Review: Venus in Fur

“What is an English word for significant other? …Asshole!” – Venus in Fur

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Christian Conn Male Lead: Thomas photo credit: Pittsburgh Public Theater
Christian Conn
Male Lead: Thomas
photo credit: Pittsburgh Public Theater
Whitney Maris Brown Female Lead: Vanda photo credit: Pittsburgh Public Theater
Whitney Maris Brown
Female Lead: Vanda
photo credit: Pittsburgh Public Theater

It was a dark and stormy night… when a dark haired woman (Whitney Maris Brown) stormed her way into an audition hours past closing, with no appointment, and no reservations. Vanda manipulates the playwright, Thomas (Christian Conn) into a last minute performance, in which he feels he is humoring her whim while wasting his time.  She seems predictable, scattered and immature until she begins to read for the role of the female lead; rather, she  unleashes a fresh side to a very vintage dominatrix in making.

Venus in Fur is “symbolic”, as mentioned several times between the show’s only two characters. The chemistry between them is erotic and intense. They share the control and bully each other to come out of their comfort zones as they invest their personal emotions into an imperfect script. There were no intermissions or breaks in the one scene show. It was especially refreshing to witness Brown’s portrayal of Vanda, uninhibited and sensually mysterious.

#venusinfur #pittsburghpublictheater #goddessnight

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I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and the performance alike. I was nervous that the show was going to be overwhelming sexually, however I found it to be more psychological. It is a very intelligent script, about a script. The story moved seamlessly from “real” to “rehearsal” mode between the actors with different voice tones and inflections portraying several emotions and reactions, as well as subtle lighting and costume changes written into the action.

I highly recommend this show to those with a passion for arts, women and the art of being a woman. HAIL APHRODITE!

To get tickets, you can click this link. Tickets cost between $30.00 – $60.00, https://goo.gl/L6n5Nw,
or call 412.316.8200, ext. 704 to order in person.

Many Thanks to The Pittsburgh Public Theater and all of the wonderful vendors featured at Goddess Night.

#PPT #PittsburghPublicTheater #GoddessNight

****

link to Venus in Fur Preview

Review: Rain, A Tribute to The Beatles

Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles returned to Pittsburgh this Monday, for a one night only performance. My 19 year old son was excited to be my date, as he grew up listening to me grow up with my parents listening to them grow up with The Beatles. Whew!! Three generations of adults all whom have found a special love for the greatest band of all time.

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What an amazing collage. Photo credit: 411inthe412
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My son and I Photo credit: 411inthe412

This was my second time experiencing Rain, and many of my friends asked me, “Are they any good?”

Well, let me tell you a little story that goes like this… two, three, fo –

“Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.” Imagine a concert, a play and a history lesson with a little bit of audience participation all wrapped up into two acts of music and imagery. Yeah, it’s pretty powerful stuff and not your everyday cover band. Decades of performing together have bonded the Fab 4 to perfect melodies, harmonies and even individual body language, facial expressions and quirks of the boys themselves.

Their day names are Steve, Paul, Joe and Aaron… but at night they are John, Paul, George and Ringo (Ob-la-di Ob-la-da). They play the music of The Beatles, live with instruments, as nothing is prerecorded or lip synced. They endure 5 costume changes between video clips taking you through the Magical Mystery of the 60’s and how The Beatles came to Let It Be.

What started as a cover band has become an incredible Broadway production appropriate for all ages of music lovers. Thirty nine songs composed this night’s performance; although many of the infamous twenty seven #1 hits were played, they squeezed in some lesser popular songs to give it the real feel of the flip side. Some included, “In My Life”, “Girl” and “If I Fell”. And, each member wowed with their own solo renditions including Paul’s “Yesterday”, John’s “Across The Universe”, George’s “Here Comes The Sun” and Ringo’s “A Little Help From My Friends”.

My first experience last year left me in tears, and this year was no different. I sprouted goosebumps more than once and found myself singing, dancing and hugging my son during every love song. It was magic.

