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Beautiful—The Carole King Musical is Some Kind of Wonderful

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In the ’90s, when most other kids my age were listening to Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I was listening to the music of Carole King. My mother and my aunts introduced me to the healing power of her music when I was a little girl. In 1994, my aunt Maryann bought me a boxed set, Carole King: The Ode Collection (1968-1976) from Costco. I have listened to this boxed set throughout my life and it remains one of my staples in my iTunes playlist.

Much like King’s music itself, “Beautiful—The Carole King Musical” is a cathartic journey of the heart. In the touring production, King is portrayed by Abby Mueller. Muller’s younger sister Jessie Mueller portrayed the same role on Broadway.

Abby illuminated the stage at Broward Center for the Performing Arts bringing King’s character to life as her vulnerable love affair with the roving-eyed lothario Gerry Goffin unfurls. The lyrics to their songs provided a diary of sorts for their romance. As they penned hit after hit with such beloved favorites as “Will You Still Love Me,” “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Up On The Roof,” it’s impossible not to connect with King’s pain as she struggles to stay relevant in the evolving sound of the early ’70s as she fights to keep her family together.

As groups such as The Drifters, The Righteous Brothers and The Shirelles comes to life on stage, the impact of King and Goffin’s music on American culture is undeniable. I found myself giddy at various points in the show as hit after hit was performed. “Oh my God, they wrote that one! And that one,”I squealed in my seat. The music in this show is incredible and the cast, which includes Ben Fankhauser as Barry Mann and Becky Gulsvig as Cynthia Weil, is a force to be reckoned with.

It truly was beautiful watching King go from teeny bopper girl song writer to a solid, dynamic solo artist who would become a voice of a generation and inspire many generations to come.

“Beautiful—The Carole King Musical” runs at Broward Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday May 22. Tickets are available at Browardcenter.org. Then the show continues on a tour throughout  America. It returns to South Florida Feb. 1-5 in  2017 for a stop at Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. Visit Beautifulonbroadway.com for details.

 

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My personal tribute to my beloved boss and friend, Pam Doto

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How do you say goodbye to the one person you never wanted to leave? Pam Doto was much more than an editor to me. She was my mentor, my friend, at times my shrink, and in the end, family.

When I got the phone call that my beloved Pam had passed away on April 16, I felt as if every star in the universe was extinguished. I went into a state of total shock and I remain that way as I write this. Dear God, why did you call Pam home so soon? She had so much left to do here. I just wanted to tell her one more time how much she meant to me.

There are not enough words in the world that could properly do justice to this incredible, vibrant woman who loved her family, friends and animal friends fervently and earnestly. Pam lived her life with passion. She was a proud Sicilian woman with an adventurous spirit and a set of survival skills that would make MacGyver jealous.

She loved to rescue animals, but she was also quite skilled at saving humans. She definitely saved me, more than once. I first entered her newsroom on Green Road 13 years ago to interview for a job reporting community news in West Boca Raton. I was 23 and like most 23 year olds, I thought I knew it all.

I was fresh from the tabloids and Pam warned me that the salary in community news was a far cry from what I was earning slinging gossip stories about J.Lo and Tom Cruise.

I insisted that I wanted to pay my dues as an authentic community news reporter and that the money didn’t matter as long as I was doing something I felt was meaningful. It was the smartest and most rewarding career move I ever made.

Over the 13 years we worked together, Pam allowed me a variety of opportunities to spread my creative wings and really grow as a writer. With her, my “Life In The Fab Lane” column was born. I later edited Boca Piquant magazine, launched a city edition of that publication, created my own beauty magazine and got to contribute to the sassy, feminist-geared publication Queen B as well as South Florida Parenting magazine.

She encouraged me to write more hard-hitting investigative pieces on subjects such as Scientology and the changing face of the American family and she inspired me to really focus on issues in the community. When raises couldn’t be given, she raised our spirits. Working for her brought me a sense of pride and joy money could never buy.

At first, I resisted writing these more involved investigative pieces, but then I realized Pam always had my best interests in mind and she wanted me to get out of my comfort zone as a writer. It was scary, but necessary.

Ironically enough, I came full circle with my love for community news this Christmas when my role as a reporter shifted from entertainment back to being a community reporter in Delray Beach. For the first time in several years, I felt like I was doing what I was meant to do and I owe it all to Pam.

Pam was the sort of boss who was very fair and allowed you to grow in your position, yet she treated you as an equal. There was always mutual respect and at the very heart of everything she did, she encouraged authenticity—to be true to yourself and the true mission of journalism.

