August 7, 2017

My Mediterranean Adventure ~ Summer 2017


Osh (Tour Guide)

The teen girls
Emily (Freshman Athlete, Carrie’s)
Mia (Sophomore Cheerleader)
Cheyanne (graduated blonde)
Reagan (18-year-old)

The boys 
Ryan (Shy Freshman)
Michael (pre-med Soph, Juliana’s)
Matthew (music Soph)
Amir (Stoic Sr, Linda’s)

The “girls” (2)
Crystal (YLHS)
Amber (YLHS)
Coco (YLHS)

The “Adults”
Carrie (The sisters, #1)
Jennifer (The sisters, #2)
Vanessa (The ladies)
Susie (The ladies)
Sue (The nurse)
Julian (The Lebanese Matriarch)
Linda (The language Teacher)
Vasiliki (The organizer – head teacher)
Dana (The Teacher)
Linda (Dana’s 74 yo mom)

Mon. 19 June – Travel Day
Tue. 20 June – Arrival in Rome
Wed. 21 June – Rome in a Day
Thur. 22 June – The Road to Sorrento (Pompeii)
Fri. 23 June – Visiting the Rock (Capri)
Sat. 24 June – Off to Greece then
Sun. 25 June – Corfu for me!
Mon. 26 June – Corfu Part Duex
Tue. 27 June – Monasteries in the Sky
Wed. 28 June – Athens Bound

Thur. 29 June – The Acropolis

Fri. 30 June – Cruising the Aegean (Mykonos)
Sat. 01 July – Samos Samos
Sun. 02 July – A Warriors Pace to Get Home (Santorini)
Mon. 03 July – Homeward Bound 

Monday, 19 June – Travel Day 

Monday’s easy travel day from LAX became a mad sprint through Frankfurt Airport to catch our connection to Rome. Twenty of us, all new to each other. Sprinting. This is how the “vacation” started.

Tuesday, 20 June – Arrival in Rome 

Once is Rome, it became apparent that not all of us made it – in the form of luggage that is. Both my and Regan’s (a student) luggage remained in Germany. A business world-traveler on the reg, this concept was foreign to me. Yet, this set the tone for how this party was going to go.

Our travel guide, Oshry (Osh), informed us that no one could rest that day– which also set the tone for the rest of the party. Adiamo! We are seeing Rome. Mind you, we just spent over 24 hours traveling in economy, which is brutal. But this was to be the pace. No rest for the weary or wicked.

The group proceeded to follow the guide through the roads of Rome to see iconic fountains, that were always “only 5 minutes away” – which we would soon to realize was always a lie. But it was cool. We drank out of the Fountain of the Ugly Boat at the base of the Spanish steps, then made our way to the Trevi (not sure if that means anything) to make wishes with a million (literally) other people. Rome was packed.

I don’t even remember where we ate that night, only that I was “homeless” without my suitcase, and we were staying in a quaint little hotel close to downtown, with no AC. Where did we eat….?

(We had pizza! Roman Pizza across from the Coliseum and walking distance to the hotel.)

Wednesday, 21 June – Rome in a Day

A little jet lagged, Emily and I thought it a good idea to get up at 4am and wander the streets of Rome.

Strangely enough, everything was closed, even the parks. But we drank freely from the cold street fountains and quickly returned to our hotel for breakfast, after a battle for bathroom time between two sisters and a teenage girl.

Rome was hot and I had not properly prepared myself with adequate clothing in my carry-on – I had brought “ah” dress, as in one. That was all too much material for this weather. Rome was hot.

I paired this dress with white chucks and a newly acquired white “Italia” hat, to which my niece said I was “so brave” to wear out in public – to set the tone. I headed out to conquer Rome in one day wearing full tourist combat gear. Let’s do this.

It was a lot to take in in one day. We started with the Vatican City early to beat the lines. Like VIP, we (21 of us) fast passed it all to the front of the line. Tons of history and art flew by like a computer program download. Through the Vatican Museum, the gardens, and ending in the Sistine Chapel. THE M’F’ing SISTINE CHAPEL. Carrie and I sat together on one side taking it all in. So beautiful, so surreal, filled with a ton of obnoxious tourists – and I was one of them. The Pope, yes – THE Pope, was on premises, so we had to re-evaluate our day trip.

