All posts by Ashley Grant

8 Questions with Amanda Barker of Little Black Dress The Musical

Thanks to my membership in the Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with the Straz Center, I received two complimentary tickets in exchange for this preview post and social media love to "Little Black Dress The Musical". This has not impacted my post. All opinions below are my own.
Amanda Barker – photo by Dahlia Katz

When Straz Center reached out to me with the opportunity to interview Amanda Barker, I jumped at the chance! Amanda is not only a cast member in the upcoming Little Black Dress The Musical, she also is co-writer of the show!

I asked some of my pals and gals on Facebook what they would ask her  if given the chance, and I picked the best 8. Check out Amanda’s awesome answers to my questions below!

8 Questions with Amanda Barker of Little Black Dress

1. When you’re on stage or even just preparing to go on stage – Do you do your work for the love of the audience or for the love of the craft? Which is more important to you?

Oh gosh – why choose?! It’s the love of the craft that brings you to the stage, but I think it’s the audience that keeps you there. I have been lucky enough to also do film and TV, but I am like so many actors in that I started on stage and I get back on it whenever my schedule allows.

Don’t get me wrong – being on set can be glorious as it is all about the craft and you learn to create a relationship with a camera and not to expect an audience’s instant gratification. That said, what’s wonderful about Little Black Dress is that we have written in the audience’s participation! Allowing a direct address to audience is my favourite kind of theatre, but it’s extraordinarily rare, especially in a musical. That’s why creating this show and performing in it has been so exciting.

2. We know you enjoy making people laugh, but what makes you laugh?

My husband Marco makes me laugh every single day. He can be mostly asleep and still hilarious. The other day in bed he was drifting off and he said, “I love you.” When I told him that I loved him too, he answered, “I was talking to myself.” That’s a funny guy. Or a mean one. It’ll be 8 years next month and I still haven’t decided.

3. Let’s say you’re having an off day – it happens! What do you do to get stage ready and in a humorous place mentally?

This is where the audience comes in. I peek and look at them and try to see what their vibe is; their energy. I put myself in their shoes. What was their day like? What do they need? Performing is a service, and you need to connect to those you are serving to see what they need in each moment – especially with a show like this. You learn as a performer to do your best to take yourself out of the equation. It’s not about you. It’s about them. That can be very freeing if you’ve had a rotten day.

4. Do you ever go off script based on the audience you’re performing for?

For this show? Every. Damn. Day. We wrote the show for those types of personalized/improvised bits to land. We want it tailored for the crowd it is in front of. This show is special. It combines the cast’s talents for both improv and scripted performance. I do love a scripted show, and in my career, I get to do that plenty.

The words are the envelope that you can play within but you must stick to what is inside that envelope. THIS show is special though, and that’s what makes it so unique and exciting for an audience.

5. What’s the perfect Little Black Dress accessory?

One word – BLING! Any color, any variety. I have never met an accessory I didn’t love and I love that an LBD means I can wear my turquoise polka dotted shoes or bright red necklace and it all pairs seamlessly.

6. What drink pairs best with a Little Black Dress?

Little Black Dress wine of course! (Yes, they are a sponsor 😉 ) What’s great about an LBD is that you can keep stains to a minimum so you can go with a bright fruity cocktail, dark beer or red wine and no matter how messy you get, you are likely safe. If I drink it, I WILL spill it, and I love how my Little Black Dress doesn’t get ruined.

7. Would men enjoy watching Little Black Dress with their girlfriends/spouses? Or is it better for a girl’s night out?

Absolutely! It can be a great date night or a girls’ night out. It’s a story about friendship and how to deal with life’s milestones – from an awkward first kiss to keeping your marriage spicy, or the harsh reality of birthing a baby – those things are definitely universal.

One of the most important things to us was that it relates to all – and having Christopher Bond (Evil Dead the Musical) on the creative team (in addition to myself, Danielle Trzcinski and Natalie Tennebaum) means that there are plenty of jokes for guys too.

Above all else, I’m very proud that it is female material that doesn’t handle anything with kid gloves – women can be messy, dirty, complicated and hilarious. That is what was important to me.

8. Finally, what are your plans post Little Black Dress? Any other parodies or musicals brewing behind the scenes?

I actually have co-authored another show about women and clothes called Clotheswap where the audience gets to bring their bags of old duds to the theatre and those pieces are used on stage in both narrative and improvisation (and they get to participate in the clothesswap after)! That script has received two awards and will be happening in Toronto later this year.

