening walking the sawdust-covered paths through the hand-crafted village with new friends; the kids got their faces painted while the adults enjoyed wine, the weather was SoCal-perfect (Hats and gloves? Purely for fashion’s sake!), and we all filled our heads with visions of local art under our trees this year.

Playing with the pretend snow at Sawdust. Photo Credit: Mary Hurlbut

The festival grounds have been transformed into a winter wonderland, where 175 artists create, display and sell the most unique holiday gifts in all of Southern California, including jewelry, clothing, fused and blown glass, ceramics, woodwork, forged metals, painting, photography, sculpture, clothing and textiles. The experience is heightened with live holiday entertainment, fabulous outdoor cafes, art classes and demonstrations for young and old, a petting zoo, and of course Santa himself, ready to hear Christmas wishes and pose for photos taken by Laguna Beach photographer Mary Hurlbut. Special activities for families and kids include pottery wheel throwing in holiday-themed shapes at the Ceramic Center, and many art and craft projects at both the Children’s Art Spot and Studio One. The Towne Square at the entrance of the festival grounds offers plenty of photo opportunities, including Santa’s House and Sleigh and falling “snow!”

Jayne and her family visit Santa at Sawdust. Photo credit: Mary Hurlbut

My family visit Santa at Sawdust. Photo credit: Mary Hurlbut

Sawdust’s Winter Fantasy: Holiday Tradition will continue over the next four weekends, including the Friday after Thanksgiving, from 10 am to 6 pm each day: November 29, 30 & December 1, December 7, 8, December 14, 15, December 20, and 21, offering plenty of time to do your holiday shopping. Also, November 29th just happens to be Small Business Saturday; what better small businesses to support than your local artisans? Special community events include partnership with Toys for Tots every Sunday of the festival. Toys for Tots is a foundation with a mission of collecting toys to distribute as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community. Visitors can show their support by contributing new unwrapped toys for children, newborn to 17, every Sunday during the festival. Those that donate a new toy with a value of $5 or more will receive free one-day admission to the Winter Fantasy that Sunday.

Adult admission is $7; $6 for Seniors (65+); $4 for children (6-12); FREE for children (5 & under); and $10 for a Season Pass. The festival is located at the Sawdust Art Festival, 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. For additional information, please visit www.sawdustartfestival.org or call 949-494-3030.
Sawdust Art Festival Winter Fantasy 2014

The Buddy Holly Story

The Buddy Holly StoryI have never been a big fan of jukebox musicals. They can be fun but in general it’s lazy musical theater, meant for audiences afraid to try anything new. The shows take a collection of already published music from one particular person or band or genre, and either loosely connect them in an effort to form a story (Mamma Mia!, Movin’ Out, Rock of Ages) or use them in telling the story of the singer/band (Jersey Boys, The Boy from Oz). Critically, occasionally they work well and often they fall flat, but audiences (particularly those not familiar with or appreciative of the more original work on Broadway) tend to love them. Producers do to, because they come with an established fan base ready to splurge on tickets to see music they already know performed by people who remind them of the musicians they already love, and they get to say they saw a piece of theater. For those of us who prefer edgy, sexy, and original music (Cabaret and Pippin are two of my favorites), it’s frustrating to see more and more popping up on Broadway when there is plenty of original work to use, but at the same time I love any reason to get people in theaters. And one of the best parts of these types of shows, particularly the smaller casts of touring productions, is that you get an impressive group of extremely talented people playing multiple roles and multiple instruments. Big Bopper

The Buddy Holly Story is one of the original jukebox musicals, originally opening in 1989 and running on London’s West End for 12 years before a successful Broadway run and international tours. It was critically acclaimed and popular before the more formulaic eye-roll-inducing Mamma-Mia-inspired flops took over the Great White Way (Lennon, Good Vibrations, Ring of Fire, Hot Feet). The production I saw last night, currently playing at The Laguna Playhouse, is a cast of 14 dancers-singers-actors-musicians, many of whom have been playing these roles in multiple productions. For Todd Meredith, this marks his 15th time in the title role, in addition to performing all over the country in a Buddy Holly tribute band along with bassist (and trombonist) Bill Morey, who is in his 5th production of TBHS. Pinch-his-cheeks-adorable Emilio Ramos reprises his role of Ritchie Valens (almost stealing the show with his La Bamba, my favorite performance of the night), and a boisterous Mike Brennan plays the Big Bopper for the fifth time. This isn’t just a job for these guys, these are parts they were born to play and they are killing it up there. I am not ashamed to say that when it came to the end of the story, the night the proverbial music died, I got a little teary-eyed. And I KNEW how it would end! This little jukebox musical and its stars grabbed at my heartstrings.