Every time I wanted to give up, Pam reminded me why I became a journalist in the first place. She had a love for journalism that was infinite. That was something I deeply admired. She talked me out of quitting journalism three times. Her advice always resonated with me.

Pam loved peace, her partner Jen, debating politics, rocking out to Led Zeppelin, especially John Bonham, Heart and The B-52s and the great outdoors. She fought for what she believed in and she worked relentlessly to save as many people as she could in her newsroom from the inevitable lay offs. Those lay offs took a toll on her heart and soul. She truly cared about everyone who worked for her. And that is something you just don’t see anymore in a corporate environment.

I don’t want to imagine the world without Pam in it. It’s just a bunch of boring blank pages. She filled our lives and our papers with something extraordinary.

This past Christmas, Pam gave me a beautiful crystal angel as a Christmas gift. I adored it the moment I opened it but I didn’t quite understand the gift until now. I always called Pam my angel. She saved my butt more times than I can count and I learned a lifetime of lessons from her. She will forever be my angel, now watching over all of us from above.

I would do anything to be able to walk into her office again and grab a little piece of wisdom and see her smile. I would always stop into her office with Kari Barnett to catch up at the end of the work day. I always looked forward to our conversations about cats, handbags, L. Ron Hubbard, office shenanigans and whatever crazy nonsense was going on in our own lives. When her door was open, so was her heart and she always took time to listen. She made us feel appreciated and we always went the extra mile for her because Pam was worth it.

So rest now, my beautiful angel. Thank you for bringing me hope when I was hopeless. Thank you for all you did over the years to keep our ship afloat. From time to time, send us a sign as you’re watching over us from above. Give a kiss to Shani McManus and my grandpa for me. I know Shani is probably already giving you a hard time for getting up there so soon. FPG may be a community news company, but in my heart, it will always stand for “Forever Pam’s Group.” Man, do I wish heaven had visiting hours. I can only imagine the concert Pam’s having up there right now with Bonham and the boys.

If you are missing Pam too and would like to do something special to honor her memory, be kinder to each other and the planet. Rescue an animal in her name. Do something bold and adventurous outdoors and respect nature. Cherish this very moment. Be true to yourself. And always…follow your heart. I know she would’ve wanted that.

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Bold gold rings, necklaces and bomber jackets rule the runway this spring season with Ken Downing at Neiman Marcus

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Ken Downing is not a minimalist. It’s an art form he says he learned from his mother. The fashion director and senior vice president of Neiman Marcus came to the Neiman Marcus store in Boca Raton April 6 to share the spring trends with some of South Florida’s most fashionable women.

“More is more and less is a bore!” Downing proclaimed at the begining of his runway show that featured opulent fashions for both men and women.

“Ladies, go home and take every ring out of your jewelry box and put them on,” Downing declared. “Diamond rings and colored gem stones are a big look now.”

While Downing pointed out other essential spring trends such as lace, the cold shoulder baring look and embellished shoes worn for day time, one of the more intriguing looks is a gender-bending thing that’s happening now. Blouses for boys, bomber jackets for girls—it’s an anything goes sort of vibe at the moment.

“I love what’s happening with men’s fashion right now,” Downing said, as a male model made his way down the runway sporting a Chanel blouse, broach and navy blue blazer. “Women and men are borrowing each others clothes. Men are carrying these gorgeous, detailed Gucci gym bags.”

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My favorite look of the show was a bright orange Stella McCartney gown paired with costume chandelier earrings and a gold, sparkly clutch. The off the shoulder gown was stunning and wearable.

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Downing said chokers will be an important look this fall season and in addition to bomber jackets and blazers making a comeback, there will continue to be a ’70s inspired vibe. This spring, cat eye sunglasses by Fendi and the color red continue to make bold and very current wardrobe statements.

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To read more about Downing’s fashion ideas, visit Blog.neimanmarcus.com.facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Rod Stafford Hagwood steals the spotlight at Broadway Buzz event at Broward Center

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If you want to bring some sassy, classy magic to an event, Rod Stafford Hagwood is the perfect man for the job. The celebrated fashion columnist, foodie and brightest and best dressed star at the Sun Sentinel hosted a whimsical sneak peek of the 2016/2017 Broadway in Fort Lauderdale show season. Broward Center for the Performing Arts subscribers and theater enthusiasts packed the playhouse April 4 to sip some special Broadway-inspired cocktails such as Trunchbull Punch and The Glass Slipper and take in a few surprise performances from upcoming shows including “Cabaret,” “Finding Neverland” and “Something Rotten!” Several performers also participated in informative, yet very entertaining Q&As with Hagwood.

