Things To Do This Weekend: See Les Miserables In Charlotte

Les Miserables
Les Miserables: Mary Kate Moore as Fantine

It’s almost the weekend and we don’t have to give this week to the kiddos and Halloween [Happy Halloween, by the way]. The kids get today. That’s it. This weekend can be yours! So here’s what you need to do. Get dressed up, go out to dinner with your friends and catch Les Miserables at Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte, NC. You can thank me later.

Things To Do This Weekend: See Les Miserables In Charlotte

Tuesday night, my friend Leigh and I did just that. Neither of us had seen Les Miserables on the stage previously. And I really knew very little about the plot of the musical except what my friend, Jason, told me: that a man’s life was forever changed after he stole a loaf of bread to feed a child.

Les Miserables
Les Miserables: Allison Guinn as Madame Thenardier

Cameron Mackintosh presents the new production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon, Les Misérables, direct from an acclaimed two-and-a-half-year return to Broadway. With its glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, this breathtaking new production has left both audiences and critics awestruck, cheering “Les Miz is born again!” (NY1). Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption – a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Featuring the thrilling score and beloved songs “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” and many more, this epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history.

Les Miserables may have been written by Victor Hugo in the 19th century, but the story still resonates. Poverty is an issue that is, unfortunately, quite prevalent today. And the punishment and “invisibility” to other members of society that can often come with an impoverished existence is something that we may never overcome. Why is it that the people who have often feel like the people who have not deserve their placement in life? Why is it that the people who have often feel that their fortunate placement in life at birth has more to do with their rights than sheer luck?

Les Miserables
Les Miserables: Josh Davis and Nick Cartell

Instead of giving a hand up and out of poverty, we often punish those that are poor with anything from late fees [more money they don’t have] to punishments that are both biased and disproportionate to the actual crime committed. These “deterrents” often drive the convicted, and also their family, further into poverty, thus producing a virtually impossible to break cycle of recidivism. It’s hard to change your life when the system seems to work against you.

Les Miserables
Les Miserables: Jillian Butler as Cosette

The themes of Les Miserables are relevant today and the music will break your heart. When Fantine tearfully sings, “I Dreamed A Dream,” how many of us can relate? We’ve all experienced heartache, sadness, loss and desperation. And many of us have felt utter hopelessness at some point in our lives, as well.

Through all of the heartbreak and loss, in the end, Les Miserables is a story about hope and redemption. Though life can sometimes seemingly beat us into submission, there is still always the possibility for change just around the corner. Most of the characters in Les Miserables have no material possessions. But what they do have is hope. Though “..life [may have] killed the dream I dreamed,” it will never stop me from dreaming a new one.

See Les Miserables now through November 3rd at Ovens Auditorium. Get tickets here.

Les Miserables
Les Miserables [Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy]

Things To Know Before You Go

Ovens Auditorium has convenient parking in a lot right beside the building. I had not been to Ovens Auditorium prior to this night and was glad for the ease of parking as that is not always the case in cities. One of the parking lot security guys also told me that Ovens Auditorium has been in operation since 1955.

Learn about how you can support Blumenthal Performing Arts through donation here.

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“Mary, Queen Of Scots” At Piedmont Opera + Tips For First Time Opera Attendees

tips for first time opera attendees

I love music. What I find funny is that, since I was an on air personality at a country radio station, I have run across many people that mistakenly assume that ALL I like is country music. And that is not even remotely close. I think my musical tastes are pretty well rounded and I like at least a few artists in in most any genre from Bluegrass to Rap.

“Mary, Queen Of Scots” At Piedmont Opera + Tips For First Time Opera Attendees

Here’s an example: in high school, I went on a trip to Canada and saw “Phantom Of The Opera” off Broadway and I was mesmerized. I came home and immediately found the Broadway soundtrack and played that poor cassette into the ground. “The phantom of the opera is here inside your mind…”

tips for first time opera attendees

Fast forward to the present where I found out that the Piedmont Opera was doing a production of “Mary, Queen of Scots.” Since “Phantom Of The Opera” is the closest thing to an opera I have ever actually seen, I really wanted to expand my cultural repertoire and check this out.

tips for first time opera attendees

Freedom. After 18 years of being held prisoner by Queen Elizabeth, her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots breathes fresh air. Believing herself to be the true heir to the throne, Mary has been imprisoned first for plotting against her cousin, and ultimately for attempting to murder her. This day of freedom turns to condemnation as these empowered women have a momentous meeting.

My Thoughts On “Mary, Queen Of Scots”

On Friday night, I took myself to Winston-Salem. I went shopping and then to the Piedmont Opera’s production of “Mary, Queen of Scots” [starring Yulia Lysenko as Elizabeth I and Jodi Burns as Mary Stuart] at the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem, NC and I thoroughly enjoyed my evening. I don’t know all of the proper terminology to describe my opera experience sufficiently to you, but I did attend the opera pre-talk so that I can start educating myself. If given the opportunity, I think you should always choose to learn. You are never too old to expand your horizons and to expose yourself to new things. You never truly know what you will like until you try it. And I absolutely loved the opera! The singing was amazing, I mean next level amazing. The costumes were gorgeous, the educational experience beforehand was interesting and I had a great experience overall that I hope to get to do again really soon.

tips for first time opera attendees

Tips For First Time Opera Attendees

Don’t let your not having previously experiencing something stop you from ever experiencing that thing. That’s absurd. I had many questions before I went to the opera, but I really wanted to go and I did not let my questions stop me. Let me share some tips for first time opera attendees with you so that hopefully I can alleviate any fears you might have before going to the opera yourself.

