Wednesday, December 30

New Year's Gotta Go List 2010

Well, it is that time of the year again, and when someone finds out where this year has gone, please let me know. I am sure you will remember my dislikes for the un-fun resolutions; stop this, stop that…ugh. Who invented that idea anyway? Let’s continue with my style of resolutions, if you please. I do prefer them.

As a reminder, and for those who were not around for my list last year…instead of making boring, depressing, unpleasant resolutions which we hate and will forget about in a week or
two, we will make fun resolutions which we will look forward to keeping. We will wake up every day wanting to reach our new goals. Sounds better than giving up chocolate or coffee, doesn’t it? If our lives are full of fun and excitement, we won’t crave the bad stuff to fill the void, anyway.

That’s my theory and I’m living it and loving it.

By some weird fate, I realized when I was checking out which items I had accomplished over the past 12 months that I had reached nine of 10 goals. ... off the list I made for you. Not nearly so many off my own list.

So this year, I am combining our lists, since I seem to prefer yours anyway, and keeping some from last year. Ready?

Okay, here is our list of 12 things to do in 2010 (drum roll, please):

1. Take up a hobby we enjoyed when younger, but have stopped for whatever reason.

2. Try a new sport. This can include racing, individual or team sports.

3. Hike through the woods. With so many parks, this will be easy to do.

4. Try an alternate mode of transportation just for fun, maybe take a scenic train ride, snow-mobiling for a day or even a carriage ride around town.

5. Visit a state never before visited. This one will be on the list every year until I visit all 50.

6. Tour a lighthouse. A real one, and take photos of it for proof.

7. Get a passport. This is another I didn’t get to in ’09, but so important it returns.

8. Become acquainted with a different type of music. Rap doesn’t count.

9. Read to a child or an invalid. Everyone likes to be read to, especially when sick or young.

10. Visit a museum. A train, fine art, potato or blue grass museum; any kind works.

11. Grow an herb garden. Nothing fancy, just one or two plants for personal recipes. Chia pets do count.

12. Go on a picnic. Even if it is in your own backyard. Toss down a blanket and go for it.

There is one more that will appear only on my list.

13. Be in the delivery room when my very first grandchild is born in March.

What an exciting year lies before us; new dreams and possibilities, new mistakes to learn from and new memories to be made. Life doesn’t get any better than that, I promise.

If you would like to drop me a note about our fun resolutions, you can e-mail elizabeth@gottago.us. Me, I will be right here, learning to knit baby booties.

--This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Wednesday, December 23

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

Like a runaway, speeding train hurling itself through the night, Sherlock Holmes takes you on a ride which keeps you riveted to the big screen, hanging on for dear life.

Teaming Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes, the intellectual sleuth, Jude Law as his loyal sidekick, Dr. Watson, and Rachel McAdams as Adler, is a winning combination. Rapid-paced, dry humor runs throughout the film, which is set in London’s dark, latter 19th century.

The pursuit of world power leads Lord Blackwood, portrayed coldly by Mark Strong, into the practice of the dark arts. Pursuit of the occult leader leads Holmes, Watson and Adler into the sewers of London.

Loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic book series, Guy Ritchie directed with the clear intention of creating a franchise, including numerous sequels. Downey and Law play off each other brilliantly, creating a co-dependant relationship and showing their weak links and strengths, which keep them together. Sharp-witted and beautifully flawed, the men need each other, manipulating the situation to grow and strengthen themselves and each other.

A solid cast, including the minor roles, and a screenplay written in a fast-paced, modern style, create a movie worthy of seeing a second time. Standing alongside the computer-generated movies out currently, the throwback to an earlier time is refreshing for moviegoers craving fewer futuristic special effects and a stronger, well-written story line.
This razor-sharp view of a young Holmes and Watson gives insight to the detective’s ability to analyze without emotion, with cool logic, and then act upon it with confidence.


Apparently a divorce from pop singer Madonna works for Ritchie, whose latest endeavor seems organized and on target for its audience.

Bottom line: Downey, Law, McAdams – not since Newman, Redford and Ross in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) has there been a trio this perfect.

