Saturday, July 30, 2016

More people should experience ‘I’m Sick of Church Folk’

It might only be a local play and it had a short run, but “I’m Sick of Church Folk” will be discussed for some time to come.  The dinner show was packed on opening night and the Saturday night program is said to be “sold out”.  If you ever hear of a ‘Rare Diamond’ production, you had better get your tickets right away.  The show and dinner were both tastefully done and well presented.  The actors are very professional and performed in full voice despite some audio difficulties.
Upon entering the Citadel Church, there is a professional photo opportunity for you to capture the memory of your evening out.  You will be captivated by the lovely table settings, the scrumptious meal and the courteous service by young men and women from the church.  The evening of entertainment is well worth the cost and we haven’t mentioned the highlights of the play.  When the church choir came together on Sunday morning to sing, they brought the house down with their harmony.

“I’m Sick of Church Folk” is backed up by a three-piece band (Tony White, Edward Robinson Jr. Cory Canady & Detwaun Diamond) who did a fantastic job throughout the four-hour evening (cue the ‘Young & the Restless’ music).  Director Angela Roberts kept the crowd engaged so that the show would continue smoothly.  There is a lot of humor throughout the production, nonetheless, writers Toni Diamond-Bingham and Kanesha Mitchell give the audience a lot to think about, especially if you attend a church somewhere.  Some memorable lines from the evening were: “Hell isn’t a bad word - it’s a condition,” “I’m sick of church folk, I got my own problems” and “I’m an unbelieving believer.”

Towards the end, the Pastor of the church (the name is hilarious) had to explain how people need to stop being ‘church folk’ and stop going to other people to get a Word from God.  She had to give a strong reprimand to those parishioners who were trying to lead the flock astray.  She reminded them that the church is for imperfect people, yet it’s up to every man and woman to make a change in their lives for the better.  Everything happens in our lives - happens for a reason.  Stop focusing on people and focus on God.  Love conquers all!

There were also musical selections from singers: “AV Musiq” and “Just Sabrina Ministry” right before the play, that got the audience prepared for a most enjoyable evening.  If you are fortunate enough to have a ticket for “I’m Sick of Church Folk”, the last show on Saturday starts promptly at 6 p.m. when dinner is eloquently served.  Don’t forget that a gratuity is always appreciated by the servers even if it is not mandatory.  It’s a blessing to be a blessing.  Enjoy your evening!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Surgeon General declares JAX teen challenge a model for the nation

Originally posted on Examiner: May 27, 2016
In December 2015, they visited Washington, D.C. and met with current
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy to pitch their call-to-action plan. Impressed with the proposal, Dr. Murthy visited Jacksonville to help the students introduce #FitOverFatUSA to the community.  Dr. Murthy says Jacksonville can be a model of health for the nation.  He adds, “It depends on how everyone pulls together, including students and parents and elected leaders and business leaders to help do their part to make sure we are creating an environment that promotes health.”

About “I’m A Star Foundation”: The foundation provides an outlet for students (ages 11-18) to develop solutions and strategies to help their peers (and their families) overcome negative statistics and barriers and unleash their inner greatness.  “I’m A Star Foundation” Executive Director
Betty Seabrook Burney is a former Duval County School Board member who joined the Duval County School Board in November 2004 and held the distinction of serving as a two-time Board Chairman (2006 and 2011) and a two-time Vice Chairman (2005 and 2010). At the end of her term as School Board Chairman, Duval County achieved the distinction of having all chronically low performing schools exit the state of Florida’s intervene list.  (Take a look at the video above, and see for yourself).

Burney serves as a consultant for the Center for Reform of School Systems where she works with School Boards and Superintendents to provide technical assistance on governance strategies and practices designed to impact student achievement and to narrow the academic achievement gap.  
Her expertise has been shared with the following school districts:
Houston Independent School District
Corsicana Independent School District (Corsicana, TX)
Tyler Independent School District (Tyler, TX)
Prince Georges County School District (Prince Georges, MD)
Richmond School District (Richmond, VA)
Syracuse County School District (Syracuse, NY)
Memphis School District (Memphis, TN)
Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (Charlotte, NC)
New Orleans Parish School District (New Orleans, LA)

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Alhambra Theatre and Dining welcomes ‘Smokey Joe's Café’

Finally, the acclaimed Broadway hit, “Smokey Joe's Café”, will be in JAX at the fabulous Alhambra Theater and Dining.  Nominated for eight Tony® Awards, Smokey Joe's Café is a musical revue highlighting well-known rock & roll, and rhythm & blues songs made popular in the 1950's, 60's and 70's, were composed by songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.  The original Broadway cast recording won a Grammy Award in 1996.  After a Los Angeles tryout, the revue opened on Broadway in 1995, running for 2,036 performances, making it the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history.  It also had a London run in 1996.