So, from the Sistine Chapel we moved across town via metro to the Forum, then fast passed it onto the Coliseum, arriving VIP on stage. Exhausted and filthy from heat and travel, we returned to the Vatican to St. Peter’s Bastilles to take in its holiness. Now saturated with Rome, we ended the day with pasta and wine then headed to the hotel once the kid’s heads hit the table. My luggage had arrived – sans my very expensive cosmetic bag – fucking Rome!

Thur. 22 June – The Road to Sorrento (Pompeii)

We moved from Rome on to the Sorrentine Peninsula. In the hot, hot sun, we strolled through the streets of Pompeii, marveling at the advancement of the ancient ruins. The Red-Light District of Pompeii was the highlight of the city for the pervs on the tour (all of us).

Then on to Sorrento where I enjoyed my first gelato – lemon of course (known in the region). This day included a lot of walking, but was so much easier than Rome in my appropriate clothing.

The hotel at Sorrento was much nicer, but we had the same issue with the AC – which led me to believe it was user error. However, I found the parlor and enjoyed a big pour of scotch while allowing my sister some private time. I could return to this one.

Fri. 23 June – Visiting the Rock (Capri)

I started this day early again, with a yoga practice out on the balcony that over looked the Sea. We then made our way out to the Island of Capri by ferry. Today was an easy day. Capri is a large mall on a rock with gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea. Much to our delight, we chartered two small boats to take us out to the Blue Grotto to swim and dive. We were waiting for this!!

From the sea, we took a wild bus ride back up to Sorrento, then a calmer bus ride to a farm, where we were privileged to a real Italian cooking class in the art of gnocchi. The gnocchi we made was fed to us with delicious homemade sauce and wine. Once back at the island hotel, the ladies had a nice night cap in the parlor before retiring. We were all becoming better friends.

Arriva dirchi Italy, goodbye goodbye ciao ciao. 

Off to Greece!

Sat. 24 June – Off to Greece Then

On the very long drive across the boot to the coast to catch our ferry to Greece, we stopped at the town of Alberobello, full of trulli – cone shaped homes made of stone. It was a cool place, but hot. The ladies, myself, and the girls decided to find AC before walking the streets of the town. A good choice.

We passed through the ferry security, where an open bottle of wine spilled in my bag, then made our way into our lodging for the night. A ferry full of students and truck drivers. The lodging was in quads so the sisters shared a room with the ladies, and Emily had some freedom for the night. On a ferry, full of truck drivers. The adults shared a bottle of fine Alberobello wine, then finished the exploded bottle on the top deck as the sun set, looking down at all the kids laughing around a table below. We all had become fine friends.

Sleeping deeply that night, we woke up at 4am for our 5am landing call. Of course, with my new travel luck, I had lost the last of my precious make-up in the bunk.

Sun. 25 June – Corfu for me!

We jumped from ferry to bus to ferry to bus to make it to the Greek island of Corfu. Once in Corfu, we dumped our luggage off at reception and bee-lined it to the pool for our first taste of vacation, maybe our second. Soon after we were dragged from our pool-cation, to the town for lunch and some wandering – through a ton of trash. There was a strike. After a delicious gyro and giant beer with the “adults,” we went onward to the Place of Achilles.

The palace was lovely, but I was over it. I’d prefer to be by the pool. Once back at the hotel, we were pleasantly surprised by a large room with 2 showers, 2 room areas, and working AC overlooking the pool! Vacation! We got pretty for dinner at the hotel before walking down to the beach to see a lovely old church. I lit a candle for a friend and played with some stray kittens, then met up with Vanessa for a night cap.

Mon. 26 June – Corfu Part Duex

Today we were promised a beach day! Osh lied. We first had to tour the city (wear I did score an awesome leather jacket), have a 15-course lunch, then see another church before finally getting our cabana by the sea. I enjoyed some free-diving and floating in the sea. We crossed the street to the other beach, where I swam out to see the kids. Today was great! Until we were dragged back to the hotel.

My sister and I made the executive decision to skip the group dinner so we could relax. We showered, watched TV, re-packed, opened the good wine and enjoyed a meal of our own choosing – the simple things!