This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News. Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC, and follow her on Twitter @GottaGo and Facebook. Gotta Go is published in M magazine and the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

Wednesday, December 16

Ultimate gift Guide 2009

It’s that time of year again: snow, carols, crowds and serious decisions. Online or in-store shopping, blue or white bow with the gold wrapping paper, gift cards or actual presents, the spirit starts to wane.

Gifts which are unique will be remembered long after the tinsel is gone and the latest gotta-have-it is tossed to the side. The annual round-up of gifts discovered throughout this year, whether by design, referral or accident, is even tastier than last year. The quality, uniqueness and ease to buy are some of the factors which are looked at carefully before the items make it on this list.

Stocking stuffers can be the favorite gifts this year, if you get the perfect little something tucked between the popcorn balls and candy canes. Finding the trinket to please the recipient, without breaking the piggy bank can be easier than imagined, just by shopping in a non-traditional place. For example, rather than merging with the hundreds of others in the mall, stop in at a local winery for your vino-loving friends and family.

“For stockings and inexpensive small gifts,” described Meredith Easley, Easley Winery, Indianapolis, “you can’t go wrong with wine charms, a charm tree for display or wine bottle stoppers.” Other gift ideas for the wine lover are vacuum sealers, customized wine labels and the deluxe wine-making kit, complete with one free wine class.

For the wine drinker who thinks he has everything, try scooping up some tasty treats from the West Coast. Sacramento Cookie Factory has thin wafer cookies to accent red and white wines. Mocha-Chocolate, Raspberry-Almond and Lemon-Vanilla rearrange taste buds for a distinctive approach to wine. These saucer-size wafers also can be used to create unique desserts.

The chocoholic isn’t forgotten if you remember to order some of Trunnel’s Farm Market’s home-made fudge. Located just outside of Owensboro, the KY Bourbon Chocolate flavor ranks No. 1 on this year’s fudge choice.

Have a sweet lover in the family, who isn’t crazy about chocolate? Try out the hand-made gourmet marshmallows in more than 45 flavors, including Chai Spice and Lemonade, from local Indiana Artisan company 240 Sweet. These fluffy creations are delicious by themselves, making hot chocolate optional.

If traditional shopping isn’t possible, but ordinary gift cards seem too impersonal, purchase a more customized card or membership, without leaving home. Available by telephone or online, gift cards are available for a family membership to the local children’s museum, zoo or even the neighborhood YMCA. Most theater and concert venues will accommodate holiday buying needs whether a single performance or a season subscription is in the budget.

With the economy tightening the Christmas-giving budget this year, creative approaches can be the successful key to a gift which will be remembered long after the egg nog and snow have disappeared.


Guide to Ultimate Gifts

240Sweet
240SWEET.com
California Wine Wafers
sacokfac@pacbell.net
Easley Winery
easleywinery.com
Trunnell’s Farm Market
kevintrunnell@bellsouth.net


This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Wednesday, December 9

Theater Review: Beef and Boards: Christmas 2009

Certainly a holiday show is enjoyable. A tradition looked forward to annually.
However, every once in awhile, the lull of the known is rocked by the unknown and changed forever. You are left with a feeling of disquiet, as if you had been cheated all of this time by not knowing what else was out there.

Such was the moment when opera performer, Chris Dickerson (La Boheme’, Carmen, Il Travatore) took the stage at Beef and Boards, 9301 N. Michigan Road, for the Christmas 2009 show.
The first act’s proffering was as traditional as turkey, stuffing and songs of little towns in Bethlehem. Then, somewhere in the second half of the performance, a changing of the guard took place. An upswing...

A deeply-timbered revolution.

At the helm of this holiday mutiny stood a man, approximately six foot six inches of "I won’t be silenced." Dickerson, whether having an obviously enjoyable time with You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch, or joining in on Sleigh Ride, and Mistletoe and Holly, brought a presence which could not be overlooked or dampened by mere mortals.
Towering above the other members of the cast, Dickerson belted out his solo, Oh Holy Night, basking in the admiration of the audience, which showed its appreciation via howling, yes, I said howling, cheering, foot stamping, and, dare I say it, catcalls? The audience wanted more, much more.