I grew up seeing plays at Burt Reynold’s Jupiter Theatre in the ’80s. As a little girl who battled bullying and other woes, musical theater was and remains my comforting escape from the real world. As a child, some of the greatest Broadway musicals unfolded before my eyes including “Phantom of The Opera,” “Anything Goes,” “Man of La Mancha” and it has brought me the greatest joy to continue to see shows with my loved ones now at Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

I personally cannot wait to see “Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage” this month. I had the pleasure of interviewing the talented Margot White, who portrays Baby’s mother in the touring production of the show.

I am also excited to see “Beautiful,” “Something Rotten!” and “Finding Neverland.”

With several of the shows coming to Broward Center still on Broadway in New York City, it amazes me how culturally blessed we are in South Florida that such top notch entertainment travels to us.

Thank you Rod Stafford Hagwood for sharing your love for the theater through your wonderful writing. Nothing makes me happier than seeing new generations singing along to Broadway scores and using the bright lights of Broadway to brighten all of our lives.

Check out the upcoming season coming to Broward Center for the Performing Arts here:

“Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” December 13 – 25, 2016

“Cabaret” January 10 – 22, 2017

“The Little Mermaid” February 22 – March 5, 2017

“Something Rotten!” March 21 – April 2, 2017

“Matilda The Musical” April 25 – May 7, 2017

“Finding Neverland” June 13 – 25, 2017

Visit BroadwayInFortLauderdale.com for details on purchasing tickets to current and upcoming shows.
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Why I, a straight woman, bought Caitlyn Jenner’s lipstick

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Caitlyn Jenner left the world in shock and awe when she came out looking fierce and fearless on the cover of Vanity Fair. She received both praise and criticism, idolatry and mockery. Jenner forged on. Whether you like Jenner or not, she’s not going anywhere and I’m thankful for that.

About 41 percent of transgender and gender nonconforming people have attempted suicide, according to Motherjones.com. Poverty continues to be a major problem in the trans community. Many transgender people who enter a homeless shelter are sexually assaulted, if they aren’t turned away all together. An Injustice at Every Turn survey found that 25 percent of transgender employees lost a job because they didn’t conform to gender norms and around 90 percent said they faced transgender-based discrimination. Life as a transgender person is not an easy road to take. We must proceed with compassion and open our hearts and minds to this group of people who at the end of the day are just that—people. 

Caitlyn’s lipstick came out in MAC stores and on Maccosmetics.com today, April 7. The lipstick is called “Finally Free” and it’s a lovely, liberating shade of rosy nude that will look lovely on ALL skin tones. The lipstick retails for $17 and 100 percent of the selling price will go to the MAC Aids Fund Transgender Initiative. The lipstick can be purchased at MAC stores and on Maccosmetics.com.

I love this lipstick because it spreads the message that we are all beautiful. We all matter and we all deserve a chance. Caitlyn is selling so much more than a lipstick. She’s selling hope and I hope men and women will take a closer look at what she’s saying. Now go break the internet like your daughters, darling. This lipstick is hot!facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Kendall + Kylie spring collection hits Neiman Marcus stores today

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I’m not a big Kardashian fan, but there is something undeniable about the fashion forward style of the youngest siblings, Kendall and Kylie Jenner. The sisters just launched an #OnlyatNM collection of clothing and accessories that are sophisticated, detailed and most importantly different than many other celebrity clothing lines.

“The collection is sophisticated, clean and beautifully tailored,” Kendall stated in a press release. “We wanted to widen our range of customers by introducing a more premium clothing line. We incorporated a lot of sophisticated and versatile pieces that were simple yet chic.”

From a black and white gingham halter top and cropped trouser set to waist tie silk skirts, unexpected denim pieces and off the shoulder dresses, Kendall + Kylie is a solid collection for the trend-conscious consumer. There are also several eye-catching shoe designs in the collection including strappy cutout heels and a pair of fringy flat sandals I couldn’t resist. At 5-foot-11, I’m always on the hunt for flats that don’t make me feel like a grandmother. Kendall + Kylie’s Tessa Fringe Suede Sandals in black are a fashionable find for $125. And they came in a size 11 to make my big feet happy! The sandals are extremely well made offering a plush, padded in-sole and a buttery, soft suede exterior. I very much wanted to own some part of the collection and this footwear was the perfect option since I was unsure of what size I might take in the clothing purchasing it online.

Although the collection was available in an advance sale to Neiman Marcus customers, it’s now available on Neimanmarcus.com and at Neiman Marcus stores beginning April 7.

