Wednesday, February 7, 2018

‘Puccini’s Madama Butterfly’ in JAX for an evening

Puccini’s famous opera, Madama Butterfly will be coming to Jacksonville’s Times-Union Center, for one performance only.

“Pucciniʼs Madama Butterfly” follows Pinkerton, an American naval captain who is exploring the World in the name of pleasure.  “Life is not worth living if I can’t win the best and fairest of each country,” he declares.  He sets his sights on the best and fairest of this land: the stunning Japanese beauty Cio-Cio-San. Pinkerton is fascinated by her exotic beauty and marries her on sight, while Cio-Cio-San, enthralled by his American ways and promise of a modern life in America, falls wholeheartedly in love with the stranger. But Pinkerton already has a foot out the door, looking forward to the day he will marry “a real wife, a wife from America.”

Three years pass, and Cio-Cio-San waits faithfully for her husband’s return from distant shores. Long abandoned by her family, she is alone with her servant Suzuki and a living memento of her American love. She refuses all offers of marriage, singing of her great hope for the day Pinkerton will return. The faithful Suzuki tries in vain to convince her to abandon hope. But when his ship comes in, Pinkerton is not alone. As dawn breaks, what will become of Butterfly’s great hope?

“Puccini’s Madama Butterfly”
DATE: February 16, 2018
TIME: 8 p.m.

LOCATION: Times Union Center Performing Arts
      Moran Theater
300 West Water St
      Jacksonville, FL 32202

TICKETS:  start at $18 for children and $33.75 for adults, plus applicable fees.  They may be purchased at the box office, and may be purchased online 24/7 at FSCJ Artist Series, sponsored by Chase (the official presenter of the Jacksonville show), or by calling (904) 632-5000 between 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

‘Elton John’ farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in JAX 2019

“It’s time to come off the road so I can fully embrace the next important chapter of my life.” - Elton John

After more than half a century on the road and an unparalleled career that has redefined the cultural landscape and seen Elton John claim his place as a true global icon, the superstar today announced via an exclusive VR180 live stream on YouTube, details of his final tour called ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’.

Kicking off in the U.S. on September 8, 2018, the ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ tour will consist of more than 300 shows across five continents, hitting North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australasia before reaching its conclusion in 2021.  These dates mark the superstar’s last-ever tour, the end of half a century on the road for one of pop culture’s most enduring performers. Elton’s new stage production will take his fans on a musical and highly visual journey spanning a 50-year career of hits like no one has ever seen before.

“Performing live fuels me and I’m ecstatic and humbled to continue to play to audiences across the globe,” said Elton
. “I plan to bring the passion and creativity that has entertained my fans for decades to my final tour. After the tour finishes, I’m very much looking forward to closing off that chapter of my life by saying farewell to life on the road. I need to dedicate more time to raising my children.”

About Elton John: Elton’s career achievements to date are unsurpassed in their breadth and longevity. Elton is one of the top-selling solo artists of all time, with 38 gold records and 31 platinum and multi-platinum albums, over 50 Top 40 hits, and he has sold more than 300 million records worldwide. He holds the record for the biggest-selling single of all time, “Candle in the Wind 1997,” which sold over 33 million copies. ‘Diamonds’ the Ultimate Greatest Hits album, reached the Top 5 of the UK album charts on its release in November 2017, becoming Elton’s 40th UK Top 40 album in the process, reaching Gold status before the end of the year.  He has also written the music for stage and screen successes Billy Elliot: The Musical, Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, and The Lion King, which was named the highest-grossing stage show or film release in the world.

Sir Elton John
Farewell Yellow Brick Rd. Tour

DATE: Fri. March 15, 2019

LOCATION: JAX Veterans Memorial Arena
      300 A Philip Randolph Blvd.
      Jacksonville, FL 32202
      (904) 630-3900

TICKETS: range from $56.84 $221.84 (+ additional fees) and may be purchased though American Express pre-sale Thurs. Feb. 8 at 10am to Mon. Feb. 12 at 10pm.  Ticketmaster verified fan pre-sale Tues. Feb. 13 at 10am to Wed. Feb. 14 at 10pm.  Public sales begin Fri. Feb. 16 at 10am.  Tickets and VIP packages can be purchased on Elton’s website.  Tickets are also available at the Veterans Box Office, or (800) 745-3000.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

I'm A Star Foundation hosts forum and college fair

I’m A Star Foundation is hosting a Family Empowerment Forum & College Fair, in partnership with DCPS, to prepare a group of 7th graders and their parents for the future.  The event will be held Thursday, February 8, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Ribault High School, 3701 Winton Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32208. The event is not open to the public.