Showcasing 39 hit songs in a revue format (with no dialogue), “Smokey Joe's Café was conceived by Stephen Helper, Jack Viertel, and Otis Sallid.  The musical had its world premiere at the Doolittle Theatre in Los Angeles, where it ran from November 1994 to January 22, 1995.  The revue opened on Broadway on March 2, 1995 at the Virginia Theatre, and closed on January 16, 2000 after 2,036 performances.  Directed by Jerry Zaks with choreography by Joey McKneely, the nine person cast featured Ken Ard, Adrian Bailey, Brenda Braxton, Victor Trent Cook, B. J. Crosby, Pattie D'Arcy Jones, DeLee Lively, Frederick B. Owens, and Michael Park.  Throughout its run, there were special appearances by many popular singers, including: Ben E. King, Pam Tillis, Gladys Knight, Tony Orlando, Lou Rawls, Gloria Gaynor and Rick Springfield.

"People may not know the names Leiber and Stoller, but when the curtain goes up they're going to know the songs.  With hits like "Dance With Me," "Fools Fall In Love," "On Broadway," and "Stand by Me," we are expecting singing and dancing in the aisles.  This will be a light and fun summer show," — Alhambra Managing Partner, Craig Smith.

The Menu for Smokey Joe's Caf
Executive Chef DeJuan Roy creates a new menu at the Alhambra for every show. This time his creativity is based on the themes he found in the scripts.  For Smokey Joe's Café, Chef Roy chose a unique menu of - First Course: a choice of watermelon and yellow tomato gazpacho; or chopped house salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, cheddar cheese, croutons and French dressing.  Second Course: a choice of ‘fruits de mer’ (Fruit of the Sea, assorted seafood) served over fettuccine Alfredo with fresh lemon broccolini; or pulled pork with pickles, baked beans, hot water cornbread; or jerk chicken with black beans, yellow rice, fried plantains, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo; or polenta cake with wild mushroom, heirloom tomato, sherry cream, fresh herbs, goat cheese.  The dessert course includes: choice of Hummingbird Cake with pineapple coulis, fresh whipped cream or Key Lime pie with berry compote.  (Menu may be subject to change).

Smoky Joe’s Café
DATES: August 3 – September 4, 2016

SHOW TIMES: Evening shows Tuesday through Sunday start at 8 p.m.  Doors open at 6 p.m., and dinner starts at 6:30 p.m.  Saturday Matinees begin at 1:15 p.m.  Doors open at 11 a.m. and the brunch starts at 11:15 a.m.  Sunday Matinees are at 2 p.m.  Doors open at noon and the meal service starts at 12:15 p.m.

DRESS: “Gala Night” (Friday Aug. 5, 2016) attire is “Formal/Dressy”.  All other shows could be “Business Casual” or “Sunday Best”.

TICKETS: Regular tickets priced from $35 – $62.  Ticket prices include: a plated dinner served to your table, an incredible show and prime parking.  Group sales of 20 + are available upon request.  Price does not include gratuity or orders from the bar. Order your tickets on line or by phone.

LOCATION: Alhambra Theater and Dining
       12000 Beach Blvd.
       Jacksonville, Florida 32246
        (904) 641-1212

LOUIS-AND-ELLA! were hits in JAX, FL

The downtown Jacksonville, Florida’s public library hosted over 250 guests for the Stage Aurora Theatrical Company’s presentation of LOUIS-AND-ELLA! written by Trent Armand Kendall.  There was wonderful harmony from Trent singing as the legendary Louis Armstrong, and from Natasha Yvette Williams who emanated the voice of Ella Fitzgerald.  The musical also featured Broadway and Jacksonville’s very own Darryl Reuben Hall, who portrayed Saint Peter at the pearly gates of heaven.  The musical direction and accompaniment of Darius Frowner on the keyboard was phenomenal.  The man played the entire hour and forty-five minutes with a short intermission.

Some of the musical selections of LOUIS-AND-ELLA! included: “Cheek to Cheek,” “Sentimental Journey,” “Our Love is Here to Stay,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Let’s Fall in Love,” “Melody of Love,” “Something to Live For,” “What You Gonna Do,” “Too Marvelous For Words,” “Who’s Got the Last Laugh Now,” “Learin’ the Blues,” “Can’t We Be Friends,” “Home Fire,” “A Tisket, A Tasket,” “Basin Street Blues,” “Skylark,” “ Smile,” “What a Wonderful World,” “Swing Lo Sweet Chariot,” “When the Saints Go Marching In” and a few other popular tunes.

If you weren’t in the theatre to enjoy the audience participation of ‘scatting with ELLA’, you might want to check back on this blog, so you won’t miss another entertainment opportunity.  Next up: “I’m Sick of Church Folk”.