I am very interested in the stories of women and clothes, clearly! Beyond that, I am in the next season of The Handmaid’s Tale which comes out next month, and my online series A Gay Victorian Affair will be releasing its next three episodes in May. That one falls under parody as it is a dirty version of Downton Abbey.

I am also on-air most mornings with Sirius XM’s Canada Laughs channel (I am both Canadian and American) so that fun will continue and I have two projects for TV in pre-production. I love what I do and the only thing that limits me are the hours in a day!

Little Black Dress The Musical – What You Need to Know

Little Black Dress The Musical is playing at The Straz Center now through April 27 and April 28, 2018. To see all the shows playing at the Straz, click HERE! I’m going to the show on Saturday. Buy some tickets, and come join me. It’s going to be a great night out!!!

Here’s the trailer for the show:

 

 

Also… I’ve got some other deets you may want to know:

From the ladies behind Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody, this hilarious ladies-night-out musical follows BFFs Dee and Mandy as they don their LBDs to chronicle life’s major events – birth, death, dating, sex, love, friendship … and male strippers. With improv, audience participation, fun music and a triple warning – strong language, fog and haze, and one very sexy man – Little Black Dress is a perfect fit for any woman.

And finally, because I love fun photos, here’s the press pics that show you we HAVE to go see this musical ASAP! 

Little Black Dress The Musical Cast Ensemble Photo 1 – Photo by Dahlia Katz
Little Black Dress The Musical Cast Ensemble Photo 2 – Photo by Dahlia Katz
Little Black Dress The Musical Cast Ensemble Photo 3 – Photo by Dahlia Katz

 

 

Brews with Attitude – April 3, 2018 in Tampa

 

Thanks to my membership in the Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with the Pepin Distributing, I received two complimentary tickets to Brews with Attitude in exchange for this preview post and social media love. All opinions are my own.

I jumped at the chance to attend Brews with Attitude for three simple reasons:

  1. My date loves her some beer, and her birthday is coming and this is a perfect event for celebrating both.
  2. It’s at one of my FAVE venues in Tampa Bay – TPepin’s Hospitality Centre
  3. Who doesn’t love a fun night out where you get to try multiple brands in one spot, for one cost?

What is Brews with Attitude?

The Reader’s Digest version? It’s a beer fest that will offer

  • Over 200 Beers and Ciders to sample from
  • Tampa’s favorite Food Trucks
  • Live Entertainment by Dave Valliere Group
  • One-off craft beer releases
  • Variety of hand rolled cigars
  • and more…

This year’s is the eight annual event, and they promise to be bigger and better than ever before.

Here’s a video from last year’s event to give you an idea of what to expect:

When is the Event?

Tuesday, April 3rd from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where is the Event?

TPepin’s Hospitality Centre located at:

4121 N. 50th Street,
Tampa, Florida 33610

What About Tickets?

According to their website, tickets are $40, and you can snag them right here!

If they still have any available on the day of the event, tickets can also be purchased for cash or credit at the door.

Join me at this fun-filled, beer enthusiasts paradise!!!

Admission Includes: Sampling of over 200 beers with the official Brews With Attitude tasting cup.

There will also be food, non-alcoholic beverages and cigars available for purchase.

The venue asks that you please bring your printed out ticket as there will not be a list for admission!!

Who’s Gonna Be There?

The cool kids (duh!), and these breweries:

10 Bbl
3 Daughters
Ace Cider
Angry Chair
Barrel of Monks
Big Strom
Big Top
Blue Point
Bold City
Boulevard
Coppertail
Due South
Duvel
Elysian
Escape
Florida Ave
Founders
Funky Buddha
Golden Road
Goose Island
Green Bench
Hidden Springs
Highland
Innis & Gunn
Islamorada
Karbach
Kona
Mad Beach
Magic Hat
Motorworks
Narragansett
Ommegang
Ommission
Pair O Dice
Proof
Rapp
Redbridge
Rekorderlig
Sea Dog
Shipyard
Silver King
Six Ten
Sonoma Cider
Southern Tier
Spiked Seltzer
St. Somewhere
Stiegl
Swamp Head
Sweetwater
Tampa Bay Brewing
Uinta
Victory
Wine Stream
Woodchuck
Wynwood

Book Recommendation – The Suitcase Entrepreneur by Natalie Sisson

Need a FABULOUS book to read? I highly recommend The Suitcase Entrepreneur by Natalie Sisson. Y’all, I’m not just blowing smoke when I say this, but this book FUNDAMENTALLY changed the course of my career when I first picked up the 2014 edition of the book on March 12, 2014.