Tue. 27 June – Monasteries in the Sky

The next day was another early travel day, away from my Corfu, on to monasteries in the sky. We explored two amazing monasteries perched high atop cliffs. The hotel was exquisite, set right below the monasteries. We walked around DT Meteora, with the same view, that were full of locals. Greece is the only place I did not feel comfortable grabbing a brew by myself, the men are aggressive, but not here. I took in a beer under the view and the teen girls joined me – we needed to chill. Unfortunately, we only stayed here the one night.

Off to the city!

Wed. 28 June – Athens Bound

The “plains” of Greece were beautiful – full of sunflowers that follow the sun. Along the narrow roads in Greece are tiny tall alters dedicated to accidents that had occurred there – either in memorandum or gratitude.

Our destination today was Delphi, a ruin of an ancient sanctuary known for its oracles. There was a heat wave moving through Greece, going in our direction, so it was another hell hot day. But Delphi was pretty amazing and worth the near heat stroke. Dating hundreds of years BC, the engineering was masterful. The purpose of the city was to be a spiritual center located in the center of the world, where people traveled to speak with the Oracle. The traveler purified themselves at a fountain at the sanctuary entrance then made their way through the city, deposited their offering at the appropriate treasury, then made their way to the wise one – that was literally high and needed an interpreter. A typical Saturday night.

The sanctuary had an amphitheater, and further up the hill there was an athletic stadium. I made it all the way up to the stadium in the grueling heat, turning purple as I do. I therefore made another executive decision to fast pass it through the museum and sit near the exit in the AC until my face became an acceptable shade of hot pink.

On to Athens then.

Athens is a shithole. Sorry, that’s my first impression. Or at least out hotel was a shit hole. The Ladies’ room smelled of urine and vomit, and there were bugs climbing out of the girls’ wall. I was grateful for my sleep sack. It did not leave a good impression, but it had a great view of the Acropolis from the rooftop.

We settled in for dinner, at the buffet. There were no frills here. The food was great in Greece. Big chunks of feta cheese adorned Greek salads made with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, and tasty olive oil – even at the shitty hotel. And bring on the rooftop drinks – after all I’m paying for the view. But I managed to get in some much-needed yoga mat time, even after an overpriced purple drink.

Thur. 29 June – The Acropolis

We headed to the Acropolis the next morning – early again. There was a new guide assisting Osh for the Greece part, Adaline*. She was softs spoken and knowledgeable.

Gently in the early morning heat, she led us through the Acropolis, with its many temples and forums – and tourists. On the way to the museum, we stopped by the original Olympic Stadium. The one! Once inside the museum, we toured floors of ancient artifact in the delicious AC.

Then we were set free in the area of Blatec. So, a gaggle of us adults made our way to find authentic food and adult bevs. We found an amazing space with a hot Greek waiter who also treated us ladies to shots – et xaristo!

That night we had our Greek dancing lessons, which was a bit awkward without booze. Opa! After, we made our way to dinner back in Blatec. The ambiance was good, but the food at lunch was better. They had dancers, and pulled one of the ladies up to guzzle wine (grabbed from a different group) with them. It was a fun time.

Then we went back to the hotel of death – renamed. A few of us decided to make our way to the rooftop for an expensive scenic drink. On our way up, Carrie, Susie, Emily, Mia and myself got trapped in the elevator mid-floor. Mid sinister sister evil laugh, the elevator stopped, dropped, and locked in place. Carrie flipped out, Susie and I handled that shit. Well, Susie punched the call box and I informed them of our dilemma, that is after Susie told Carrie to stop breathing so hard and using all the oxygen. 

The two young girls were fine – and we took selfies for the social media, to send help of course. After 8 minutes of sheer terror, the hotel manager opened the doors wide enough for us to climb up out of the box (ever seen Resident Evil?) and into safety – then went off on us for being upset with situation. “Fucking American’s” I think were his exact words.

Luckily, that was our last night there. Shithole.

Next up – cruising the Aegean Sea.

Fri. 30 June – Cruising the Aegean (Mykonos)

Finally, some down time after a ridiculous wake up time to get on the ship. My first cruise! Three mimosas, a nap, and 2 rums later, I was ready for the excursion to Mykonos.