From lace to the cold shoulder trend, the Jenner girls have demonstrated they have a true sense of fabrics and feminine style for not just a teenage following, but for a variety of style-savvy women. As a bonus, customers spending $500 or more on select women’s apparel and accessories will score a pair of Kendall + Kylie sunglasses.

To shop the entire collection, visit Neimanmarcus.com/KendallandKylieSnap up a piece of this collection before Kendall + Kylie break the internet.

 

 

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Remembering my dear friend and fellow reporter, Shani McManus

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It was an ordinary deadline day for me on March 8, until I received an email from my editor Pam that our beloved Shani McManus had lost her battle with lung cancer and died. Shani was a veteran reporter with a career spanning more than three decades in journalism. She began her career in 1969 writing for the East Side News in New York, but she was fondly known around South Florida as a top reporter for The Jewish Journal.

Shani interviewed Barack Obama, Joe Biden and John McCain in 2008. I remember seeing her photo with Biden after her interview and I could not wait to get her firsthand account of what it was like meeting him. “I ripped into him just like anybody else,” Shani laughed, with her signature, hearty Shani-cackle. “These guys are running for the top spots in America. I have to ask them the tough questions.”

Whether Shani was sitting down for a one-on-one interview with Biden, paying tribute to Leonard Nimoy or bringing awareness to important issues such as breast cancer and anti-semitism, Shani was always honest, informative and real. There was a lovable and at times, even enviable, authenticity to her. I have fond memories of Shani bopping around our now defunct Green Road newsroom in her blue Jewish Journal baseball cap. She would stand on the staircase outside the back of the office puffing cigarettes during our lunch break and spewing wisdom. I miss our talks about relationships, kids, politics and our careers. When I had my son, she told me how lucky I was to have him and how much she loved her own son. She was passionate about journalism and told stories in a way only she could tell them.

We had a terrible health scare not so long ago where Shani suffered a collapsed lung. We thought we had lost her then but she bounced back and continued working, despite the pleas of many urging her to slow down. That was just it. An effervescent spirit like Shani’s cannot be thwarted or extinguished. Shani did things Shani’s way. She lived life on her own terms. I will miss her beautiful smile, her contagious laugh and her no-nonsense personality. Fly free now, my feisty friend.  A light will forever be dimmed in our newsroom since your passing, but I know you are now the brightest star shining over us from heaven.

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Kinky Boots proves you can change the world when you change your mind

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There is nothing more exhilarating than a night out at the theater that involves a passionate tale of triumph in the face of adversity and a wickedly high pair of heeled boots that is kicking down stereotypes about gender one show at a time.

Kinky Boots, a musical based on a book by Harvey Fierstein with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, doesn’t miss a step when it comes to telling the story of floundering British shoemaker Charlie Price and the fabulous Lola, a man who transforms into even more of a  glam goddess through the magic of Price’s stunning, bedazzled boots. The unlikely duo ends up having much in common as they both attempt to emerge from the shadows of what their fathers had planned for their lives.

Tom Souhrada and J. Harrison Ghee shine as the stars of this while plenty of supporting characters such as George, played by my favorite Hollywood Square Jim J. Bullock also add to the depth of the show. The music from this show has the pop-rock thumbprint of Lauper and also includes the deeper message of acceptance that many of Lauper’s songs convey.

My favorite part of this show was watching the audience around me smiling, whistling and clapping to the beat while absorbing the message “Just be who you wanna be!”

Kinky Boots is playing at Broward Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday March 13. The show then travels two Fort Meyers and Naples. Kinky Boots will then return to South Florida next year. In 2017, the show will appear April 18-23 at Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach.

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South Florida audiences can soar with Toruk—The First Flight

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Toruk—The First Flight swept into BB&T Center March 3-6 and now this innovative new show is at American Airlines Arena March 10-13. Inspired by James Cameron’s “Avatar,” Toruk is a breathtaking prequel to Cameron’s film. Fueled by the magic of Cirque du Soleil, Pandora comes to life with a Na’vi narrator. Two Omaticaya boys must set out on a dangerous quest to save the Tree of Souls. The audience gets to travel with the boys into the iconic Floating Mountains and across impossible rivers and terrains as they encounter creatures and enemies on air, sea and land. 

Audience members with smart phones can really get in on the action of Toruk by downloading the Toruk—The First Flight app. The app kicks off the show by allowing downloaders to play with the fireflies in Pandora by touching their phone screens. Then, there are hidden effects showgoers can unlock during the intermission and before and after the first and second act of the show. This is a show that will appeal to adults as well as children and would make a great family outing or a fantastic date night.

The First Flight is now playing at the American Airlines Arena on March 10-13, 2016. Purchase tickets at Cirquedusoleil.com/toruk.

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