The Play That Goes Wrong in Tampa

When I was in NYC last fall, one of the Broadway shows my husband wanted to see was “The Play that Goes Wrong.” We never made it to that show – and he was excited to see it was going to be right next door this fall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. In fact, it kicks off their Broadway 2018-19 season this week! Thanks to my relationship with the Tampa Bay Bloggers I was able to receive 2 tickets for us to watch the show in exchange for my honest review.

I read this show would be hilarious. And not just from critics, but from J. J. Abrams. While shooting “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in London, he went to see “The Play that Goes Wrong” and enjoyed laughing at it so much that he told their creative team he would help bring the show to the USA. He became the producer, and one night on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” he surprised the whole audience with tickets to the show – about 400 people walked from the Colbert show through Times Square to this play. 

Note I said play. It is not a musical. It is a silly, funny play. Funny like Jack Tripper on “Three’s Company” tripping over the sofa and falling into a somersault on the living room floor. Kind of slapstick, lots of comedic timing, nothing you need to think too hard about.

The silliness begins from the moment you get your program. Because the show is about a theatre group performing a play (yes, it’s a play within a play) the program reads like their theatre company’s program snuck in the middle of the Straz Center’s program.

You’ll want to arrive early to read some of that, and to see members of the cast doing silly things in the middle of the audience.

The Play that Goes Wrong” has a 1920s whodunit and a love story and tons of goofiness. Everything that could possibly go wrong with a stage production goes wrong. And I mean everything. Things break, people fall, fires start, costumes go inside out, props get mixed up… EVERYTHING!

I recommend sitting back, relaxing, and turning your mind off so you can spend a couple hours just being entertained. Hopefully you’ll LOL and if you’re lucky you’ll ROTFLYFAO. It couldn’t be too bad – after all, it’s the longest-running play currently on Broadway!! (Closing Jan 6, 2019.)

“The Play That Goes Wrong” is in Tampa, Florida, through October 21, 2018. Just six more shows! The Thursday, October 18, 7:30pm performance will be sign language interpreted. Get tickets here.

Also at Straz in the Shimberg Playhouse is “Edgar & Emily.” This much more intense drama features two talented actors on one set for 90 minutes. In the show, Edgar Allan Poe visits Emily Dickinson 15 years or so after his death, and they discuss writing and each others’ neuroses.

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Pumpkin Muffins, 2 Points each

These fluffy muffins have only 2 smartpoints each on the WW Freestyle program, formerly known as Weight Watchers.

Enjoy some of the flavors of fall with real pumpkin, apples and just the right spices! This uses the 2 ingredient dough base so popular on the WW Connect app.

If you have points left, spread on an extra treat – like a bit of pecan apple butter!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 c nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 c whole wheat flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c finely chopped apple
  • 1 TB powdered peanut butter (like PB2) or unsweetened cocoa (to tone down the sour flavor of the yogurt)
  • a few shakes of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger (or just use pumpkin pie spice mix if you have it, but I didn’t.)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*.
  2. Stir together pumpkin and yogurt until well blended.
  3. Add flour, baking powder, egg and apple. Stir until just blended.
  4. Add powdered peanut butter / cocoa and spices. Just when you think you have enough, add another shake of cinnamon and ginger.
  5. Spoon into a tin for oversized muffins – makes 4 muffins.
  6. Bake at 350* for 20 minutes. Leave in oven, raise temp to 400* and bake 8 minutes more. Test with toothpick that centers are firm before removing from oven.
  7. Place muffin tin on a cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin.

Enjoy!

People on the WW Freestyle plan can expect to lose .5-2 pounds/week. Try one month free with this link: https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/checkout/iaf/?iaftoken=ACEC411600

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Cirque du Soleil returns to Tampa Bay with CRYSTAL

Cirque du Soleil’s 42nd show – CRYSTAL – is coming to Tampa in December 2018. This is a unique show due to it being the first ever ice production Cirque du Soleil has done!  #hosted

Be taken on a journey into a surreal world where synchronized and freestyle figure skating blend with acrobatics, aerial feats and circus acts. Watch world-class ice skaters explore a frozen playground with never-before-seen acrobatics in a stunning new production.