I knew I was happy working for myself, but this book made me commit full force to not working a 9 to 5 ever again. Sure, I had a stint where I had to take a full time gig temporarily, but this book showed me that I could have a business that I run anywhere with WiFi.

Anti 9 to 5 , all about the WiFi

Although anywhere with WiFi for me usually means I’m at home in yoga pants and a t-shirt, the point is that this book gave me a glimpse into what is possible. The year I bought this book I not only quit that 9 to 5 stint for good, but I went to Thailand & got more clients than I’d ever had before as a freelance writer.

Have there been ups and downs along the way? Yes, of course. However, I’d choose to be my version of a suitcase entrepreneur over a rat in a race any day! I love knowing that I have a business that I can run from nearly anywhere in the world. .

I’m not where I want to be in my career (YET!), but without the tools and information in this amazing book, it would have taken me sooooooooo much longer. I’m so incredibly grateful I stumbled upon this book 4 years ago. I can’t say enough about how good it is.

Thinking about a business? You NEED this book!

If you are thinking about starting a freedom based business, you simply HAVE to get a copy of it. Natalie has updated it, and there’s a bunch more fabulous information just waiting for you to unlock. Grab a copy HERE.

I am definitely a freedomist for life, and I have a feeling after you read this book – you will be too. Do you want to “create freedom in business and adventure in life?” Then, you MUST snap up a copy of this killer book today.


And, check out Natalie’s website. She has some of the best podcast episodes that will teach you even more. Never stop learning my friends!

Do you have a book you want me to read, a drink you want me to try or a product you want me to review? 

Contact me HERE! I’m PR friendly 😉

This post contains links to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

A Beautiful Musical – er I Mean a Review of Beautiful the Musical

 

Thanks to my membership in the Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with the Straz Center, I received two complimentary tickets for the purposes of review to "Beautiful - The Carole King Musical". This has not impacted my review and all opinions below are my own.
Carnegie Hall. Sarah Bockel (“Carole King”)
Carnegie Hall. Sarah Bockel (“Carole King”)

I was thrilled when the opportunity to watch Beautiful: The Carole King Musical was offered to me. Although I admit, I wasn’t completely familiar with the Carole King story, I recognized many of the songs that were listed in the production’s descriptions. I had also heard so many wonderful things about the show, and I’m a sucker for good music and acting performed live on a stage. Something about knowing  that they can’t yell “CUT!” and/or “take it from the top,” just gives me an excitement like no other form of entertainment ever has. Can you relate?

Knowing that my mom would want to hear those songs of yesteryear once more, performed live, I invited her to be my date, and I’m so glad I did. One of my favorite moments in the middle of the show was when she lit up at the song Loco Motion. She leaned over and told me that her and a friend had choreographed a dance to that song while they were growing up. It was so fun watching her re-live happy times from childhood. Want to know how I felt about the show overall? Keep reading…

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical – What Straz Said About it (spoilers ahead)

Long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend, she was Carol Klein, Brooklyn girl with passion and chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. But it wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her true voice.

BEAUTIFUL – The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation.

Featuring a stunning array of beloved songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and the title song, BEAUTIFUL has a book by Tony Award® nominee and Academy Award®-nominated writer Douglas McGrath, direction by Marc Bruni, choreography by Josh Prince and took home two 2014 Tony Awards® and the 2015 Grammy® for Best Musical Theater Album. BEAUTIFUL is currently playing to sold out crowds at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on Broadway.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical – My Review

When the show opened, I was met with a vibrant red head sitting at a piano confessing she never planned to be a singer. Then, the audience is brought back in time to how she ended up at that piano singing for a crowd. We learn about her desire to be a songwriter, and the way she met her first husband and long time writing partner Gerry Goffin. This marriage and the songs they would go on to create are the ultimate focus of the production.

Fast forward a little bit and Carole and Gerry have a baby, are married, are finally working as full time song writers, but you can see throughout all of it that Gerry has itchy feet. I was getting angry as this was all taking place because I knew what was coming. There was trouble in paradise, and I just wanted to focus on the happiness that was the music.

I also got antsy as I watched the characters of Barry Man and Cynthia Weil in their competitive nature with Gerry and Carole. Two teams of songwriters and musicians constantly trying to out-do each other on the Billboard music charts. I can’t even imagine how stressful that would be. But the couples were friends nonetheless, and I loved them and was rooting for everyone to succeed.