As compared to the first time I experienced Rain, it just seems to get better, like a fine wine. Or, perhaps my Beatle appreciation is growing and I’m finding more to enjoy about the show. Either way – I hope they come back next year.

I love you @raintribute

Click here to order essential Rain Gear!

Thanks as always for the continuing support of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust @culturaltrust

 

Visit Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt

Saturday February 6 marks National Frozen Yogurt Day, and many will be celebrating by visiting their favorite local shops to indulge on froyo and fixings. Especially so if the weather holds up as it has been here in Pittsburgh.

About 10 minutes south of Downtown, you’ll find a friendly little hangout in Mt. Lebanon that serves, in my opinion, the best froyo in Pittsburgh. Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt is located conveniently in a cute cubby of the South Hills, and offers a very unique selection of gourmet, organic frozen yogurt. I had the chance to visit Owner Lyl Rose at her store this week to sample the flavors on tap.

I asked Lyl, “what is important to know about Piccadilly that it stands apart from the rest.” Her answer was simple. Literally. Simplicity of ingredients and knowing the source of them is very important to Lyl. The history of Piccadilly is based on sourcing local farmers to provide a quality product, natural and unstripped of nutritional value. Froyo isn’t the only thing offered that is organic. Toppings are also locally sourced, including a good selection of fruits and nuts. Lyl aims to offer a variety of flavors of yogurt and toppings that are yummy and indulgent, as well as healthful and guilt free.

Hand drawn by a local high school student
Hand drawn by a local high school student

And, now for the taste test. My favorites were…

  • Salted Caramel… is sooo good. It tastes very similar to butter pecan ice cream. Balanced flavor and viscosity to activate the sweet and salty simultaneously, and again I stress, no bitter!
  • Vegan Coconut mixed with Pineapple… you would think this would taste like pina colada. You would be wrong, as I was as well.. But, what I discovered was frozen coconut milk makes for a very delicious alternative to high fat yogurt.
  • Sweet Cream… Nature’s vanilla. So plain, so sweet. The Tart is just as awesome, like a plain greek yogurt.

I’ve always liked frozen yogurt, ice cream, custard, etc. I am particular about texture, more so than flavor. What I noticed right away was how it compared to the texture of Rita’s custard, stiff but creamy. The vegan flavors were a little more icy, but still had a firm shape and served well. I tried a little of each flavor, and mixed a few together just for fun. I was impressed with the sweet flavor and heaviness of the cream yogurts. And the best part – no aftertaste! How is that possible? No Aspartame! None.

Divider
You can even use a divider if you want to sample more than one (or 4 flavors)!

Lyl takes pride in her shop, from decor to substance. Her shop is family friendly, equipped with a party area stocked with board games, and other toys to make it a nice place for teens to chill, or parents to make a pitstop or playdate.

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As you can see, we had a great time!

Getting our #froyo on at Piccadilly. Totally unplanned surprise

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If you are interested in learning more… you can visit Piccadilly on Facebook by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/PiccadillyPittsburgh

Stop by this Saturday to celebrate #NationalFrozenYogurtDay and #Picca your favorite flavor! Click here for the Facebook Event page

 

~ Carri

Review: Cabaret

Meine Damen und Herren,
Mes dames et Messieurs,
Ladies and Gentlemen…
Guten Abend! Bon Soir! Good Evening!

und welcome to the Cabaret!

Willkommen beinvenue welcome! #Cabaret @culturaltrust Thank you!! @411inthe412

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Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, The Roundabout Theatre Company made its way to the Benedum Center this week as part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh Series. I danced at the opportunity to see their production of Cabaret, as I was a virgin. Don’t believe me? Just take my word for it. This was my first time at the Cabaret. Call it a pilgrimage.