The story behind the show: The creative young woman, Crystal, a misfit heroine, will take you on an exhilarating tale of self-discovery as she dives into a world of her own imagination. Feel the adrenaline as she falls through the ice into an upside down, surreal world to become what she was always destined to be: confident, liberated, and empowered. CRYSTAL invites you to set aside reality and drift into a world that springs to vibrant life with astounding visual projections and a soundtrack that blends popular music with the signature sound of Cirque du Soleil. The show is about looking at things from fresh angles and reframing one’s daily reality to see what one might have missed. Discovering one’s individuality occasionally requires venturing out on thin ice. (Yep, I went there!)

Fun fact: Eleven different nationalities are represented in the cast.

CRYSTAL performances will be in Tampa, Florida, at the Amalie Arena from Wednesday, December 19 through 23, 2018 –  for 7 shows. Tickets went on sale Saturday, September 8. The show is suitable for all ages. Buy tickets online here. 

Cirque Club members may still be able to get some seats at a discounted price. Check the Club website for details. Cirque Club membership is free and benefits includes access to advance tickets, special offers, and exclusive behind-the-scenes information. (I’ve been a member for about six years.)

Check back next month… in November I’ll have a giveaway of Cirque tickets for a reader or 2!

If you love to cosplay, Crystal has flamboyant red hair, is clad in a vintage, blue, plaid skirt and a light turquoise cardigan-style shirt and a red scarf. She is creative, unpretentious and loves to write.

Fun fact: More than 180 million spectators have seen a Cirque du Soleil show since 1984!

For more details and to get a glimpse, follow #CRYSTAL and @cirquedusoleil on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | BUY TICKETS NOW

Photo credits: Matt Beard / Costumes: Marie Chantale Vaillancourt / 2018 Cirque du Soleil

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Chicago the Musical at the Straz

As part of their Broadway series, the Straz Center in Tampa, Florida, is welcoming the razzle-dazzle smash “Chicago” this week.

Chicago is slinky and sexy, it’s funny and brutal, and it makes you think twice about what you hear and what you read. It’s actually all about SEX, CRIMINAL JUSTICE and FAKE NEWS. And I’m not kidding. It is intended for mature audiences, and they should wear their black fishnets. (That said, on Thursday, September 20, deeply discounted tickets are available for teens, plus a free pre-show event with live entertainment, games, raffles and refreshments.)

This jazz-era hit musical is the recipient of 6 Tony Awards®, 2 Olivier Awards, a Grammy®, and is now the No. 1 longest-running American musical in Broadway history. The 2002 film version of the musical won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It must be the hot dance moves from Bob Fosse!

So here’s the setting. Think back to the 1920’s. It was lewd and lascivious for a woman to roll her stockings down. Rouge was the devil. Booze and jazz music were corrupting people right and left. Suddenly there was a string of murders committed by women, and rumor had it that in the city of Chicago a pretty woman would not be convicted. The world was just too bamboozled by the right hair curls, the bat of an eyelash, and some cleavage.

There are real women and real cases the show is based on, and most of the events are very plausible. It makes consumers of journalism (us) think twice. And that’s all I will tell you.

However… there’s more to my story…

I hear only 5% of theatres who ask for the rights to perform Chicago receive those rights. And somehow a few years’ back my kids’ school managed to buy rights and perform Chicago. It is a little odd to see 17 year olds who babysit the little ones suddenly turning cartwheels and cha-cha’ing in fishnets and black lingerie. But it was so well done and very, very FOSSE.

Chicago at Shorecrest, 2014

My son auditioned and came home with his role on a piece of paper. It said, “one actor to play the jury.” We didn’t know what that meant. I said he probably had to sit in a jury box in a courtroom scene and do nothing. Boy was I wrong. He was ONE actor playing all 12 members of the jury! It was pure comic relief… He had little bits of costuming pieces in the jury box and would duck behind the box and pop up real fast as a cowboy, or an old lady, or someone crying into a tissue with a rosary. He played all 12 jury members in succession and the audience never knew what he’d pop up as next. (In addition he was a reporter and an ensemble singer/dancer.)

My favorite part of their production was the opening number, “All That Jazz.” It really sets the tone and shows off the singing and dancing. So when you go see Chicago at the Straz, don’t be late! It would be criminal to miss it! The show runs September 18, 2018 – September 23, 2018 and ticket prices start at $31/ea. (Except the teen special I told you about.)  The Thursday, September 20, 7:30pm performance will be American Sign Language interpreted.