As I watched though, I couldn’t help but reflect on how good songwriters have to be going through all the feels so that they can put amazing lyrics and music on the page, and ultimately on the record.  I confess, it was even exciting to watch the super high-highs, and the troubling lows of excited love, wild success, depressing defeats, and so on…

Four Friends - Beautiful the Carole King Musical
Four Friends. (l to r) James Clow (“Don Kirshner”), Andrew Brewer (“Gerry Goffin”), Sarah Bockel (“Carole King”), Jacob Heimer (“Barry Mann”) and Sarah Goeke (“Cynthia Weil”).

By intermission I knew that Carol and Gerry would be divorcing, but I still didn’t like that this was confirmed by all the spoiler laden conversations going on in the line for the ladies restroom. Am I the only one who didn’t know the end of this show? Haha! It seemed like everyone that was there had either watched it before or at least knew the story. (side note: to me a testament to how good a musical is, is how many repeat watchers are in attendance. I encountered people who were seeing it for the second, third, and fourth time.)

I was amused in that same restroom line when a lady that was older than me, asked if someone as young as I am could possibly even be enjoying the show so far. I replied, absolutely! And, we shared a chuckle when I said I was diggin’ it, and that the songs were neato, and really swell.

Ensemble from Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Ensemble from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

One of my favorite things about the musical over all, was watching how these songs that began as “simple” words and notes on a page seemed to magically transform into hits thanks to the musical acts that performed them. How exciting it must have been for these writers to witness their work coming to life in that way for all to enjoy and be entertained by.

I also particularly loved the costumes, and how they along with the sets and props made you really feel like you were stepping back in time to the era in which all of those amazing songs were created.

My favorite part is that after all of the crap with Gerry,  we’re presented at the end with Carole King coming out on top. She is the amazing powerhouse that drives this entire show. She pulls you in, giving you a raw look into the good, the bad and the ugly of the music industry.

Grant it, we didn’t see the knock-down, drag-out ugly one might expect if this had been about the music business today. But, that’s what makes the show that much nicer to watch. Even though there’s heartache in the production, it truly made me yearn for a feeling of what may have been a simpler time.

Bottom line – I say go watch this show!

I would  recommend this musical to anyone who loves those songs from yesteryear. I would also recommend it to enthusiasts of the entertainment industry. I would recommend it to people who crave a simpler time. To put it simply, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to witness an overall feel good story come to life on stage. All in, this production was in fact, a beautiful musical. 

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is playing at The Straz Center now through April 1, 2018. To see all the shows playing at the Straz, click HERE!

And, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical contains some adult language, and mature situations.

 

How NOT to Get Business – Threaten Your Clients With the Law

Smiles4Keeps dentistry is facing all the backlash over a letter they sent to clients threatening to turn them in for neglect to children’s protective services if they didn’t schedule a dental appointment for their kids.

This certainly speaks to the fact that NO industry should ever threaten it’s customers in hopes of getting more business. Original image posted by an understandably angry parent here:

What the letter says… as typed by a parent trying to keep this going and spread the word about this crazy letter:

“At Smiles 4 Keeps, our goal is to keep children as healthy as possible, through education, regular dental checkups, and timely treatment as needed. In order for us to do that, you must bring your child to one of our Smile Centers for regular professional cleanings and treatment.

According to law, failure to bring your child for dental care is considered neglect. Pennsylvania Act 31 (Child Abuse Reporting and Recognition Requirements) states that health care providers must report your failure to bring your child to the dentist for evaluation and care. A copy of Act 31 is enclosed for your reference. Smiles 4 Keeps has not reported your child’s outstanding dental treatment, as of yet. Since this law is in effect, we hope this letter encourages you to schedule an appointment to follow through with needed dental treatment for your child. If you sought a second opinion, please also contact us with the name of your new provider. We would be happy to forward your your child’s records upon signing a release form.

To keep your child as healthy as possible and avoid a report to state authorities, please call Smiles 4 Keeps immediately to schedule a treatment appointment within the next 30 days. With your help, Smiles 4 Keeps can continue to provide your child with quality dental care. Sincerely, Smiles 4 Keeps Pediatric Dentistry.”