The show could -- and should -- have ended there. The standing ovation due the man was quashed due to the starting too soon, anticlimactic Joy to the World which followed as the finale. There was simply no earthly reason to not allow Dickerson, and the audience, to finish the show basking in that magnificent glass-of-cognac-while-sitting-by-the-fireplace voice.

Resplendent in his self-confidence and adoration of the ‘his-now’ audience, I can recommend only one thing. See him perform while he is in town, because chances are dismally slim he will have room in an already busy schedule to return next year. Talent of this quality rises to the top and travels to much bigger cities rather quickly.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC, and follow her on Twitter @GottaGo and Facebook. Gotta Go is published in M magazine and the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.
Tickets and schedule: BeefandBoards.com

Wednesday, December 2

Gotta Believe: Chickiepoo's

Anyone who has worked in a professional kitchen can tell you good help is hard to find. Four-year-old Isabelle James, better known as Isa, can guarantee it.

However, the world’s tiniest chef has lucked out. Her dad, Chef Lucien Gregor, has volunteered to help her out at Chickiepoo’s, 209 E. Main Street, in the Ohio River city of Madison.

Besides kitchen staff, Isa has an additional obstacle.

Cancer.














Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, also known as A.L.L., to be more specific.

When not in the kitchen with dad, or helping mom, Phoebe James and big sister, five-year-old G.G. (Gibson) in the 14- seat dining area, Isa is undergoing chemotherapy. She and her mother trek two hours north to Indianapolis’ Riley Hospital for Children to receive medical treatment every Monday and Tuesday.

I’d like to tell you this is a sweet bedtime story with a happy ending, but the future is unknown for Isa.

Although there is approximately an 85 percent chance she may live five years after she was diagnosed in January of 2009, statistics after the five-year mark drop dramatically.

With the knowledge the tiny chef could be gone at any time, Eat Here Now! is the restaurant’s motto. Sooner, rather than later, because right here, right now is the only moment you can count on and living fully in each moment is exactly how they live. To be fully connected to every single moment, not distracted by iPods, laptops, televisions or cell phones, and to simply focus on each other is what Chickiepoo’s is all about.

No carryout orders are taken. No reservations are accepted. Cash only.

Eat here now.

Not later. Not without realizing what you are eating, or with whom you are enjoying the
meal.

Now.

In this moment.

Even more than a restaurant, Chickiepoo’s is a dream…and a reality.

When Chef Lucien realized Isa’s dream was to become a chef just like him, his own dream of becoming a corporate chef became unimportant. His new dream was to make sure Isa’s dream became a reality while he still could.

Walking away from a dream career of working for a four star restaurant, James’ new ambition became his family. With a lucrative position in a resort kitchen, he would have had a grueling 80-90 hour week away from his children and wife. He understood that was not enough.

Not enough time. Not enough family.

“I became selfish,” the soft-spoken owner told me. “I wanted every moment with my family I could possibly get.”

With next to nothing in its bank account, the James family devised a sketchy plan on how to remain together for as long as time allowed. By opening their own restaurant, they could keep the girls nearby as much as possible and make Isa’s dream a reality before it was too late.

The girls are able to be with both of their parents on a daily basis, when Isa is not in the hospital.
The success of the bistro is vital to maintaining the flexibility needed for Isa’s treatments, including home-given medicines. Realizing that life is never easy, they try for some sort of normalcy with the children without regret or self-pity.

“If Chickiepoo’s is gone, because people chose to not eat here, they missed that moment,”
said Phoebe. “Just like our Isa. She is here now, but she could be gone in the next moment, so we live in the present. The restaurant parallels our lives.”

The boutique eatery receives the same attention to detail that Isa gives to her drawings, which decorate the walls. She personally tests foods from the kitchen, including her favorite dish, pasta, whether it is spaghetti or noodles.

Chickiepoo’s buys and uses the best quality and freshest produce, dairy and meat from local farmers and townspeople. The menu is derived daily, dependent on what products the 31-pound, fragile cook is able to obtain from her sources.

However, if you like a particular dish and it is on the menu board today, order it quick, because it won’t be available tomorrow, or possibly even the next moment.

Starting the eatery on a shoestring budget, the family is rich in one thing…the ability to believe.