The Buddy Holly Story

Why not go? If you hate Buddy Holly music (and who hates Buddy Holly music?!) you won’t like this, because that’s pretty much all it is. If you prefer shows with elaborate sets, precision choreography, deep plots or spectacle, this show is not for you.

Why go? Do you find yourself tapping your feet or singing along every time Peggy Sue, That’ll Be the Day, Chantilly Lace, or Johnny B. Goode comes on the radio? Are you AT ALL interested in the history of American music? Do you need a wholesome show to take your kids or in-laws to? Most importantly do you (like me) enjoy  watching really talented people doing what they do best and having a hell of a good time doing it? Then go. Go, sing along, get up and dance, and leave the theater with your cheesy cardboard black geek glasses remembering the short life of the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.

SIDE NOTEif you see it at The Laguna Playhouse, or ANYTHING at The Laguna Playhouse and you measure 5’4″ or below, don’t get balcony seats. I had to sit on the edge of my seat to see anything below the performers’ shoulders. Petite problems. 

The Buddy Holly Story is playing at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, California through August 10th. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com. For other productions around the country and the world, visit www.buddythemusical.com.




Sundays in the Park

Jayne and Inara in Bluebird Park, Laguna BeachFresh air, laughing children, food and wine, dancing neighbors and live music; there are few things that elicit a more favorable response than a classic summertime music concert in a park, especially when it’s free. A quick Google search shows how many options there are nation-wide for experiencing free musical concerts in public spaces, and we are all better for it. My family has enjoyed performances in Central Park in New York and Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, and now thanks to the Laguna Beach Arts Commission we have this opportunity again in our new home of Laguna Beach.

Fifty-two year old Bluebird Park is enclosed by fencing and surrounded by quiet neighborhood streets. The park includes a soft grass lawn, picnic tables and barbecues, drinking fountains, shade trees, sidewalks, curvy slides built into a hillside, scooter/tricycle paths with tunnels and bridges, big kid areas for climbing, spinning and playing basketball, little kid playing area with sand and baby swings, and clean and safe restrooms. As a parent, if you are anywhere in the middle area of the park you can see almost everywhere else. Dogs are not allowed so although they are missed, it makes it even more comfortable for parents to let all the munchkins run loose. Situated in Bluebird Canyon, only 4 blocks inland from Coast Highway (that’s PCH for most of California), it gets enough of an ocean breeze that it doesn’t get too hot, and it’s inland enough that the wind doesn’t get too cold. In short, add the music and all the fun residents of Laguna Beach with their food and wine, and you get a family paradise in 1.7 acres. Bluebird Park Laguna Beach

When my husband and I were dating, he brought me to this beautiful town by the sea every opportunity we got to get away. Usually we had to fly out Sunday afternoons and would miss the opportunity to experience the Sunday evening concerts in Bluebird Park, with the exception of one time. I remember how happy he was then and how romantic the evening was, with our packed picnic dinner we had prepared earlier that day and a few bottles of wine, laid out on our picnic blanket on the lawn. I’m sure I fell more in love with him then. The acoustics in the canyon were perfect for the music, played on a tiny hill on one end of the park with little amplification needed. We loved being there together but we both hoped to be back one day with my daughter so that we could attend the affair as a family. This past Sunday night, five years after we met, we finally had that opportunity as they kicked off their 31st season of music. Grateful Dead fan at Music in the Park, Laguna Beach

The genre is different every week, and this season started off with a Grateful Dead tribute band, Cubensis. We hadn’t paid attention to the schedule in advance, but we figured it out fairly quickly by the crowd. The people-watching was a blast and seeing my little Manhattan baby twirling around with adults in tie-dye handing out stickers and “Free Hugs” was priceless. With our picnic blanket nestled amongst early-afternoon campers on the front row with only the dance area between us and the band, my husband and I held each other and chatted with new neighbors, once again enjoying a picnic dinner we’d cooked together. But this time we also watched my daughter as she danced and played around the park, slid down the hillside and played tag with neighborhood kids. We followed her to the monkey bars holding hands, glasses of wine in the others, and in a perfect moment he admitted how happy he was to be back in Bluebird Park, this time as a family, for the occasion. It really is that special.