  1. Is there parking near the Stevens Center? Yes, there is. I parked in a nice garage about 1 block away and paid for my parking in advance with my card. The machine takes cash, as well, so it’s super convenient. The deck was not crowded and I was able to easily pull away after the opera as my parking was already covered.
  2. Do people dress up for the opera? Yes, many do. Most men were wearing suits and ties, but I did see a few in nice pullovers or button down shirts. Many of the women were in cocktail dresses, but many were also dressed business casual. I was wearing a nice top, leggings and slip on shoes and felt completely comfortable. I do not recommend wearing jeans, tshirts, or other super casual clothing.
  3. Is the opera in English? I am sure that many of them are, but “Mary, Queen of Scots” was in Italian. However, there was a screen above the stage with the dialog in English for you to easily follow along. No, it was not running super fast like you sometimes experience with movies with subtitles. I find that stressful. I think the opera subtitles shared just what was necessary so that you could follow along and still be engaged with the production taking place on the stage.
  4. Can you donate to Piedmont Opera? Yes you can! Click here to learn how you can make a tax-deductible donation to the Piedmont Opera.
tips for first time opera attendees

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9 New Downton Abbey Character Posters #DowntonAbbeyFilm

9 New Downton Abbey Character Posters #DowntonAbbeyFilm

Who is as excited for the forthcoming Downton Abbey film as I am? I remember when I watched the series, I informed my family that from then on they were to start referring to me as “Me lady.” I am shocked to say that for some ridiculous reason they weren’t having it. Oh well… If you are into elaborate courtships, being referred to as British high class society and the epic side eye and biting sarcasm that is Violet Crawley, this is your year! Downton Abbey is coming to theaters on September 20, 2019. Grab your afternoon tea and check out the trailer and 9 new Downton Abbey character posters below.

9 New Downton Abbey Character Posters #DowntonAbbeyFilm

9 New Downton Abbey Character Posters #DowntonAbbeyFilm
9 New Downton Abbey Character Posters #DowntonAbbeyFilm
9 New Downton Abbey Character Posters #DowntonAbbeyFilm
9 New Downton Abbey Character Posters #DowntonAbbeyFilm

Story: The television series Downton Abbey followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country house.  Over its 6 seasons, the series garnered 3 Golden Globe Awards, 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, 69 Emmy nominations in total, making Downton Abbey the most nominated non-US television show in the history of the Emmys – even earning a Special BAFTA award and a Guinness World Record for the highest critically rated TV show along the way.  

Director:  Michael Engler

Writer: Julian Fellowes

Producers: Gareth Neame, Liz Trubridge, Julian Fellowes

9 New Downton Abbey Character Posters #DowntonAbbeyFilm
9 New Downton Abbey Character Posters #DowntonAbbeyFilm
9 New Downton Abbey Character Posters #DowntonAbbeyFilm
9 New Downton Abbey Character Posters #DowntonAbbeyFilm

Cast:  Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Matthew Goode, Harry Hadden-Paton, David Haig, Geraldine James, Robert James-Collier, Simon Jones, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Tuppence Middleton, Stephen Campbell Moore, Lesley Nicol, Kate Phillips, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Penelope Wilton

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Win A Bumblebee Bluray/DVD [US Ends 4/21]

Win A Bumblebee Bluray/DVD [US Ends 4/21]
“I’m all out of love. I’m so lost without you…”

Have you seen Bumblebee yet? If not, it is now out on Bluray, DVD and Digital! The cool 80s setting and soundtrack of the movie inspired me to hunt down some long lost Bumblebee glamour shot outtakes from a photo shoot way back. 😉 Enjoy! And don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena, below! Good luck!

“Bumblebee” Starring Hailee Steinfeld & John Cena Is Out Today On Bluray/DVD

CYBERTRON has fallen. When OPTIMUS PRIME sends BUMBLEBEE to defend Earth, his journey to become a hero begins. Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenager trying to find her place in the world, discovers and repairs the battle-scarred robot, who’s disguised as a Volkswagen Beetle. As the DECEPTICONS hunt down the surviving AUTOBOTS with the help of a secret agency led by Agent Burns (John Cena), BUMBLEBEE and Charlie team up to protect the world in an action-packed adventure that’s fun for the whole family.  The film is rated PG-13.

Win A Bumblebee Bluray/DVD [US Ends 4/21]
“I didn’t mean to miss your birthday baby…”

I admit, I was weary of the new imagining of Transformers without Mark Wahlberg, just like I was when he came on board as a replacement. Change can be hard to accept. I was definitely wrong though. Hailee Steinfeld played an empathetic and troubled teen, Charlie, trying to find her place in her forever changed family after the loss of her dad. And you can’t help but love her.