Even with 10 long pages of medicines and their side effects for little Isa, including almost certain sterility and the possibility of new types of cancer from the very treatments given to save her young life, the family still believes in the positives.

"When nothing worse could possibly happen, then you stay positive, because anything that isn’t bad is a positive,” explained Phoebe James. “If she isn’t dead, then that is the positive. If she’s alive and feeling ill, it’s still a positive, because it gives us another day, another moment. There is only positive.”

And yes, you guessed it, the bistro is named for Isa, whose nickname is Chickiepoo.

If you know of a heartwarming story you would like me to discover and share, send an e-mail to elizabeth@gottago.us. Me, I will be right here, remembering all the reasons we’ve gotta believe...

Chickiepoo’s
209 W. Main Street
Madison, Indiana

~ Hours of Operation ~
Thursday, Friday
and Saturday
Breakfast, Lunch
and Dinner
Sunday
Lunch and Dinner
chickiepoo.wordpress.com
chickiepoos@gmail.com

--This post was originally published under "Gotta Believe" in West Side Community News and the West Indianapolis Community News in Indianapolis.

*Photos by EJMusgrave

IRT: A Christmas Carol

This time of year welcomes many venues to produce holiday shows. I was fortunate this weekend to catch a new-to-me one and one of my annual musts.

The Phoenix Theatre, 749 N. Park Avenue, is serving up its fourth helping of holiday cheer in A Very Phoenix Xmas. A two-act menagerie of skits, with behind-the-scenes snippets during stage changes, took a fun poke at the holidays without being offensive.

There were many regulars, creating a warm sense of camaraderie with the actors and audience. The sidesplitting interaction between Sara Rieman (Shipwrecked) and Michael Shelton (The Pillowman) in the opening segment, Happy Hannu-Clog, is worth the ticket price alone.
A man with a shoe obsession, no relation to me, and his wife who attempts to explain how unnatural it is for a guy to go gaga over boots is an unadulterated delight.

Another standout piece finds Shelton and Rieman pairing up once more in The Forty-three Second Kiss, giving a glimpse into what happens after the office Christmas party.
Shelton and Amanda Lynn Meyer team up nicely in Death of a Snowman, a poignant moment
between a girl who has lost her mother and her snowman, who explains the circle of life in the coolest way possible.

To balance out the new, I went to, where else but, IRT for my annual dose of A Christmas Carol. Never tiring of the tale of why one should be kind and caring, IRT’s scaled-down, non-glamorous take continues to rank No. 1 in my book.

Turning in a solid performance is Mark Goetzinger as Marley’s Ghost, a role which, with Goetzinger, would definitely enhance the show with extended stage time and interaction with Scrooge.

David Alan Anderson’s portrayal as the Ghost of Christmas Present felt restrained, and I am unsure why the reins were held tight on this actor. The potential could well have been met if Anderson had been allowed to fulfill the enthusiasm of the character’s love of life’s joys and happiness.

The ritual of Christmas would be incomplete without Charles (Chuck) Goad at the helm of the cast as Ebenezer Scrooge. I asked the performer exactly what it meant to him to transform himself into Scrooge and, in turn, also become an annual tradition to holiday theatre-goers for the past 11 years. He replied that it is his dream role.

“It’s a great part because it has a unique emotional arc—the journey that Scrooge takes through misery and pain to love and joy is incredible,” he said. “I’m able to measure my progress as an actor in the part by continually looking for different and better ways than I’ve done it before. “In a way, doing A Christmas Carol is like being at the Fezziwig party. You can’t help but have fun. and fun is contagious.
Something happens in a theater under the right conditions that can’t happen anywhere else. A group of people come together and agree to empathize and to be moved by other human beings. That’s the tradition not just of A Christmas Carol or the IRT; it’s the tradition of theater. I’m honored to help pass that on.”

That philosophy explains why every year, instead of becoming stale and uninspiring, the performance seems to have aged…like a fine wine.

If you have an event or performance you would like reviewed, please contact me via e-mail at commnews@inmotion. net. Me, I will be right here, with my figgy pudding... whatever that is.

--This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in West Indianapolis Community News and West Side Community News in Indianapolis.

