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'Jaws in Concert' at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts

The crushing tear of the mighty Orca's bow rang through The Mann Center for the Performing Artsin Philadelphia last Saturday. The Great White's destruction was projected in high definition as part of The Mann Center’s “Jaws in Concert.”
"Jaws," the original summer blockbuster, kicked off this season's Movies @ the Mann series. With the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia performing the score live, it brought a new found excitement to re-watching Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic about a Great White Shark marauding off the coast of Amity, which according to Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) means friendship.
Audience members were part of a full sensory experience as the Orchestra, conducted by Dirk Brossé, heightened the excitement and anxiety as they performed the Academy Award-winning score by John Williams. Even though I’ve seen the movie many times, listening to the memorable music being performed live made it feel like I was watching the movie for the first time…
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Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square

Giant smiling pandas, a 200-foot fire breathing dragon and a serene blue elephant greet visitors to this year's impressive Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square. This celebration of light and culture features artisans from China creating magnificent steel-framed and silk-wrapped giant lighted sculptures, using traditional Chinese methods.

Now until June 30, Franklin Square will glow with 28 larger-than-life illuminated groupings of 1,500 individual works of art with more than 15,000 LED lights in brilliant colors. New technology and engineering will be utilized to bring an endangered species gallery to life for the first time in the United States. 
Other highlights include celebrating the Year of the Dog, tropical birds and fish, mythological animals, the world premiere of a new Fairy Tree, a walk-through Great White Shark Tunnel, and an interactive elephant lantern where visitors pedal a bicycle to change its colors.

As guests gaze at all the colorful lanterns …

Charming history in Alexandria, Virginia

Located just a few miles southeast of our nation’s capital, Alexandria, Va., offers a pleasant respite from the busy political hustle of Washington, D.C. Alexandria is a vibrant destination in its own right.

This city was the launch point for Major Gen. Edward Braddock’s infamous Wilderness Campaign during the French and Indian War (Carlyle House) and the site of one of the first casualties of the Civil War (now a Marriott Hotel). The city itself has also been indirectly affected by history. It became one of the major slave markets for Maryland and D.C. (even when the slave trade was outlawed D.C.) and was embroiled in recent news as Christ Church has long displayed plaques honoring past parishioners George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

With warmer weather right around the corner, this is a great time to visit such a walkable city. Visit the waterfront, which offers countless activities including boat cruises, kayaking, festivals and a bike trail. The Torpedo Factory Art Center, foun…

'Something Rotten!' at the Academy of Music

“Something Rotten!” is a zany mashup that has a grand time with Shakespeare and the Renaissance. It showcases why audiences love musical theater.

Set in the 1590s, this hilarious musical, now at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, tells the story of Nick and Nigel Bottom (Tony nominee Rob McClure and Broadway’s Josh Grisetti), two brothers who are desperate to write their own hit play while the "rock star" Shakespeare (Adam Pascal) keeps getting all the hits.

Conceived by brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick, this musical brings us to the Renaissance but it's’ edgy comedy, asynchronous dance numbers and quick-witted dialogue keeps the audiences in the spirit of today.

The Bottom brothers, although talented in their own right, can’t seem to get ahead in the theater world because of “The Bard’s” popularity and their frustration is brought out in song frequently. This Broadway production keeps all the irreverent humor, and delivers jokes “to the groundlings” with great…

A stellar 'Philly POPS Christmas' at the Kimmel Center

With twinkling lights, classic Christmas carols and even a visit from Santa, the audience was swept up in the holiday spirit watching “A Philly Pops Christmas Spectacular Sounds of the Season” last weekend at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.

Music Director Maestro Michael Krajewski conducted the sensational show featuring over 300 musicians and singers, including the 65-piece Pops orchestra, guest vocalist Justin Hopkins, organist Peter Richard Conte, the Philly POPS Festival Chorus, the Philadelphia Boys Choir and the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir.

The Pops sounded exquisite as they performed amongst the twinkling trees on the stage and sparkling lighted snowflakes above.

Hopkins's booming bass baritone voice was perfect as he narrated "The Grinch Medley." Describing the furry, green, grumpy recluse living above the town of Whoville (on Mount Crumpet) , Hopkins was superb as he sang "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.…

'Finding Neverland' at the Academy of Music

Inspired by the 1998 play The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee and his 2004 adaptation Finding Neverland, the musical made its world premiere at the Curve Theatre in Leicester in 2012, with the reworked version making its world premiere in 2014 at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[1] Following completion of its Cambridge run, the production transferred to Broadway in March 2015.

After 17 months on Broadway, the production of Finding Neverland closed on August 21, 2016, and began a US national tour in October 2016.

Directed by visionary Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus and based on the critically-acclaimed Academy Award®-winning film, Finding Neverland tells the incredible story behind one of the world’s most beloved characters: Peter Pan. Playwright J.M. Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother.

Spellbound by the boys’ enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write a play that will …

'It's a Wonderful Life' at Walnut Street Theatre

Although it was an unusually warm 70 degree November night, we were transported to a crisp Christmas Eve as we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Life Radio Play” now onstage at the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3.

“Life” is one of my favorite movies, and it’s now a family tradition to catch it at least once every holiday season. This production brought all my beloved memories of the movie to life as the five actors seamlessly performed multiple roles (as many as 25 characters), sang, played instruments and created imaginative sound-effects.

Set in a 1940s radio station, several posters featuring Dick Tracy, The Shadow, the comic book superhero Blue Beetle and the Abbott and Costello film “Who Done It?” hang on the wall. Set Designer Scott Groh draws the audience into the holiday radio magic with a small Christmas tree, twinkling lights, classic dynamic microphones, sound level meters and even “On-Air” and “Applause” signs that turned on and off when needed.