Category Archives: Blog

Sugar Butter and Flour Makes for a Sweet Musical in Waitress

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 "Waitress The Musical". This has not impacted my review and all opinions below are my own.
Desi Oakley and Bryan Fenkart in the National Tour of WAITRESS – Photo Credit Joan Marcus
Desi Oakley (Jenna) and Bryan Fenkart (Dr. Pomatter) in the National Tour of Waitress. Photo credit – Joan Marcus

A couple of nights ago I watched a show about

  • passion
  • dreams
  • love
  • sex
  • betrayal
  • pursuing happiness
  • sadness
  • heartbreak
  • defeat
  • excitement, and
  • desire.

In other words, I feel like I watched a show about life. Oh yeah, and there were pies. Of course, by now you probably know I’m talking about Waitress the Musical. What gave it away? The post title or the pies comment? (I crack myself up) 

This production gave me a roller coaster of emotions. I laughed. I cried. I got mad. I got excited. I had a whole host of emotions y’all –  basically I experienced most if not all of the emotions one has in life.

Want to know more about my feelings towards the show overall? Keep reading…

Desi Oakley in Waitress
Desi Oakley as Jenna in the National Tour of Waitress. Photo credit – Joan Marcus

Waitress The MusicalWhat Straz Said About it (spoilers ahead)

Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by five-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland). “It’s an empowering musical of the highest order!” raves the Chicago Tribune.

Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, WAITRESS tells the story of Jenna – a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.

“WAITRESS is a little slice of heaven!” says Entertainment Weekly and “a monumental contribution to Broadway!” according to Marie Claire. Don’t miss this uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood and the magic of a well-made pie.

Waitress The Musical – My Review (again spoilers ahead! Sorry not sorry)

When the show opened, I didn’t fully know what to expect. The only thing I did know is that I was in for a romantic comedy based on a book that turned into a movie, that then turned into a musical, with great music and a happy ending.

At least, that’s was what I heard. And, Waitress totally served up all of that and more.

Though the plot wasn’t exactly surprising, and the outcome wasn’t shocking either, it was it’s simplicity that made it so easy to follow. But, what made it exceptionally sweet was the characters, the dialogue and that music!!!

By intermission I knew that I had to have the soundtrack. Oh, and that I couldn’t wait to find out the conclusion of the show. Hurry up and get to the happy ending already!!!

From left: Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in the National Tour of Waitress. Credit Joan Marcus
From left: Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in the National Tour of Waitress. Photo credit – Joan Marcus

One of my favorite things about the musical over all, was that I got to enjoy it with my mother by my side. She and I have been through a lot over the years, and many of the elements of the plot hit a little too close to home for us.

Watching everything work out in the end was very inspirational for us. I think that’s what makes this production such a feel-good show. It’s a depiction of a life completely turned upside down, with twists and turns, that ends up being okay.

There were several songs in the show I just loved, but one particular song that got me thinking was I Didn’t Plan It. Becky sings it to Jenna, and the following lines in it really struck me:

“I needed saving
And a good mistake needed making
Maybe you need the same thing

Something to feel
To race through your blood
And remind you you’re here
To open your eyes and look around
And see the sky when you’re underground

I didn’t plan it
But that’s life
And I’m finally feeling alive”

I’ve been pondering those lyrics today, and I feel it speaks to why people do things they know they might later regret. Whether it’s risking a business move, getting up the courage to ask for a divorce, quitting a job, or having an affair- we all just want to feel alive.

Life may not always go as planned, or even be planned out at all, but really living life (mistakes and all) is better than just letting it pass us by.

We all have secrets, and many of us do dumb or silly things, but it’s all part of life. In many cases, we didn’t plan it, but sometimes we have to make mistakes to save ourselves.

Not to get too deep here, but I think the biggest mistakes are the ones we make but don’t learn anything from. For me, I often have to do something all the wrong ways to learn how to do it right.

Can you relate? I’ll bet you can, at least on some level. Perhaps that’s why I ultimately loved the show. Jenna does all the wrong things to finally figure out how to do life right – for her.

Bottom line – I say go watch this show!