Tuesday, November 24

Theater Review: Broadway Across America: Chicago

B r o a d w a y Across America’s Chicago razzle-dazzled its way into Indianapolis this weekend. Set in Chicago’s late 1920s, the story revolves around murderesses and the celebrity status bestowed upon them via the media.

Tom Wopat portrayed Billy Flynn, the slick-talking attorney who cares only about love…and money.

Bianca Marroquin, as Roxie Hart, stood out, giving a little something extra, with her best musical performance in Me and My Baby.

Terra C. MacLeod brought energy to the stage as Velma Kelly, with her best vocals and dancing during When Velma Takes a Stand

Tom Riis Farrell in the role of Roxie’s husband Amos Hart, brought the audience into the “aah factor” zone. Creating the aah factor is not an easy feat, however Farrell drew sympathy from the women and empathy from the men in the audience, particularly during Mister Cellophane.

D. Micciche, as newspaper reporter Mary Sunshine, surprised the audience by revealing she was, in fact, portrayed by a man. Although it is traditional for a male performer to portray the role, it is always pleasant to see reactions when the surprise is revealed. Adding in his flamboyant energy, the thought was entertained heavily on Micciche’s being more well-suited for the role of Billy Flynn than Wopat, who seemed to lack the devil-may-care attitude and energy required for the flashy lawyer role.

Bottom Line: The snappy, jazzy pace makes Chicago a great choice for first-timers and die-hard fans alike.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her newest column, Infused at GottaGo.us and www.FoodandDrinkDigital.com and as Indy’s Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC. Gotta Go is published on www.Gottago.us, www.BroadwayWorld.com, in M magazine and these newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Wednesday, November 18

Thanksgiving List

Tradition dictates us to feel thankful at this time of year, and so we do. Everyone looks at you, straight in the eye, and almost demands to know what you are grateful for. Whatever answer you give had better be worthy of the occasion, too; because there will be a silence while all listening will judge and rate your list of counted blessings.

Generally the obligatory answers of health, the troops, our children, etcetera are offered up as sacrificial lambs, as we hope to avoid the ugly glare of disapproval from the others at the dinner table on Thanksgiving.

I am getting a little practice in the week beforehand, this year, so my answer will be ready, polished even. Don’t want to fumble over my answer like last year.

Not in any particular order, or priority, without mentioning the above items, for which I’m naturally appreciative, my thankful list goes something like this:

Shoes
Tall, short, open-toed, pumps, snow boots-you name the style and I have either owned it or wanted to. You knew I was going to say this one, didn’t you?

Indy’s Circle of Lights
Every year I go downtown and walk around the tree of lights, with the snow floating gently down upon my shoulders, hot chocolate in hand, enjoying the carriages and strollers passing by.

Stuffing and Dressing
Why did they both make the list? Aaah, because there is a difference and I enjoy both equally and did not want to show favoritism. Dressing is cooked outside the bird; stuffing, of course, is cooked inside Tom Turkey. Oyster is my first choice, then sage, but don’t fret; cornbread style will not be rejected, I promise.

People
Kind souls who let me go in front of them at the store. I appreciate this one especially at the holidays when most people are frazzled and impatient. If I have only an item or two in my arms,
very nice people allow me to scoot right ahead of them. That makes my whole day brighter, and
makes me smile; so thanks.

Chocolate
White, milk, dark, all of it, and in any combination. It is all good and anything it is poured over, dipped with or surrounded by can slip through on this one, also. Melt it, drizzle it and serve
it up, no one is going to complain, least of all me.

Friends
The ones who allow you to call them just to vent. They don’t try to solve the issue; you’ll do that later. They just listen, or pretend to, while you rant and rave about some insignificant or larger problem such as the guy who can’t drive right or the in-law who annoys everyone.

Bubble Bath
It may seem really trivial, but after a day of salsa dancing, go-karting or working in the yard, it is so nice to slip into a tub of bubbles and float away for a few minutes. You know, before the muscles tighten up and start screaming at you that you are too old to be doing whatever you did.

Truly there are far more pressing issues to count in my blessings, but certainly my family members will cover those for me. Much like the ‘guilt by association’ rule, I shall let their choices
count for me, which leaves me with the fun ones. Don’t you love how I make them do the hard stuff?