The company addressed this now viral image here:

But the damage has been done. Errbody mad at this dentist office. WOWZA! Here’s the full text of the company’s response in case they delete this too (They’ve deleted ALL reviews, and many comments):

Smiles4Keeps
March 21 at 4:36pm ·
On March 19, a Facebook post inspired a series of comments from others in the Facebook community. We appreciate feedback from our patients and potential patients. However, the online conversation failed to remain focused on facts. Smiles4Keeps wishes to clarify the following points:

• The letter in question refers to dentists’ legal obligation to report dental neglect to the proper authorities. In its Guideline on Oral and Dental Aspects of Child Abuse and Neglect, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry defines the term and clarifies its importance. The full document is available for review here: http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/G_Childabuse.pdf Here is an excerpt:
Dental neglect, as defined by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, is the “willful failure of parent or guardian to seek and follow through with treatment necessary to ensure a level of oral health essential for adequate function and freedom from pain and infection.” Dental caries, periodontal diseases, and other oral conditions, if left untreated, can lead to pain, infection, and loss of function. These undesirable outcomes can adversely affect learning, communication, nutrition, and other activities necessary for normal growth and development.
• Letters that refer to dentists’ mandate to report failure to seek necessary treatment are sent under specific conditions. Letters are intended to remind parents and caregivers of the need for dental treatment for the child in question, and the letters are not sent unless attempts at multiple communications with the parents or guardians are unsuccessful or messages from our office remain unanswered. Letters are not sent after one missed treatment appointment.
• Every effort is made to schedule around each patient’s family or caregiver’s needs. We schedule siblings whenever possible for the convenience of the family. If a family misses multiple appointments, we reserve the right to schedule siblings separately to ensure that we care for as many children as possible.
• If a parent or guardian chooses to take a child who requires treatment to another provider, we ask for the name of the new treating dentist so we can record the information in the patient’s record. We remain responsible for the patient until the parent relays the name of the new dentist. We welcome the opportunity to support other medical and dental providers with the hope that all children receive the appropriate care they require in a timely manner.
• Upon request and written permission of the child’s parent or guardian, we transfer records to the new treating dentist.
• We love healthy smiles, and we are proud to help ensure that the children in our care receive the highest level of clinical excellence. Part of our job is caring for children who suffer from tooth decay and other oral health issues. When left untreated, these issues are likely to progressively worsen and affect the child’s overall health. Sometimes, when dental conditions are left untreated, the results can be fatal. Here is one unfortunate case in which a young man died because his tooth abscess remained untreated, and bacteria from the abscess spread to his brain: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/marian-wright-edelman/deamonte-drivers-dental-care_b_831705.html
• Tooth decay involves bacteria which has been fatal to some children (see news stories referenced above). Dental neglect may involve allowing bacterial infection to remain untreated, just as any untreated infection. First teeth determine the health of adult teeth. If decayed teeth remain untreated, new teeth will begin to decay more rapidly.
• In all 50 states, physicians and dentists are mandated reporters. This means that they are required to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect to social service or law enforcement agencies in order to prevent such tragedy. This is not unique to us. These laws are in place to protect children.
• Some Facebook reviews and posts were removed when many of them were in violation of Facebook’s user guidelines. Facebook’s policy can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards. Other Facebook posts were removed because they constituted harassment or included hate speech, abusive language, profanity, and false accusations. We respect other people, and we ask that we are treated with respect as well.
• We are committed to providing healthcare to every child who is presented to us, regardless of the financial status of the child’s parent or caregiver. We proudly accept Medicaid, as well as other insurances, and we offer reasonable payment schedules for those who are financially challenged.

Photo from The Bodyguard Musical Facebook Page

The Bodyguard Musical – A Review

 

Thanks to my membership in the Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with the Straz Center I received two complimentary tickets for the purposes of review to The Bodyguard. This has not impacted my review and all opinions below are my own.
Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Company in The Bodyguard

Let me start by saying – I had no idea there even WAS a musical called The Bodyguard until it came here to Tampa Bay. I don’t have cable, and have intentionally not been watching the news, so I’ve been quite out of the loop in terms of many things related to entertainment. However, I had never seen the movie, but I LOVE musicals, so I jumped at the chance to see the production.

Funnily enough, my husband insisted I watch the movie before the play. So, I watched it last night. I’m actually kind of glad I did because it prepared me for some of the things that would have otherwise shocked me.

You see, after a family tragedy that happened December 2016, I’m hyper-sensitive these days to gun violence. Therefore, knowing what to expect going in, helped me to focus on the joyful elements of the show. My husband is a brilliant man, and knew this all to well about me, so I’m extra grateful he had me watch the movie first.