Attendees will experience a pep rally, parent empowerment forum, and meet representatives and alumni from the following colleges and universities: Alabama A&M University; Edward Waters College; Florida A&M University; Florida Memorial University; Florida State College at Jacksonville; Florida State University; Savannah State University; University of Florida; University of North Florida.

In partnership with Duval County Public Schools, funded by a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant, I’m A Star will follow a group of 7th graders through their first year of college.  GEAR UP is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

I’m A Star Foundation will mentor a cohort of 7th graders once every two weeks and provide parenting empowerment forums two times a month. The non-profit organization will work with the same students for 7 years, in an effort to ensure their academic success and college readiness.

The agenda for the Family Empowerment Conference College Fair is as follows:
6:00 p.m. - 6:45 p.m.: College Fair.
6:45 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.: Parent Empowerment Forum: How to help children stay the course and enter college over the next 7 years.
7:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.: EWC Drumline, UNF Step Group, EWC Chorus, Greek Organization Step Show.

About I’m A Star Foundation:
I’m A Star Foundation is a volunteer program that transforms middle and high school students into the next generation of servant leaders. An acronym for “Smart, Talented And Resilient” students, the Foundation draws kids ages 12-18 from schools across Duval County. Students meet on weekends to creatively co-work on solutions to problems affecting their peers. Since its establishment in 2010, the organization has maintained a 100% graduation rate. Founder and Executive Director Betty Seabrook Burney is a former Duval Co. School Board Chairwoman who achieved the distinction of having all chronically low-performing schools exit the state of Florida’s intervene list by the end of her term.  I’m A Star Foundation students have been featured in various press outlets, including: Florida Times-Union, ABC7Chicago and The Huffington Post.

Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens partners with Bold City Brewery

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is excited to announce a partnership with Bold City Brewery and the launch of an exciting new brew: Avant Gardener.  After Hurricane Irma, Kevin Miller with Bold City Brewery approached Museum staff to see if there was anything they could do to help.  From this conversation Avant Gardener was born.  The brewers and staff got to work to come up with a concept for the beer that would highlight something specific about the Cummer Gardens.  The Cummer Oak was, of course, the first thing to come to mind, soon followed by the abundance of roses throughout the gardens.

From this, brewer Alex Johnson came up with a flavor concept and unique recipe created especially for the Cummer Gardens.  “I am honored to be able to work with the Cummer Museum on such an exciting project,” states Johnson. “I went to the Museum a lot as a kid. It is such a great part of the community, and I love that we get to be part of the reconstruction process.”  In addition to the great work being done at Bold City Brewery, local artist Jim Draper has donated the use of his artwork to be used alongside the new brew. Draper’s image is a serigraph print of a rose found in the Cummer Gardens.

The new brew is a Belgian wheat with hints of rose petal, rose hips, and oak chips.  The cherished Cummer Oak, one of the oldest trees in Jacksonville, makes a guest appearance in this recipe.  It is described as floral, savory, and cloudy, but not hoppy.

Help the Cummer Museum celebrate the launch of this one-of-a-kind beer at the Bold City Tap Room, located at 109 E. Bay Street in Downtown Jacksonville, where the beer will be on tap beginning February 7, 2018.  Avant Gardener will only be available for a limited time, so get it while you can.  A portion of the beer sales will go directly to the Garden Reconstruction Fund at the Museum, which makes this beer a bona fide act of benevolence.  So, do a good deed and drink some beer!
Garden Damage from Hurricane Irma
The historic Cummer Gardens were severely impacted by Hurricane Irma and will be closed to the public until the reconstruction effort can be complete.  The lower tier of all three formal garden spaces, which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, remained submerged for more than 24 hours, resulting in the uprooting of plants, detached railing along the river, broken lighting, pervasive salinization of the soil, large amounts of debris, and significant impact to much of the physical infrastructure, including drainage, electric, fencing, and the well that services the landscape.