Sick of shopping, Vanessa and I grabbed a gyro (with fries inside – so good) and just wandered the streets like stray cats. Until finally resting on a sea side wall with our feet in the water. Barely talking, we sat there, watching the fish and our feet in the water.

As the sun set, we ran through Little Venice looking for the perfect spot to catch the sunset. Handsome Greek men grabbed our hands and tried to pull us into bars, but we wanted none of it. We decided on a rock on the oceans’ edge just beneath a little church. Beautiful.

Once back on the ship, my sister and I enjoyed a nice glass of wine as we watched out kids sneak into the disco – minus our angels Emily and Amir. Kids.

Sat. 01 July – Samos Samos

Saturday was another early morning call to the Island of Samos. Some adults were smart and skipped it. But it was one of my favorite Greek islands. Perfectly small and quaint, with a great diving sots, we were stranded there for four full hours while the ship made its way onto Turkey. By stranded I mean, we got a cabana near a cute family owned restaurant and only left the wonderful blue water long enough to refill out beer or enjoy the best seafood salad I have ever had – after an 8 am wine tasting that is – the struggle is real.

Once back on board, we all opted to get fancy and enjoy the benefits of the cruise ships. A delicious, meal, a show, and the disco with the kids – opa!

Sun. 02 July – A Warriors Pace to Get Home (Santorini) 

Sunday was a shitty travel day. Again, up early at 4 am to get to Crete where it was 110 degrees in the shade, at 8am. We were all over it. FTS. The Labyrinth – yay…. Another ruin in the heat. I opted to skip the tour of closed shops and enjoyed a Cretan Tea in some AC. When in Rome, right? Wait… Crete.

Back on board, we packed up and enjoyed the last of our drink package before setting off to the Island of Santorini. A fantastic island that we got to visit for all of an hour. However, my sister, Emily, and I found a lovely lone tree in front of a small chapel overlooking the Mediterranean for Papa’s latest view. Then I broke off from the group to enjoy some quiet and local fare.

We met at the meeting place, duh, and made our way to the Santorini Airport, when we realized one of the boys had left their phone in town. He paid a cabby a good deal of euros to go back and get it for him – lucky him. We were all a hot mess as we spent more time in the Santorini airport than we did in the town. 

Mon. 03 July – Homeward Bound

The plan was to catch a hopper to Athens, stay in a hotel across from the airport, then catch out early flight home. By the time we got to the hotel, we had all of 3 hours to clean up and rest. And it was probably the nicest hotel we had stayed in the entire trip. And I was separated from the trifecta! But what evs, it was only three hours. Plus, all the kids bunked together in a single room, obviously dreading the separation that was to come the next morning… Obvi.

Frantically making it to the airport – we realized Emily had left her retainer in the room. All this way, so close! But we made it through customs with Osh, then through Germany on our own – being ditched by some of the group that had had enough. Then finally home sweet home, or rather LA and close to home. And we got stories! …Fucking Athens.


May 24, 2017

| evolution |

Do you think some people just get to a point in life and say – “Ok, now I'm perfect,” then stop evolving to stay stagnant? Maybe some do, and maybe they are perfect. I am not one off those people. 

I recently took a year off dating after getting out of a yearlong roller-coaster relationship. I thought it a good time to work on my own shit sans other’s (being male). It was glorious – really liberating. Absolutely the best - no one did it better than me... (see what I did there?) There is something freeing on the psyche to say, “No, this year I am not dating.” It relieved any sense of anxiety that I “needed” to find someone; it also allowed me to say no to guys I might have otherwise have said yes to and thus have repeated the same dating rut I've been stuck in for some time now (I refuse to say for how long, but it might be a decade). 

During this glorious year to myself, I had a few ex boyfriends return to my life, as if the universe was testing my resolve. Obviously, I had somehow held on to these men in some sort of belief that I had fucked up an opportunity that shall never return in my life. “He was the one and I missed it, my life will forever be on the wrong path.”  This statement is not true.