BUY TICKETS NOW

Thanks to my relationship with the Tampa Bay Bloggers I received 2 free tickets to see “Chicago” in Tampa, FL, in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

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Save $10 on groceries

I don’t usually promote something I have not experienced, so when I saw an offer to save $10 off $50 of groceries by using the new https://grocery.walmart.com, I decided to try it for myself first.

Basically, you put all the items you want in your online shopping cart, then choose to pick them up at an available nearby Walmart, or have them shipped to you. I went for pickup. My local Walmart Neighborhood Grocery was not on the list, just the larger Walmart superstores near me. I’m sure it depends where you live. You get the Walmart low prices for the exact items you want without having to step into the store!

It was nice to think about the basics I needed for my day-to-day eating, and staple items I was running low on too – like soy sauce or apples, throughout the week instead of just during one shopping trip. I kept adding to the cart throughout the week without having to grab my credit card. So when we ran out of napkins and face wash, I quickly added those. And it’s not only limited to grocery/health, so I added a clip hanger on the list for my closet too. And I was able to continue adding through Friday night.

I chose Saturday 9-10am for my pickup, because I have an 8am meeting nearby on Saturdays. Pickup is free! There may be a fee to get your pickup faster.

First you make an account on the website. Obviously they have to know where you live to find a store near you, and if you do pickup you need to download the Walmart Grocery app to let them know when you are on your way. The website says: Choose a date and time for your order by clicking “Reserve” before you start to shop to make sure you get the time slot you want. This will also ensure you are looking at the store inventory of the store where you’ll pick up. You can also wait to book your time slot until you’re ready to place an order, but you risk not having your desired time available.

If you want items to show up on your doorstep, the delivery fee varies, and is based on the time slot you book. They use different partner companies to fulfill delivery orders depending on where you are located. Basically, they are trying to compete with Amazon Prime Now.

You can also choose to substitute or NOT substitute items on your list with a simple checkbox. If you you are accepting substitutions and the store doesn’t have the item on your list, they will go for the same item just a different brand – or they will substitute it for a bigger size at the same price.

I checked the app when my meeting ended at 8:33 and I was ready to drive to Walmart. The app said my order was ready (a little early) and I just had to click the “Check in” button to let them know I was on my way. I had the choice of sharing my location so they knew exactly when I’d be there, and what color my car was. I shared both. (The only thing missing here was a reminder to follow the orange arrows in the parking lot when I arrived, but I remembered that from the website.)

I drove down the street to Walmart and followed the orange arrows to the side of the building where there was a designated pickup area under a large, orange overhang for shade. Three other cars were there the same time as me – 8:42am. They all backed in to have their trunks facing the building. That’s not my style so I pulled in facing forwards.

Someone came to my car window with a device and asked my last name. About 6 minutes later two girls with some plastic bins on a dolly came to my car. They offered me a cold, bottled water. Then they asked if I wanted everything in my trunk. I said yes. One asked if I wanted the bread up front with me. I said it could go in back with everything else. The three of us loaded my trunk together, only because I chose to get out of my car. I certainly didn’t need to. I wanted to kind of eyeball the order and be sure it was right.

Everything in my order was right. One item that I allowed substitution for was substituted – the napkins were a different brand. They let me know that, and had me digitally sign their device and approve my order.

When I got back in my car I had missed a text from Walmart letting me know my order was ready!

The biggest drawback of using this system was the plastic bags. I shop with canvas reusable bags and try to avoid single use plastics in general. Luckily the kids at the school I work for use plastic bags for an art project each spring, so I have a place to turn them in to be reused. The volume of bags was increased because some items were double bagged, and sometimes one item was in its own bag – which was fine for the bread but wasteful when it was simply because the 2 items came from a different department.

One great convenience, besides not having to enter Walmart, is that you can easily reorder the same items again.

All in all, I got my groceries with forethought and ease and $10 off!! You can too! Just use this special link to shop, and you can share the link with anyone who hasn’t tried the system before – it’s good for any new customer: http://r.wmt.co/keG3w

This post was not an ad. I just used a coupon and shared the info.

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