Win A Bumblebee Bluray/DVD [US Ends 4/21]
“Turn around. every now and then I get a little bit lonely…”

My friend Jason watched Bumblebee with me and, as a huge Transformers collector as a child, he was pretty excited about the throwback 80s versions of both the Transformers and Decepticons in this installment in the franchise. I have to admit, they do look really cool. And, naturally, the soundtrack is radical, gnarly, bodacious and all that other mess we used to say back in the 80s, too.

Win A Bumblebee Bluray/DVD [US Ends 4/21]
“God bless the rains down in Africa…”
Win A Bumblebee Bluray/DVD [US Ends 4/21]
“Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?”

For me, the real stars of this show are, of course, Bumblebee and Hailee Steinfeld, but John Cena makes a great “bad guy” who you can actually still like, too. I feel that any movie that he is part of is made better by his presence. It’s also nice to see another wrestler giving The Rock a run for his money.

Win A Bumblebee Bluray/DVD [US Ends 4/21]

Win A Copy Of “Bumblebee” Starring Hailee Steinfeld & John Cena On Bluray/DVD

Be sure to pick up a copy of Bumblebee on Bluray/DVD today and check out all of these cool toys at a retailer near you: DJ Bumblebee, Bumblebee Stinger Blaster, Transformers: Bumblebee — Energon Igniters Nitro Series and the Transformers: Bumblebee — Energon Igniters Power Plus Series. Don’t forget to enter to WIN a copy of Bumblebee on Bluray/DVD below. This giveaway is open to the US and ends on 4/21. Be sure to come back daily for more chances to win! Good luck!

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See “Instant Family” Now On Bluray/DVD

Win A Bluray/DVD of "Instant Family" [US Ends 3/24]

Last night I watched “Instant Family” starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne. If you are looking for a sweet, family friendly movie, I highly recommend it. But it’s not just fluff for the family to enjoy together, not that fluff is bad, this movie has a sweet and meaningful message about the importance of adoption.

[Read more…]

Check Out The Latest Johnny English Strikes Again Trailer & Pictures #JohnnyEnglish

Check Out The Latest Johnny English Strikes Again Trailer

I just love fall. It seems like so many great, funny movies start hitting theaters during this time of year. And it gets cooler outside, so that makes me want to go see more of them. This October, be sure to check out Emma Thompson as Prime Minister and Rowan Atkinson as Johnny English in Johnny English Strikes Again, a Focus Features release. [Read more…]

Tully Premiere, Pre-Party & Mom’s Night Out Advance Screening

Tully Premiere, Pre-Party & Mom's Night Out Advance Screening

A couple of weeks ago, I flew out to Los Angeles and had a really fun couple of days doing all things Tully. I got to hang out in Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Culver City and attend a Mom’s Night Out Advance Screening, a Tully Pre-party hosted by Refinery 29 and I was able to take part in a press junket and help interview the cast and director of Tully. 😀 You can check out my review of Tully here and be sure to come back later this week to read my transcript from the press junket with Charlize Theron, Ron Livingston, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass and Jason Reitman. [Read more…]

Tully Movie Review: Why This Movie Perfectly Addresses Postpartum Mental Health Issues [Contains Necessary Spoilers]

Tully Movie Review: Why This Movie Perfectly Addresses Postpartum Mental Health Issues [Contains Necessary Spoilers]

I love doing movie reviews and hate including spoilers. However, this one will contain spoilers – but only necessary ones. With Tully, I want to talk less about the acting, directing and writing, and more about the bigger conversation that has started online because of this movie, which hits theaters this Friday. Tully stars Charlize Theron, Ron Livingston and Mackenzie Davis and is written by Diablo Cody. From this point on EXPECT SPOILERS in our Tully movie review and please do not read further if you don’t want me to “ruin” the movie for you – though I assure you that I will do my best not to. I will definitely not be revealing anything than has not already been shared by others. [Read more…]

Check Out The Official Book Club Trailer

Check Out The Official Book Club Trailer

I have to say, I just love Jane Fonda. I have been watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix and she and Lily Tomlin just kill me. I went to a media event at Dollywood earlier this year and I was also happy to hear straight from Dolly Parton’s mouth that they are working on a new 9 To 5 movie that will have her, Lily and Jane in it! So, I just found out about this movie coming out next month that I just had to share with you guys! Check out Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen in the new Book Club trailer! [Read more…]

A Wrinkle In Time Posters & Mrs Whatsit Clip #WrinkleInTime

A Wrinkle In Time Posters & Mrs Whatsit Clip #WrinkleInTime

Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time finally hit theaters everywhere this past weekend! Have you seen it yet? If so, what did you think? If you haven’t seen it yet, and you are looking for a great, family movie, we think this is definitely one that you should consider. Just in time to celebrate the recent theatrical release, we have some movie fun to share with you. Check out A Wrinkle In Time posters and Mrs. Whatsit clip below. [Read more…]