Photo Credit: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Photo Credit: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Cabaret (re)visits a turbulent era, between world wars, when an aspiring novelist from America visits Berlin to find boarding and inspiration. Naive Clifford Bradshaw arrives. Within hours he meets a series of people who will stage for the plot of his wildest adventure: a charismatic burlesque performer, and her whims. Sally Bowles, who has been in Berlin for too long, and tries to initiate an instant romance with Cliff, is worldly, decadent and intoxicating. All is marvelous, until crises arise, and too many are left facing whether its nobler to do the honorable thing, or walk away.

Randy Harrison served as “Emcee” quite deliciously. If he looks familiar, it may be from his previous TV role on Queer As Folk.  The multitalented Kit Kat Girls (und Boys) feverishly decorated the stage from beginning to end in their raunchy, indulgent ways, with and without instruments, or clothes. Andrea Goss gave a great opening night performance, enrapturing the persona of a carefree, selfish yet sincere Sally. Her solos shined, but her best numbers were choreographed with the company. Everything was just beautiful.

Even the Orchestra was beautiful.

A little FYI:

The Roundabout Theatre Company has been recognized with 29 Tonys, 41 Drama Desks, 50 Outer Critics Circle, 10 Obie and 15 Lucille Lortel Awards for its work on five stages, reaching more than 700,000 theatergoers and employing hundreds of artists each year. Bank of America is a proud 50th Anniversary Season sponsor – a partnership that makes possible Roundabout’s many productions and not-for-profit initiatives during this landmark year.

I was, in a word, overwhelmed, by my first live Cabaret experience. Religion, politics, abortion, money, sex, drugs, dancing and music. What else? Italian fruit. This Valentine’s Day, I hope to find a pineapple on my pillow. It has been the raciest show I’ve seen at the Benedum Center, which leads me to hope there may be more…

Go… see this show… leave the kids at home, and don’t tell mama.

To get tickets or more information about this production, please visit The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust by clicking here.

Upcoming showtimes: Wednesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday at 2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.; Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (trustarts.org, 2016)

Thank you, as always to The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for their continuing support.

For Tenderizing Meat, It Can’t Be Beat

It’s hammer time! HA!

This Cave Tools‘ Meat Tenderizer is quite unique compared to the ones I’ve previously used. Let’s start with the ergonomics. It is designed with a heavy handle, offering even weight distribution balancing the head to the grip. This allows for a steady hand when bringing it down on to the target.

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Next, the head. One side is smooth, one is convex, but its not sharp. Compared to a standard mallet, which has a side with sharp, pyramid shaped teeth, the Cave Tools mallet is safe to touch. So safe I let my four year old niece help me pound some chicken.

A few smacks of the hammer later, and voila… gorgeous stuffed chicken!

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Cave Tools does a great job of making sure that their products have a little something extra, quality wise, to compare to other brands. In the case of the Meat Tenderizer, I am mostly impressed with the power it has in hand. You don’t have to be strong, or have a bold, handshake grip with the mallet. Its easy to handle, and when it is used, the weight distribution puts all the punch in the right spot.

I chose to make stuffed chicken for my test drive, but this tool can also be used to crack nuts, crush bread crumbs, break up chocolate bark or peanut brittle, or smash just about anything you wish. (just remember, its not a weapon, even if you feel like Thor holding it)

Two thumbs up, of course.

To order your own click here: http://cavetools.com/products/meat-tenderizer-mallet/?utm_source=Blogger&utm_medium=Review&utm_campaign=Tenderizer

or here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q75SBO4/ref=sr_1_23?ie=UTF8&sr=8-32&me=A3IEEDMWTA8OSP&keywords=meat+tenderizer&linkCode=as2&tag=hyacinth10-20

How about a special deal… here is an Amazon discount code for 15% off: KRYLK4CT

Thank you to Michael, and everyone at Cave Tools for your patience and partnership 🙂

Review: The Wizard of Oz

The epic tale of Dorothy Gale (and her little dog too) made its way to Pittsburgh this week at The Heinz Hall of Performing Arts. Last night was opening night; my daughter and I were there in the 9th row during our first Mother Daughter date of the new year. This was very exciting for us, as we are both fans of the movie. It may sound cliché, but we truly had no idea what was in store when the curtain rose.