And, if I’m honest, I really loved the movie. It made me that much more excited to see the musical too. Might seem weird since it gave away much of the plot, but it’s true! (p.s. some of the plot IS different in the stage production vs. the movie)

The Bodyguard – What Straz Said About it (spoilers ahead)

Based on the smash hit film, the award-winning musical will star Grammy® Award nominee and R&B superstar Deborah Cox!

Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love.

A breathtakingly romantic thriller, THE BODYGUARD features a host of irresistible classics including “Queen of the Night,” “So Emotional,” “One Moment in Time,” “Saving All My Love,” “Run to You,” “I Have Nothing,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and one of the biggest selling songs of all time – “I Will Always Love You.”

 

The Bodyguard – My Review

I have to say that out of all the musicals I’ve been to, this one was CRAZY good. In fact, dare I say it might have been one of the best ones I’ve EVER seen. Then again, it felt more like I was seeing a concert than attending a musical in the “traditional” sense- whatever that means.

Let’s put it this way – I’ve always wanted to attend a Whitney Houston concert, and after watching this production tonight – I now feel like I have. You know, only with added drama and story to it. Haha!

From the opening act to the closing number I was either on edge of my seat, tapping my toes, or I was up on my feet. I also totally sang along to my favorite songs – as did much of the audience .. which I loved by the way. Made for a fun and interactive experience.

Photo from The Bodyguard via Straz Center
Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Jasmin Richardson as Nicki Marron in The Bodyguard

And, I have to say this about Miss Deborah Cox  – she was absolutely spectacular in this role! The way that she could command the stage, and belt out those vocals was like nothing I’ve ever seen in a live act before. I actually closed my eyes for a moment,  and almost believed I was sitting in a Whitney Houston concert!

The notes that Whitney could hit are clearly not easy to hit, but Mrs. Cox did it with such grace and ease that you can tell she knows her craft, and she owns her craft. Watching her sing and perform took my breath away, and gave me all the goosebumps multiple times.

Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Judson Mills as Frank Farmer in The Bodyguard via Straz
Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Judson Mills as Frank Farmer in The Bodyguard

To put it mildly – I would absolutely recommend to anybody who is considering seeing this musical that they buy a ticket right now.

From the costumes to actors, the songs to the choreography, even the lines the actors were supposed to say – every single bit of this musical was top-notch. It was just ahhhhhhhmazing. If given the chance, I would see it again over and over and over again!

The Bodyguard is playing at The Straz Center now through March 25, 2018.  Regularly priced tickets are $40-$123. To see all the shows playing at the Straz, click HERE!

Heads up if you’re going: Deborah Cox is not scheduled to perform at the Sunday Evening performance. And, The Bodyguard contains some adult language, mature situations and brief simulated gun shots and violence.

For just a glimpse into WHY this show was so amazing, check out this interview Mrs. Cox did with Wendy Williams where she expresses just how much she wanted it to be done right:

Also… just in case you are as curious as I was…

Here’s the cast of The Bodyguard US Tour from the official website:

  • Deborah Cox – Rachel Marron
  • Judson Mills – Frank Farmer
  • Alex Corrado – Tony Scibelli
  • Charles Gray – Bill Devaney
  • Jonathan Hadley – Sy Spector
  • Kevelin B. Jones III – Fletcher
  • Sebastian Maynard-Palmer – Fletcher
  • Jorge Paniagua – The Stalker
  • Jasmin Richardson – Nicki Marron
  • Mark McCullough – Thomas Ray Court
  • Elyssa Jo Brown – Swing
  • Henry Byalikov – Ensemble
  • Willie Dee – Swing
  • Megan Elyse Fulmer – Ensemble
  • Devinn Harris – Ensemble
  • Alex Jackson – Swing
  • Megan Melville – Ensemble
  • DeQuina Moore – Ensemble
  • Kevin Mylrea – Ensemble
  • Stefan Raulston – Ensemble
  • Matthew Schmidt – Ensemble
  • Amber Snow – Ensemble
  • Lauren Tanner  – Swing
  • Naomi C. Walley  – Ensemble

More Than 25 Easter and Spring Posts!

I just love the feelings that come with Spring, don’t you? Even though in Florida we don’t really have a season change per se, everything feels renewed and fresh. It’s one of my favorite times of year.

And, it features a fun holiday – EASTER! I have such wonderful memories of Easter growing up. It was one of the times I remember everyone, even my dad, being in a good mood and the day being filled with excitement and good food. Perhaps that’s why I get so giddy when Spring arrives.