If you live in Orange County or will be visiting this summer, make time in your schedule for music in Bluebird Park Sunday evenings. The bands play from 5-7pm and you can claim your picnic spot no earlier than 3pm. The park is located at 798 Blue Bird Canyon Drive, Laguna Beach and parking is limited so walk and/or take public transportation if you can. Next week (July 20th) we look forward to Zydeco with Lisa Haley and the Zydecats (of course- we got married in New Orleans!), then Soul with Stone Soul (7/27), Beatles music with Beatroots (8/3), Irish with The Fenians (8/10), Reggae with Lesterfari & Kings Music (8/17), and finally Blues with Tom Nolan Band to close out the season on August 24th. Suffice it to say that if we are in town, we’ll be there. And in the Laguna spirit, we can always make room for one more.

Music in Bluebird Park Laguna Beach 2014 Schedule

Tony! Tony! Tony!

Tonys Rap Music Man

T.I., Hugh Jackman, and LL Cool J rap “Rock Island” from The Music Man at the 2014 Tony Awards

It is so beautifully fitting that my first post for Real Posh Mom be about the theater, specifically last night’s Tony Awards. As a little girl in Pennsylvania, the Tonys were my connection to a world that few around me understood, much less appreciated, yet that I was entranced by. I would watch transfixed, knowing that a place existed that was full of people for whom live theater and both raw and finely tuned talent were the purest expression of the strength of the human spirit, something which is very true in my heart.

Last night’s awards show was more difficult for me to watch than in year’s past. Last week my family relocated to California, making this the furthest I have lived from the Broadway community and the furthest away I’ve been while watching the broadcast. For ten years I lived in New York and had many brushes with many of the people on that stage last night, but it’s been years since I was seeing the hottest shows before they were featured, giving me favorites to root for. In Dallas I was just starting to find my people again with my involvement with the fabulous Dallas Theater Center, but after only one year on the board I had to resign due to this move. Being new to town now I’ve not yet had the opportunity to find a new theater family, and so with my jet-lagged munchkin asleep on my lap and my husband being a trooper trying to appreciate what I loved so much on the Radio City Music Hall stage, I watched a delayed-for-Pacific-Time show. Here I touch on some favorite highlights, as well as a few Posh Mom suggestions for what to see when you go to New York City this year both with and without the kiddos.

Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday

Hugh Jackman is a brilliant and beautiful showman and even my husband commented that it was unfair for a man to be that talented and successful and  attractive. But there is no doubt that Neil Patrick Harris was a perfect host for this event and was missed by many of us last night. Thankfully even as an audience member and nominee he seemed to get as much airtime as Hugh, so there’s not much for any of us to complain about. You’re both very pretty in your own ways, gentlemen.

Bryan Cranston as LBJ in “All The Way”

The awards were very spread out this year, with not one show sweeping. This is very good for Broadway and a sign that the right shows won in their respective categories. The biggest non-surprise winners included NPH, Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston for his role as LBJ in “All the Way,” and Audra’s MacDonald record-breaking sixth Tony for her performance as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” Kenny Leon’s direction of the recent “Raisin in the Sun” revival starring Denzel Washington (closing in 6 days) brought the show 3 Tonys, and the witty musical comedy “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” took home top honors in its category, with director Darko Tresnjak seamlessly working his native Serbo-Croatian and shout-outs to both his mom and husband into his acceptance speech.