Desi Oakley, Charity Angel Dawson and Lenne Klingaman in the National Tour of WAITRESS – Photo Credit Joan Marcus
Desi Oakley, Charity Angel Dawson and Lenne Klingaman in the National Tour of Waitress. Photo credit – Joan Marcus

I highly recommend you buy tickets to the show while it’s playing at the Straz Center here in Tampa! You won’t be disappointed. And, you probably won’t be able to get the soundtrack out of your head either. 

Cue the SUGAR – BUTTER – FLOUR melody that I can’t quite shake. 

Waitress The Musical is playing at The Straz Center now through April 29, 2018. To see all the shows playing at the Straz, click HERE!

And, fair warning – Waitress The Musical contains some adult language, and mature situations.

I’m personally gonna be watching the movie this weekend, and I’ve got to get that soundtrack too! Click the images to grab your own copy of each. And yes, these are affiliate links so that I can grab some pie to go with my watching experience!

waitress movie image

Waitress - Original Broadway Cast Recording

 

Check out two more of my recent posts:

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.

 

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

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.

7 Things to Consider When Buying a Car

When you’re buying a car, there’s a lot to consider. That’s why I put together this list of 7 things you should keep in mind when thinking about this big of a purchase. While this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

 

So you want to buy a car? Great! You have so many options when it comes to make, model, size, color, automatic or stick, and power windows and locks. The choices are truly endless. But, regardless of what kind of car you want, there are 7 important thing you should consider before you buy.

7 Things to Consider When Buying a Car

1. Fuel efficiency

One of the first, and perhaps most important things to consider is the car’s fuel efficiency. This is one of the mistakes I made when I bought my current vehicle. Had I thought about the ramifications of low mileage to the gallon, I probably would have reconsidered my purchase. Do you want a hybrid or one that runs solely on gas alone? Do you want a car, a van or an SUV? SUVs and vans generally have lower MPG than cars.

2. Insurance costs

Insurance is a big one, and most don’t consider insurance ahead of time when buying a car. Did you know that you can get general estimates for vehicles with most car insurance companies? You don’t even have to purchase the vehicle before you get this quote. Keep in mind that a car with a bigger engine will usually cost more to insure.  Things such as turbo models and other sports extras will also run you more in insurance fees. And, your car color can cost you more! A red one for example will be a higher cost to insure than a white car, because red ones are more likely to be stolen. (Cue the “more you know” jingle!)

3. Average costs for maintenance and repair

This was another thing I wish I had thought of ahead of time to research. Maintenance and repairs on my vehicle is far too costly. We still don’t have an air conditioner or working heater because after the fourth of time of paying out the ASH to replace it, we gave up on this absurd fee. You should check the conditions of the vehicle AND the reviews of common maintenance issues with the make and model too!

Another thing to look into is the fees you might experience for things like oil changes and air filter replacements. Some vehicles require more expensive oil and tires than others.

4. Research the value of all of your purchase options, get lots of info, and make the most informed decision possible.

No question is stupid. Okay, well, for the most part no question is stupid when you’re debating about a purchase this big. You need to know all the details about the vehicles you are considering so you don’t end up with a lemon. Things like – whether a vehicle has been in an accident, ever had flood damage (hello Florida hurricanes!), and whether it has been reported stolen. Yep, these are things you need to be schooled on before pulling the purchase trigger! Come up with a list of several cars you are considering, and then shorten their list by thinning the herd via your research.

5. Be clear on what you actually want

Yes, you may have to compromise if you want a 2018 BMW but only have a budget for a 2014 Honda Civic. However, you shouldn’t compromise too much. Know what you want, and then look for what you want.

6. Don’t rush the process.

My husband and I tend to adhere to the philosophy of never buying anything when we need it. When we need it, we rush it and then inevitably regret our decision. Again, I confess this is what happened with my current vehicle. Our last vehicle was totalled unexpectedly and I panic purchased instead of slowing down and being smart. Sigh…I’m being smarter with THIS purchase!

7. Consider your current budget, and how you will finance the vehicle (if at all)

How much can you spend on this vehicle? Will you need a car loan, and if so – how much can you put towards a down payment and/or monthly payments? You must be realistic about this. Do you even qualify for a loan? Will your interest rates be good/bad/unspeakable? Thinking about the financial aspect prior to the purchase will certainly save you a lot of heartache later on.