One ex, BSB (before Santa Barbara), came back after a decade and proclaimed I was the one. Every woman wants to hear that! The ego wants to know that you missed ME. But it only highlighted how much I had changed and he had not. I was not that person I was a decade ago (thank god – I’m sure my sister would agree). I had spent this last decade working hard on my growth – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, professionally. I wasn’t that little girl with stars in her eyes for this man. I was at lease a wee bit more mature. I had explained that I wasn’t dating this year and working on some stuff, to which he exclaimed, “Shit Jenny! You are always working on yourself.” 

He said this as if it was a bad thing. It resonated with me. I had started yoga about two decades ago but still think I am a novice, and I work on that shit daily. How is working on your “inner” self any different. Am I supposed to wake up on Wednesday, go to meditate, then stop, “Nope. I’m perfect.” That’s not how it works. At least not for me.

Now I am not here to bash on this man. This experience helped to highlight my growth – and this should be celebrated. Wooo!! Sometimes you have no way of measuring how far you have come until a yardstick is thrown in your face, metaphorically of course. I struggle daily thinking I am not getting anywhere, but apparently, I have grown more than I have realized. For this face-plant yardstick, I am grateful.

This last year of purposefully not dating helped me see where I needed to grow and heal. That last breakup shined an intense light on my flaws, and although I may want to point that light at the ex, very brightly so that it's blinding, that’s not helpful. That is for him to illuminate and work on... or not. My business is on my own work. 

Now I am half way through 2017 and have had the opportunity to date a bit.  This is not a dating blog - but maybe it should be... jokes. That said, every date and interaction is an opportunity to look at that yardstick. Maybe it’s the scientist in me that is constantly observing, measuring, analyzing, hypothesizing… Adds to the intrigue I’m sure. But even in the opportunities that do not work out I find a new hypothesis to investigate, a new direction for my continued growth. That’s evolution for you.

"You cannot solve a problem from the same mind that created it." - Albert Einstein 

February 25, 2017

Porgy and Bess ~ February 25, 2017 @ The Victoria Theater

Summertime and the Living’s Easy

Jazz started to play behind a closed curtain. Scenes from the American 1960’s Civil Rights movement danced on the curtain, illuminated from a projector in the back of the theater. They depicted African Americans fighting for equality. It’s curious how themes repeat themselves throughout history.

Porgy and Bess took over the stage of the Victoria Theater this last month thanks to the Ensemble Theater Company. A musical written in the early 1930s, its theme is just as relevant today as it was back then, although there have been some contemporary adaptations. This particular production was set in the poor fishing community of Catfish Row during the 1960s, brought to life by the sound of jazz prominent in that era. In a nutshell, Porgy is a disabled man living in Catfish Row with a good sense of community, but no woman. Bess is an attractive cocaine addict from the city attached to a well-to-do thug. Things go awry when they visit The Row, Bess’s thug has to skip town in a jiffy, and Bess shacks up with Porgy to wait it out. They fall in love, and then once again, more things go awry.

The small cast worked well together, cohesively portraying a small, poor community that sticks together to care for their own, while keeping out of the “Boss Man’s” way.  The cast efficiently moved pieces around a well-designed set to help establish each scene. Through effective lighting, movement, and of course singing, the New Vic was transformed into Catfish Row during the summertime.

However, the beauty in the story is in its telling – or its singing in this case. The entire cast oozed talent, making jazz that brought both joy and sorrow to the audience. Elijah Rock’s physical depiction of Porgy was so flawlessly executed, I was sure Rock was handicapped himself. And with his deep, soulful voice, Rock added rich soul to his character’s plight. Karole Foreman’s sweet voice made you forget that Bess was an aging addict that lived off men.  However, Frank Lawson stole the show with his portrayal of Sportin’ Life, a previous resident of Catfish Row who is now all fancy in the city and slinging dope.  Lawson danced, swayed, and taunted the others throughout the story, making it hard to know if Sportin’ Life was a good guy or a bad guy – because he was certainly a fun guy.

It was a great ride, with all its ups and downs, suspense and romance. The underlying current of addiction and inequality was painstakingly vibrant throughout the entire ride. Luckily we had jazz, that made the living easy.

January 14, 2017

Gavin DeGraw ~ January 14, 2017 @ The Granada Theater (part of the Kids Helping Kids Benefit)

For the Kids

They seemed so professional – poised, articulate, and intelligent on stage. Knowing exactly when to pause for effect, adding a bit of drama and a dash of humor to the night’s events. And they were kids. Kids helping kids by throwing a benefit worthy of professionals twice their age and experience.