I also love, love, LOVE all the creative crafts, pastel colors, and like I said – good food. I thought I’d feature some of my favorite Easter and Spring posts written by my bloggy friends in this round-up. Of course, there are a few of my own sprinkled in as well. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Easter and Spring Post Roundup

1. Easter Bunny Mason Jars
2. Bird Nest Cupcakes Dessert
3. Easter Muddy Buddies
4. Last Minute Easter Entertaining & Tablescape Ideas

5. Easy DIY Marbled Easter Eggs with Nail Polish
6. DIY Fun and Festive Easter Favor Jars The Kids Will Love!
7. Easter table set with favorites of purple and yellow
8. Mason Jar Spring Vases
9. Easy DIY Easter Floral Arrangement
10. Chocolate Covered Strawberry “Carrots”

11. Easy Easter Dessert: Chocolate Covered Easter Pretzels
12. Glow In The Dark Easter Eggs
13. Grape Soda Cupcakes
14. Nature Inspired Napkin Rings For A Spring Table
15. Things Pinterest Taught Me: Things to Do With Peeps
16. Rice Krispies Bird’s Nest Treats
17. Strawberry Spring Salad With Goat Cheese
18. Curtis Stone’s Glazed Ham with Mustard Barbecue Sauce Recipe

19. Things Pinterest Taught Me: Things to Do With Cadbury Eggs
20. Easy Easter Entertaining: Crostini Brunch + Coconut Flour Donuts
21. Leftover Easter Candy? Make Martha Stewart’s Shortbread Candy Bars
22. Bunny Cinnamon Rolls
23. The Gilded Egg Project
24. Slow Cooker Ham With Root Beer Demi Glace


25. Easy Spring Jelly Bean + Birds Nest Centerpiece
26. A Spring Inspired Tablescape
27. Tablesetting Must Haves For Your Spring Gathering
28. Easter and Spring Books for Kids 2018

6 a.m. Word Vomit 3/6/2018

This morning I was woken up by a bad dream about my dad. I can honestly say I hate the moments that I dream about him because they’re usually very sad. And this particular dream I had this insane vision that he had faked his death for the purposes of running away to another country and marrying another woman.

The crazy thing is, in part of this dream I was riding in a car with one of my grandmothers and she was trying to console me, and I just remember feeling so betrayed. The reality is I do feel betrayed, and regardless of how it played out in the dream, the truth is he did leave us but he didn’t fake his death.

He really is dead. And, I find myself so mad this morning, and yet I know that I can’t continue to blame him for my current situation or anyone else’s.

No matter what he did, or anything he’s ever said or has ever done in the past, the harsh truth is my mom, my sister, and I have all made our own choices.

No matter what I say, think, or do, I really can’t blame my dad anymore for anything that has happened or anything that is to come to be.

Did he influence a lot of things growing up? Yes! But at that same time I always had a choice, and I guess I’m realizing now that I still have so many choices.
One of those choices is whether or not to keep letting my dad destroy me. I must say I am hell-bent on making sure that this does not happen.
I refuse to spend the rest of my life simply waiting to die. As much as I am afraid to do so many things that I want to do, what scares me more is coming to the end of my life only to look back and realize I wasted it.
I’m starting to believe that my life purpose might simply be to show others the power of infusing as much joy as possible into your life. Perhaps that’s what I’m really supposed to be doing – showing people that even though there are a lot of things about life that are really hard, infusing life with joy makes those hard things just a little bit easier.
Yes, I know that one of the things I want to do is teach. I want to help people make their businesses better with blogging. I want to help people learn the things that I learn as I learn them.
I want to learn and then teach things like life hacks, making things easier, how to save more money, how to make more money, how to organize and make habits that help the day-to-day to flow easier and better.
But this morning what was heavy on my heart, the heaviest in fact, it’s just trying to inspire people with everything that is in me to bring as much joy to every moment of their lives as humanly possible.

Word Vomit March 1, 2018

My Line in the F#$%ing Sand – I’m Turning My Finances Around Dammit

Okay, I’ve gone from financially perturbed to financially pissed off.  I’m starting Denise Duffield Thomas’s Money Bootcamp all over again TODAY. I must get my financial $#it together STAT. My apartment complex just served me notice that our rent is going up AGAIN.