 

Enter the Blinker App.

Blinker is  the first-ever mobile app that puts you back in control of buying, selling and financing cars yourself – and it can all be done with your smartphone.  Using their patented image-recognition technology, they make everything from selling a car with a lien to getting a loan to refinancing as easy as snapping a photo.

Since launching in Texas last year, they’ve saved buyers and sellers an average of $3,000 per transaction, serviced millions of dollars in auto loans, and they even won a 2017 SXSW Interactive Innovation Award.

Their app is currently available in Colorado, Texas and Florida. And, for a limited time, when you download Blinker (for free), enter code FAMOUS and you’ll get $200 when you buy, sell or refinance a car through the app. In full disclosure, I’ll get some cash, too when you use code FAMOUS.

 

Click HERE to learn more about Blinker.

Stay social with Blinker by following along on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Don’t forget!!! For a limited time, when you download Blinker, enter my code FAMOUS and list your car for sale, you’ll earn $200 when it sells.

Sister Hazel, Edwin McCain and Grupo Niche to Kickoff the Food & Wine Festival at Busch Gardens

This weekend the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival begins and I just learned some more exciting news about their kickoff weekend! Check out the notice they just sent me below the image!

TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 26, 2018) – Chart-topping artists Sister Hazel and Edwin McCain, and Latin sensation Grupo Niche will take the stage this weekend at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay’s fourth annual Food & Wine Festival.

The festival takes place on Saturdays and Sundays March 3 through April 29. Concerts are included with any Pass, Fun Card or daily admission.

Sister Hazel – Saturday, March 3 at 5:30 p.m., Gwazi Park

Originally from the sunshine state, Sister Hazel has been considered “one of the Top 100 Most Influential Independent Performers of the last 15 years.” The five gifted and seasonal musicians exude natural talent and charisma with their chart-topping hits “All for You” and “Lighter in the Dark” earning them multiple spots on Billboard charts. Along with being outstanding musicians, the band hosts annual philanthropic events like “Hazelnut Hang” and gives back with Lyrics for Life benefiting cancer research and patient-care. Don’t miss out on celebrating with Sister Hazel here at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Edwin McCain– Saturday, March 3 at 7:00 p.m., Gwazi Park

Proclaimed the “great American romantic” by the New York Times, Edwin McCain has swept the nation with over 20 years of pop music and endless touring. His love ballads and genuine personality makes concerts feel more like nonstop parties. With classic hits like “I’ll Be” and “I Could Not Ask for More”, McCain has proved time and time again that he is truly a one-of-a-kind performer.

Grupo Niche – Sunday, March 4 at 6:00 p.m., Gwazi Park

Join us as we welcome the salsa sensation, Group Niche, to this year’s Food and Wine Festival! Residing in eccentric country of Colombia, this group has taken Latin America by storm with its Latin flares and outstanding performances.

SPECIAL PACKAGES:

  • Food, Wine & Brew Sampler – Guests with exclusive interests in culinary offerings can purchase a Food & Wine sampler that includes any samples of choice throughout the Festival. Samplers are available in quantities of five, eight or twelve and start at $29.99. New this year, a Pass Member exclusive 15-item Sampler is available for the same price as a 12-item Sampler.https://buschgardens.com/tampa/events/food-and-wine-festival/upgrades/sampler-lanyard/

  • Wine, Bourbon and Tequila by the Bottle – Guests can take home a part of the Food & Wine Festival with wine, bourbon and tequila available for purchase by the bottle at the Xcursions gift shop.

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

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.

The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival takes place on Saturdays and Sundays from March 3 through April 29 and is included with any Pass, Fun Card or daily admission. Food and beverage is not included with park admission and is available for an extra fee. Guests must be 21 years of age or older to consume alcoholic beverages.

Be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by following the park’s blog at BuschGardens.com/tampa/blog, or “Like” the Busch Gardens Facebook page, and follow @buschgardens on TwitterInstagram and Snapchat.

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About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 31,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests. Visit AdventureIsland.com or Busch Gardens.com.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company. Visit www.seaworldentertainment.com for more.