The night began with young gals and guys lining the entrance to The Granada decked out in formal black ties and black dresses, applauding the patrons who came to support their cause. Kids Helping Kids is a non-profit organization ran by San Marcos High Schools students that aid other kids in need across the world. This is the ninth time the group has organized the annual benefit, and it showed in the execution.

The night was packed with quality music, with singer-song writer Gavin DeGraw headlining the showcase. But of course KHK had to showcase one of their own – a young up-and-coming artist from San Marcos, Jazara. Although the young songstress only performed one song, she set the tone for the night.

Parachute, a band formed in Charlottesville, warmed up the crowd with their infectious pop tunes. With four albums and over 10 years touring under their belt, they really knew how to get the crowd moving. Only a two-piece this evening, they still managed to get a groove on, forcing the crowd to their feet and demanding attention in a fashion that only southern gentlemen know how to do with so much charm.  Simple songs purposely written to impress the ladies did just that as they performed their hits “She is Love” (think of a scene from One Tree Hill – wait that’s DeGraw) and “Can’t Help” (think Maroon 5 inspired). Talented and gracious, Parachute represented what the night was all about as they acknowledged the hard work that went into making the benefit a success.

And like a boss (bossi?), the kids took to the stage again to remind the audience why they were here – to raise money for disadvantaged kids. Again, with poise and intelligence, they broke down what a donation could bring around the world: $5000 – a year’s college tuition, $1000 – a teacher’s salary, $500 – HIV treatment.  Students throughout the Granada held flashing paddles up, waiving towards patrons as they made donations in envelopes provided under each seat. One after another, paddles lit up, making this quite a successful night.

Then came the main event, Gavin DeGraw. The piano man was accompanied by a percussionist and a guitarist on an elegant yet simple stage set. Known for his love songs, DeGraw did not disappoint. “Unlike politics and cars… Love does not go out of style,” DeGraw declared as started into a love set, playing selections from his six albums, the latest of which was just released in September 2016. And he hit the main veins, playing his poignant break though “Not Over You,” his arduous “Follow Through,” the more upbeat “Sweeter,” and his latest very danceable “She Sets the World on Fire” (not in that order). Throughout the set DeGraw was very personable with the crowd, at one time jumping down and going deep into the crowd to take selfies with lucky patrons. He too was grateful for the evening, telling the story of how the song “I Don’t Want to Be” literally got him out of his home town and a life he did not want to lead.

And sometimes that’s what you need – you need a little push, a little help, maybe a lot of community to come together showing gratitude for what they have and compassion for what others do not. And sometimes it takes kids helping kids to remind us.

December 8, 2016

Mr. Little Jeans ~ December 8, 2016 @ SOhO

Conscious Dancing

When Millennials don’t have their phones out snapping selfies during a show, you know you are in a hot spot. Touted as “the show” by one of SOhO’s very own bartenders, it appeared I was indeed at the spot, as the crowd was actually conscious in the moment.  

Mr. Little Jeans, known as Monika Birkenes on her driver’s license, graced the SOhO stage with her presence to a captive, crowded audience. The Norwegian born songstress’s smoky voice enveloped the room and beats filled every corner, leaving everyone swaying in the aftermath. The young crowd seemed mesmerized in her presence, as she danced on stage accompanied only by drums and keyboards. It was all vocals, tribal beats, and conscious dance moves from MLJ.

Mr. Little Jeans’ performance was a unique mixture of elegance, poise, and poignant relatability. Definitely classifiable as an electric pop “diva” in training, she had a dedicated following as the crowd moved along knowingly to “Waking Up,” “Good Mistakes,” “Stitches,” and “Haunted.”  Catchy tunes, slightly different yet slightly the same.

There is a lot of counter culture shrouding MLJ, including the conception of her stage name – but that is google material. MLJ’s performance was as whimsical as her delicate electronic music, which kept the crowd dancing – and that’s conscious material.

November 17, 2016

Tyrone Wells ~ November 17, 2016 @ SOhO

Comfort Food of Music

You know when you go to a restaurant that’s been hyped up and you get a meal that’s decent, but doesn’t quite excite the taste buds – well that’s what I got with Tyrone Wells.

