Try to Win Tickets to Cirque du Soleil in Tampa

Earlier I wrote about Cirque du Soleil’s 42nd show – CRYSTAL – coming to Tampa in December. This is Cirque’s first ever ice production on ice! #hosted

The show takes audiences on a magical journey into a world where figure skating blends with acrobatics, circus acts and aerial feats. CRYSTAL will be in Tampa, Florida, at the Amalie Arena from Wednesday, December 19 through 23, 2018 –  for a total of 7 shows. Tickets are on sale now. The show is suitable for all ages. Buy tickets online here. 

And now for a very special Cirque tickets giveaway!

I have 4 tickets up for grabs for one lucky reader!

If you were in the Circus, what would your trick be? Can you stand on your head? Can you touch your tongue to your nose like me? Can you juggle while riding a unicycle? SHOW ME!

Post a pic, drawing, concerto or quick video clip on Instagram and tag me @rafdarrow! If you don’t have an Insta, message me on Facebook. I can’t wait to see what you can do!

The fine print: After I announce a winner at the end of November, four tickets will be held for that person at will call for opening day, Wednesday, December 19th. I’ll need your name as it appears on your ID, and you will need to show that ID at will call to get your tickets. The show begins at 7:30pm. Any parking fee would be paid by the contest winner. I am not responsible for tickets, parking, popcorn, soda, beer, lemonade, souvenirs, porta-potties, or anything except giving your name to my contact at Cirque. Hope to see you there!!

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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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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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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Pour la Première Fois: 5 Takeaways from Cirque VOLTA

By guest blogger Rachel Barrett

It was Valentine’s Day under the big top, and my husband and I were offered the opportunity to attend Cirque du Soleil’s latest show, VOLTA, in Tampa. Heralded as acrobatics meets ballet meets action sports, VOLTA’s alignment with Olympic season is perhaps the perfect timing for such a show, when there is a collective, if passing, passion for celebrating feats of human athletic prowess.

Guest blogger Rachel (l) and RunningBetty (r)

The energetic two-hour show flew by in a glorious blur of haunting original music, incredible feats of athleticism, and thrilling daredevil stunts; all peppered with impeccably timed comic relief. For this first-time Cirque attendee, these were my 5 biggest takeaways.

1. Ignorance is Bliss: While I knew of the general Cirque brand, I didn’t know any specifics about #VOLTA, or any of the Cirque shows for that matter. Even after I knew I’d be attending, I did no research of the show, but instead walked into the big top completely oblivious. With no expectations, I couldn’t help but be impressed! The Europop aesthetic, the music, the sets, the lights, the skill of the performers, the fact that there is not a bad seat in the house! I was like a 5-year-old on her first trip to Disney World with each new scene more awe-inspiring than the last.

2. Nods to Pop-Culture: Perhaps it was my novice interpretation, but I found nods to pop-culture at every turn. When we first meet Waz, the main character, I was immediately reminded of Gob’s intro for his magic tricks (no, ILLUSIONS!) from Arrested Development. In the dynamic and commanding male vocalist, I saw similarities to Titus Andromedon, the scene-stealer from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The whole game-show opening overall was very Hunger Games-esque. In addition to enjoying the show itself, my husband and I had fun playing a game of “that reminds me of…”

3. Cirque Crosses Audiences: Before seeing the show, I wasn’t sure at whom exactly Cirque shows were aimed. Is it sophisticated patrons of the arts? Or is it families with young children? Perhaps it’s a different target audience for each show? I can’t speak for all Cirque shows of course, but VOLTA most certainly appeals to all kinds of demographic and psychographic categories – almost everyone can find something to enjoy about this show. There is beautiful ballet, incredible gymnastics, BMX stunts, silly skits, incredible music – it really is like seeing seven different entertainment events at the same time!

4. I’m Out of Shape: The bodies and abilities of these performers were absolutely unreal. They made everything look effortless. Unicycling with a woman doing an arabesque on your shoulders? No big deal! Triple backhandspring-ing through a hip-width ring four feet off the ground? Cakewalk! The muscles and definition of their physiques are jaw-dropping. Instead of pitying myself by comparison, I felt proud to be of the same species!

5. A Word to the Wise: While I loved that I had no expectations of the show, I do wish I’d done some homework about logistics beforehand. The trip from our home in St. Pete to the Tampa Greyhound Track was a long one, particularly because of holiday traffic – if you’re traveling across the Tampa Bay Area (which is totally worth it), give yourself extra time so you can settle in, grab a drink, and take some photos beforehand. Also, the parking/venue area is massive, plus the stairs to your seating area are a bit precarious, at least in stilettos. Shoes that you can walk far in, and up grated stairs are a must. For heel-wearers like myself, a comfortable wedge is ideal.

Overall, Cirque VOLTA was a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Any shared novel experience is good for a relationship, but this one in particular is one that we will be talking about for while. I’m grateful to my friends at Tampa Bay Bloggers for the opportunity to attend.

VOLTA is under the Big Top at the Tampa Greyhound Track now through March 18, 2018. Visit cirquedusoleil.com/volta or call 1-877-9CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783) for tickets, starting at $37.  

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