Museum leadership is
working with professionals from many sectors to properly assess the situation and create a strategy and timeline to reconstruct the gardens.  Additionally, staff is working with colleagues at other historic gardens to ensure that best practices are utilized throughout the reconstruction effort.  Members of the community may
donate directly to the Garden Reconstruction Fund.

Monday, February 5, 2018

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ feeds Audrey at the Alhambra Theatre and Dining

If your Valentine’s Day date isn’t going as planned, you can always feed him or her to Audrey II, the giant man-eating plant who stars as the main attraction in the Alhambra’s upcoming production of the Broadway smash, “Little Shop of Horrors”.  Little Shop opens Valentine’s Day, February 14 (but Audrey II will be gleefully eating her prey through March 25).

About “Little Shop of Horrors”: Seymour, a meek floral assistant, discovers a talking, singing plant he names, Audrey II, after his co-worker crush, Audrey. This sassy, R&B-singing plant promises unending fame and fortune as long as Seymour keeps feeding Audrey II her special diet.  Over time, Seymour discovers the plant’s secret plans for taking over the word. 
The musical is based on the 1960 film The Little Shop of Horrors, and includes several well-known tunes, including: the title song, "Skid Row (Downtown)," "Somewhere That's Green," and "Suddenly, Seymour.”

Little Shop of Horrors opened Off-Broadway at the Orpheum Theatre in Manhattan's East Village on July 27, 1982 and ran for 5 years and 2,209 performances.  It was the third-longest running musical and the highest-grossing production in Off-Broadway history.  The critically-acclaimed production won several awards including the 1982–1983 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, and the Outer Critics Circle Award.

A London
West End production ran for 813 performances and received the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical.  
The show made its Broadway debut at the Virginia Theatre in 2003, and was nominated for several Tony® Awards.  Little Shop had several national tours, and was made into a movie based on the show in 1986 which starred Rick Moranis as Seymour, Ellen Green as Audrey and Steve Martin as Dr. Orin Scrivello, DDS.

About the Alhambra’s Performance:
The Alhambra will feature a live-action, mechanical puppet for Audrey II.  The Alhambra’s Audrey II is said to be the largest version of any in the region.  Luke Holt and Victoria Miller will co-pilot Audrey II.  With music in the style of early 1960s
rock-and-roll, doo-wop and early Motown, Sarah Sanders, known locally as Mama Blue, will play “Crystal,” with Linzy Lauren as “Chiffon” and Meka King as “Ronnette.”

Audrey’s Menu was created by Executive Chef DeJuan Roy and will feature a 3 course delight.  First Course: (Choice of One) Seymour’s Salad spinach and watercress salad, tomato, carrots, raisins, walnut vinaigrette *GF* Or, Wild Mushroom & Barley Soup.
Second Course: (Choice of One) Lamb Ossobuco farro risotto, roasted Brussels sprouts, Or Garlic Parmesan-Roasted Chicken Breast, jasmine rice, broccolini, roasted tomato *GF*. Or Sausage & Shrimp Jambalaya, Or Vegetable En Croûte over lentil stew.
Third Course: (Choice of One) Mango Pie, Or Triple Chocolate Cake.
*Menu subject to change. Gluten-free & sugar-free desserts are available upon request.

Little Shop of Horrors
DATES: February 14 — March 25, 2018

SHOW TIMES: Evening shows Tuesday through Sunday start at 7:50 p.m.  Doors open at 6 p.m., and dinner is served until 7:30 p.m.  Saturday Matinees begin at 1:15 p.m.  Doors open at 11 a.m. and the brunch served until 12:50 p.m.  Sunday Matinees are at 1:50 p.m.  Doors open at 12 p.m. and the meal is server until 1:30 p.m.

DRESS: “Gala Night” (Friday February 16, 2018) attire is “Dressy/Formal/Black Tie”.  All other shows could be “Business Casual” or “Sunday Best”.

TICKETS: Prices range from $38 – $64.  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, professional photos, or orders from the bar**

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