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‘Mindblowing’ is all I can think of to describe this unique journey to Kansas, to Oz and back again. The show began with a screen of clouds, and the stage was set to a gorgeous sepia lighting, giving the scene the old fashioned black and white cinematic appearance of the 1939 film. We met the lead characters in their Kansas forms as an uncle, and aunt and a few funny farmhands who haven’t the time to humor Dorothy’s drama, until Toto bites the leg of the town’s nastiest neighbor. Miss Gulch threatens to have Toto destroyed, causing Dorothy to run away from home to avoid losing him. She stumbles upon a friendly travelling Professor, who intrigues her to believe there is a place, Over the Rainbow, where she is loved and understood.

Photo courtesy of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Photo courtesy of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

But, there is no time for that now, there is a storm a’brewing.

An untimely twister scoops up the Gale house and drops it into a land, far away, full of color and magic, and more specifically on top of the Wicked Witch of the East killing her instantly. And that’s when the real story begins.

One by one we are reintroduced to our cast in their colorful counterparts of a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion (who is “proud to profess is a Friend of Dorothy” despite his lack of nerve), a Wicked Witch after a coveted pair of ruby slippers, and a Great and Powerful Wizard (or so we think. Spoiler alert: He’s not *that* great).

Sarah Lasko played a bold, and sassy Dorothy, full of spunk and wit. Her stage and singing performances were on point, and she ensured pure confidence in her presence.

New songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were weaved to the complete lineup of classics enhancing the story without straying from the original script, and giving a more personable depth to the characters, especially The Wicked Witch of the West. Honestly, The Witch’s solo was powerful enough to almost make me feel sorry for her and her disposition. Almost. Or, at the very least, I now want flying monkeys of my own.

Photo courtesy of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Photo courtesy of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

My daughter was most impressed by the high quality graphics of the many drop screens layering the lay of the land, and the three dimensional feel you get being whisked away into the eye of the storm, among the lightning bolts and flying cows. Yes, that’s right. Flying cows. This IS Kansas afterall.

I was most impressed with the loyalty to the original script. There was very little improvisation, changing lines and storyline alterations. I could almost speak the story from memory right along with the characters. Although, I was amused when Dorothy said to the Scarecrow, “I think I will miss you most of all.” And, the Lion and Tin Man replied with a big, fat and loud “Thanks a lot!!”

The Wizard of Oz will be playing Jan 6 – 11, various show times. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Click here for the official Press Release

As always, we thank The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for their continued support of our blog.

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This Thermometer is HOT

Have you heard of Cave Tools?

I had not heard of them either, until recently. I received a request for a product review of their Instant Read Digital Cooking Thermometer , which lead to my first experience with their company.

My first thought of the thermometer was, it was very thin and lightweight, as compared to an older model with a linear gauge. I remembered back to my food handler’s certification class lessons when we were taught to examine the stem for the input nodule, and make sure it is deep in the food’s center, long enough to get an accurate reading.

Yeah, not the case with this brand. In order to maintain a safe distance from the hot food, the temperature sensor is located at the bottom half inch of the probe stem. And, its thin design makes it very easy to insert into smaller foods.

Photo Credit: 411inthe412
The Thin Tip

I used it throughout my cooking to see how it worked.

Photo Credit: 411inthe412
Baked Ravioli

The ravioli was my first experiment. I was curious to see how fast it would register such a thin food. The results: on point. So, I went on using it with everything I cooked all week.

Photo Credit: 411inthe412
Crock Pot Angus Roast

Mental Note: This roast was wonderful and fell apart without serration. Fall apart temperature is apparently 211. 🙂

Photo Credit: 411inthe412
Breakfast Sausage Links

Normally I would cut them in half to see if there was still pink in the middle. This is far more efficient.

Photo Credit: 411inthe412
Baked Potato wrapped in foil

Because you know if you take the potato out too soon, it ruins the meal!