Tyrone Wells is a singer/songwriter of typical form. Catchy tender songs, heavily relying on lyrics and relatability. His songs have been played on TV shows during the dramatic ending as the lead comes to some sort of life-changing conclusion and a single tear falls down their face.

Wells visited SOhO on his Cover to Cover tour, which Wells pleasantly explained as him playing songs off all his albums, but his first – which he’s heard too many times, as well as some covers off his newest album, amply named “Covers.” He played to a seated crowd full of his fans. It’s not often SOhO has seats, so it was a sign of the mellow evening to come.

While accompanied by his talented band, the songs were bouncy and upbeat. When playing solo acoustic, the songs were more melancholy and heartfelt. The set had a feel and tone of a Christian Rock band, and after some research, it was discovered that’s how Wells got his start. His fans definitely were dedicated to him, singing the chorus and rejoicing in its pleasantness.

Tyrone Wells seemed like a nice guy with a decent voice and catchy songs. It was very pleasant, but just didn’t set my world on fire. fine. Sometimes you just need comfort food, and that’s just fine.  

November 3, 2016

Lizzie ~ November 3, 2016 @ Center Stage Theater

The Devastation of a Little Girl

Contemporary musical theater is not a new phenomenon; musicals have been around for ages. However, hard rock musical theater is a bit newer, and quite a bit more electrifying. 

Lizzie, an Out of the Box Theatre Company presentation, tells the story of a young Lizzie Borden just days before the infamous brutal death of her father and stepfather in 1892. Written by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Alan Stevens Hewitt, and Tim Maner, the story reasonably portrays the facts of the events, while taking some liberties in the story in between. Not a light hearted story, they portray the gruesome events with vivid imagery set to the back ground of hard, close to punk, rock, giving the story a deeper sense of insanity.

The cast is what makes this musical event stand out.  Katie Moya plays Lizzie, Amy Soriano-Palagi plays Lizzie’s sister Emma, Sydney Wesson plays their neighbor Alice, and Samantha Corbett plays the maid Bridgett (sometimes called Maggie).  The four of them create a rock opera event like no other. Accompanied by a live four-piece band set behind a curtain on a stage with a choice few props, the show centers entirely on the girls; their emotions, reactions, and interactions with each other. Together they tell the heart wrenching yet brutal story of the deterioration of a young girl as she slips deeply into darkness. 

Act 1 is one of innocence lost. Lizzie visibly struggles with the “secret” of her family, which is implied carefully through hints and innuendoes via songs in a very punk rock fashion, more Sonic Youth’s “Kool Thing” than West Side Story’s “I Feel Pretty.”  Feet stomping, clutching the mic stand, Lizzie screams “Why are all these heads off?” as the light of innocence visibly leaves her after her father brutally chops off the heads off her beloved pets. Lizzie’s world gets darker. All violence is implied in the background but seen in the anguish in the violence of the songs throughout the act. The intensity, complexity, beauty, and violence build until Lizzie goes mad, culminating in the ensemble gathering together in the beautifully poignant and painful “Mercury Rising” musical piece consisting of no words, only moans of loss. Then murder...

Act 2 is the emergence of a new Lizzie, a darker one. All four
ladies appear in period appropriate under garments and heavy, somewhat whorish, makeup. Perhaps to portray how hot it is in August, but most likely to demonstrate their power as females in their new world. It’s all in the interpretation. There are reprisals of songs from Act 1, but their meanings are reversed in this inverted world. Intricately intertwined within new lyrics, the twisted new world of Lizzie Borden is revealed. No longer the innocent victim, Lizzie is now a monster herself, wickedly commanding attention and getting her way, again in a very punk rock fashion.  Lizzie counted down her days in jail until pay day upon her release in “Thirteen Days in Taunton,” once again clutching the mic stand and stomping her foot. Then the verdict…

Historically accurate (cuz I fact-checked immediately), Lizzie stoked the fire of interest in the historical events surrounding the scandal of Lizzie Borden. Executed craftily through the use of provocative lyrics and hard rock, the lesson in history was quite painless and somewhat subliminal. The lesson was painless, but not the devastation.