When we moved in we were paying $650….11 years later it’s ballooned up to $953 now. I’m so pissed off….and because our credit rating is crappy and we have no down payment money we can’t even look for a new apartment or get a house.

Today, I’m declaring – This is my line in the sand. Somehow. Some way. By March 1, 2019 I’ll have ZERO unleveraged debt AND be house shopping dammit.

Enough is enough. They say that when you’re on a quest for freedom and self-discovery that eventually you come to this point. Where you get so pissed at what has transpired you draw your line in the sand….and receiving this letter from my apartment complex has driven me from eh, I can still manage, to – oh hellllllllllllllllll no. That’s it. I’m done.

And p.s. I’m thinking I’m going to start doing a daily word vomit. I rather like the idea of declaring my wants, desires and my thoughts publicly. This may blow up in my face, but nothing else I’ve done has worked so far, so screw it. Let’s do it! Imma tell my truths!

Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival Concert Lineup 2018

Have you heard? Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival is coming back to Tampa Bay Saturdays and Sundays, March 3 through April 29 and is included with any Annual Pass, Fun Card or daily admission to the park.

And, if the free with admission news isn’t enough to get you excited about attending,  each evening of the festival features a concert from some of the hottest names in the music industry.

Busch Gardens 2018 Food & Wine Festival Concert Lineup

Concert Headliners Include The Fray, Flo Rida, Cole Swindell, Boyz II Men, Olga Tañón, TLC, Hank Williams Jr., Kaleo and More!

More info about the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival:

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay‘s most delicious event returns this March with tastes for every palate at the fourth annual Food & Wine Festival.

Guests can sample delectable cuisines paired with a selection of 65+ wines, 50+ craft brews and specialty cocktails, while enjoying some of the biggest names in entertainment.

The Food & Wine Festival runs Saturdays and Sundays, March 3 through April 29 and is included with any Annual Pass, Fun Card or daily admission to the park.

The Festival features all-new twists on cuisine at 13 culinary cabins, along with favorites like mango shrimp ceviche and beef brisket on a spiced corn waffle.

Experience bold new eats at the Savory Tavern with fried frog legs with bacon corn fritters, or indulge in flavorful treats at Artisan Eats with beloved dish duck fat truffle fries and then spice it up with tostones rellenos de pollo at Comfort Kitchen.

Opt for lobster tart with leeks and Swiss cheese or mushroom vol-au-vent at the Light Fare Canteen, or relish in the robust flavors at Chef’s Plantation with salmon cake with lemon aioli, Korean-style ribs and all-new short rib and brie grilled cheese.

Guests can elevate the Food and Wine Festival experience even more by sipping a carefully curated selection of fine bourbons and new tequila tastings.

Concert headliners include:

Saturday, March 3: Edwin McCain & Sister Hazel
Sunday, March 4: Grupo Niche
Saturday, March 10: The Fray
Sunday, March 11: Southern Uprising Tour: A Southern Rock Revival with Travis Tritt, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Outlaws
Saturday, March 17: Olga Tañón
Sunday, March 18: Goo Goo Dolls
Saturday, March 24: Better Than Ezra & Tonic
Sunday, March 25: Michael Bolton
Saturday, March 31: Boyz II Men
Sunday, April 1: Natalie Grant
Saturday, April 7: Hank Williams, Jr.
Sunday, April 8: TLC
Saturday, April 14: Bret Michaels
Sunday, April 15: Coming Soon!
Saturday, April 21: The All-American Rejects
Sunday, April 22: Cole Swindell
Saturday, April 28: Flo Rida
Sunday, April 29: Kaleo & Bleachers

Guests can choose from two exclusive VIP concert upgrades at the Festival which include priority seating and a 5-item sampler lanyard for even more access to great times and great tastes.

Additionally, guests can purchase of 5, 10 and 12-item sampler lanyards to tailor the experience to any taste bud. Food and beverage is not included with park admission and is available for an additional fee. Guests must be 21 years of age or older to consumer alcoholic beverages.

BEST VALUES FOR FLORIDA RESIDENTS:

  • For a limited time, buy a Busch Gardens Fun Card and get an Adventure Island Fun Card FREE! Experience both parks through 2018 for the price of one.

 

  • For those wishing for more VIP offerings, the Annual Pass includes unlimited admission for 12 months, free parking, no blockout dates, in-park discounts and other benefits, valued at more than $350. With EZpay, Annual Passes start at just $14 per month for one park, and $16 per month for both Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island.

Be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by joining the conversation using #corksandcoasters on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.