As you can see, I had fun with it.

I recommend using this thermometer for two main reasons. One, the compactivity of size makes it convenient to get an accurate temperature using a smaller sample of food. This means less hovering over an open oven door, or grill waiting for a reading, all the while letting heat escape and potentially burning yourself! And two, it is more efficient than an old school thermometer, and more economical than an expensive digital reader with probe wand. It’s inexpensive, at under $14.00 you are getting a Lifetime guaranteed instant-read thermometer, perfect for sneaking quick temperature checks during tailgating. Ok – that’s three things. My fault.

You can purchase your own from their Website or Amazon.

Psssst…. if you order via Amazon, use promo code LH58KB66 and get 15% off!

Sincerely, Carri… from my kitchen

 

Want me to review a product? Contact me!

You’re as “Beautiful” as You Feel

Have you seen “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” yet? Thanks to The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and PNC Broadway on Pittsburgh, Beautiful is playing the Benedum Center this week (Oct 27 – Nov 1).

At 16, Carole Kline sold her first song under her stage name, King, confirming her desire to be a writer and musician was stronger than her mother’s desire of her to become a teacher. Although raised by a (slightly) jaded single parent, Carole believed true love existed and could conquer all. She met Gerry Goffin in college; he initially disregarded her talent due to their age gap, but she quickly spun his head when he heard her play Bach on demand. They made a complementary pair and together they went on to get married, have children and write dozens of songs made popular in the 1960’s by bands such as The Shirelles and The Drifters.

However the happiness did not last forever for the Goffins. Gerry began to show signs of mental illness which would cause him to act erratically, ultimately destroying his marriage to Carole. It was after the divorce when Carole realized her life’s work had always been half Gerry’s efforts. She needed to find her own words to match the melodies in her heart, and she needed to use her own voice to sing them. She wrote and published her solo album “Tapestry”, and as they say, the rest is history.

Beautiful also tells the side story of the blossoming songwriting pair Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, who, although were competition to Carole and Gerry, were found to be their best friends. They struggled to decide how to title their “partnership”, but would always come back to the basics of business to find their harmony.

Abby Mueller envelopes all that is Carole in her performance. Mueller’s portrayal reflected Carole’s intelligence and street smarts with her quick witted responses and innuendos, her shyness with quivver and her soul in her shout. And, like Carole, not every note was on key, but it was natural and breathtaking as a pure emotion in poetry is.

Tickets are still available for upcoming performances. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

http://trustarts.culturaldistrict.org/production/43961/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical#tab=overview

@trustarts #Beautiful #CaroleKing #BroadwayInPittsburgh

 

Oh, What a Night! Jersey Boys Rocks The Benedum

Jersey Boys Forrest Theatre
Jersey Boys
Forrest Theatre

It’s unlikely that you would meet someone who didn’t know who Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons are, or were. If there are any questions as to how they earned their stardom, please, hold them until the end, because they will likely be answered in order by the end of the show.

A talented cast depicts a fast moving, cynical yet sinister threesome of felons looking to be discovered under the street lights, while taking care of business in the shadows. Mafia and music brought them together, and split them apart until they met the missing corner of their square knot. And, that’s when they saw “the sign”.

Two acts, divided (appropriately) into four “seasons”, each narrated by a different member of the band. The songs tell the stories, but you can’t let your ears deceive you. Watch for the body language and subtleties as each member reacts as the story unfolds from another’s point of view.

If you haven’t seen the movie… don’t! Be surprised by the Musical performance. And, if you have an aversion to offensive language (yes, I mean the F-bomb), don’t take the kids! It gets heavy at times.

If you haven’t seen Jersey Boys here in Pittsburgh yet, there is still time! The company is in town until Sunday October 4. Visit http://www.trustarts.org for tickets.

Source: Jersey Boys – Pittsburgh | Official Ticket Source | Benedum Center | September 22, 2015 – October 4, 2015 | PNC Broadway In Pittsburgh