The musical performances, which I watched again this morning with a more alert version of my almost 6-year old, were, as always, the best part of the evening. The show opened with an energetic number from “After Midnight” starring Fantasia, Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle. Winner Jessie Mueller as the lead in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” performed “I Feel the Earth Move” along with King herself. Frozen fans got their Idina Menzel fix when she performed a song from her new musical “If/Then,” there was a number from the new Rocky musical (which I found awkward and misplaced on a stage), a big spectacle number from Disney’s Aladdin featuring deserving winner James Monroe (who had one of the best speeches of the night), and in strange déjà vu moments there were performances from new revivals of old musicals Les Miserables and Cabaret, and an anniversary nod to Wicked. Strangely, there were also performances from shows still in development, featuring Sting and Jennifer Hudson in what I can only assume were very expensive sponsored spots.

Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig

I was happy overall, with my personal favorite moments including the LL Cool J/T.I./Hugh Jackman rap version of “Rock Island” from The Music Man, my lifelong celebrity crush since childhood Kenneth Branagh in a shiny tux introducing the authors of the nominated best plays to each introduce their clips, and performances from and accolades given to two of my all-time Broadway favorites, the risqué Hedwig and the Angry Inch (especially when Neil Patrick Harris in drag licked Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses and gave Sting a lap dance) and Cabaret. Both are obviously recommended for mature adults only, but I intend to make a NYC trip this summer just to catch them and will guarantee you will get your money’s worth if you do the same.

As for the family-friendly options currently on the Great White Way? There are plenty of options. I intend to take my first-grader to see last year’s winner Matilda the Musical, and/or Aladdin, The Lion King, Wicked, Newsies or Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (if I can stand Fran Drescher as the stepmother). Possibly even the positively magical Pippin, which snuggled into my second-best-show-ever slot after I caught it in December but has a more mature theme.

Aladdin Broadway

James Monroe Iglehart and the cast of “Aladdin”

As for the opening shot of Hugh Jackman bouncing around Radio City before breaking into “I love the Tony’s”? Many were left wondering. It was an homage to Bobby Van’s bopping routine from the 1953 musical, Small Town Girl. You’re welcome!

Jonah Wins Our Hearts and Entertains The Whole Family

JonahSightSoundI have heard a lot about Sight & Sound Theatres. My friend Scott Vann said, “Sight & Sound is on par with the theater experience in NYC.” Well then, I MUST check it out. My family recently took our first trip to Branson, Missouri, and our first stop was to Sight & Sound Theatre, which tells stories from the Bible with a high-tech, spectacular spin.

Sight & Sound Theatre gave my family tickets to see their show, “Jonah,” about the man who gets swallowed up by a giant, spectacular fish. There are some huge set pieces in “Jonah,” including an almost life-size ship, a gorgeous underwater world and the imperial fortress city of Nineveh. Film is also used creatively and seamlessly to bring certain aspects of the story to life. More importantly, the story (which is extended to fill two hours) is told well.

The biblical story is well known. Jonah gets a prophesy from God to go to Nineveh to declare the city’s wickedness and impending destruction, but there’s a problem. Jonah hates the Ninevites. So, Jonah attempts to flee “the presence of the Lord.” This stage production of “Jonah” adds depth to the character by giving him a backstory to why he struggles following God’s will.  He gets passage on the ship, which is amazingly life-like. Perhaps the most spectacular portion of the show is watching the storm that rages, and the ship being battered by it.JonahShip

Jonah, knowing the storm is God’s will, insists the sailors throw him off the ship. Instantly, the storm is calm. Jonah falls deeply into the water. Jonah’s time in the big fish is done beautifully. He survives his three days ordeal, this time resigned to do as God asks. But, God’s demands become even stronger. Jonah must help the people of Nineveh find redemption. Jonah keeps trying to avoid God. So, how can he help them seek redemption?

What I liked about “Jonah” is that Jonah is quite funny, but he’s not too heroic. He whines. He wonders why God is bugging him. He’s a bit demanding, too. Yet, we stick with him…even like him. The actor who plays Jonah is both funny and frustrating, but keeps you liking him throughout the show. I’m in awe of the powerful voice of the Queen of Nineveh, as she sung herself into my heart. The costume design is stunning and the show is brilliantly produced and directed. Did you know that it takes 25 stage technicians who run the show and 48 actors who star in it? “Jonah”  remarkably brings the story alive both as a spectacle and as a Biblical message. You won’t be disappointed with either.