If you would like to submit your thankful list to me, e-mail it to commnews@inmotion.net or elizabeth@gottago.us, I promise not to judge. Me, I’ll be right here, figuring out how to dip stuffing into melted chocolate. That won’t be too messy, will it?

--This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Wednesday, November 11

A Chirstmas Carol

Disney’s A Christmas Carol 3-D opens the holiday season with a timeless classic tale. Jim Carrey tops the list of voices used for this Robert Zemeckis film. Using the same technique as in The Polar Express, A Christmas Carol is a slightly darker, more realistic movie version of the Charles Dickens story than those in recent years.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Carrey) is the penny-pinching, blackhearted soul who must learn the lessons of humanity and kindness through the visits of three ghosts, also portrayed by Carrey. Colin Firth gives voice to Scrooge’s nephew Fred, and Gary Oldman takes the part of Bob Cratchit,
the lowly employee of Scrooge’s counting house.

With slight differences, such as the Ghost of Christmas Present being returned to the original candle apparition, the movie stays along familiar lines. Audience members under the legal age seemed to enjoy it, with a few preschool-age tots a little scared of this version. Nothing a box of Milk Duds couldn’t solve, though.

--This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Wednesday, November 4

The Indiana Ballet Company: Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera was performed this past weekend at the Madame Walker Theatre by The Indiana Ballet Company. Converting Phantom to a ballet production was an interesting concept, and accepting the invitation, I was sitting dead center.
The love triangle between Christine (Tuesday Mayhew), Raoul, Ballet Master (Ogulcan Borova) and Phantom (Sergey Sersiev) begins in Act I with only Christine aware of the masked one’s presence. Unable to resist his charm, a spell is cast upon her, causing confusion for Raoul, who cannot understand the power of the Phantom. In a moment of weakness, Phantom allows Christine to remove his mask, horrifying her by the sight of his disfigurement, and she runs.
In Act II, the three principals dance through a Spanish Masquerade Ball, and Phantom declares his love for Christine. Making her decision to stay with the Phantom, the ballerina is left alone as
Phantom vanishes, unable to face his fear of love, leaving behind only his mask and cape.
Powerful and moving are the best descriptors to this switch in the familiar story. Sersiev wraps the Phantom character in his own cape of dark sensuality. Watching him dance is an intense assault of the senses, holding your attention raptly, breathlessly waiting for his next move. Able to sense his vulnerability, fear and desire, the audience members are left feeling awakened in their own frailties.
Alyona Yakovleva, IBC’s founding director, has set a mission for the classically trained company to connect with the Indy community, with each of its artists living and working in Indiana, year round.
Nutcracker will be the next venture for the company on December 11 and 12 at the Madame Walker Theatre.
Photos: Polina Pesherov
This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Wednesday, October 28

Theater Review: Phoenix Theatre: Shipwrecked!

At the corners of St. Clair and Park, tucked in among beautiful homes, sits a former church cloaking The Phoenix Theatre. Currently on stage is Shipwrecked! An Entertainment through November 8.
Goad as Louis de Rougemont

Casting Indy’s theater-pillar Charles Goad (The Fantasticks, The Merchant of Venice, A Christmas Carol) was more than enough reason for me to accept a review invitation.

For whatever reason, although normally known for its edgy, adult-themed productions, Phoenix has granted Indy with a monumental performance which is G-rated.

Don’t ask why, simply enjoy.

When they decide to offer a family-friendly production, they do it up right.

Another of my local favorites, Eddie Curry (The Producers, Don’t Dress for Dinner) portrays almost two dozen characters throughout the show proving his multi-tiered talent works on stages south of the pyramids. I had long fostered that particular hope and am pleased to see the fruition of my prayers.

Charles Goad and Eddie Curry
Using the less-is-more theory, the almost one-man show revolves around the story of a man who lives to tell about his exciting adventures on the high seas. Some step up to discredit him, but he holds tight to his story, giving the audience that last chance to believe in him.

There are not enough superlatives to honor the quality of actor portraying the lead character, Louis de Rougemont. Goad represents the best of the best in live theater and it is, as always with this gentleman, pure joy to watch him in action.

If you have never basked in the glow of the talent which is Charles Goad, then here’s your chance --- Don’t botch it.

Bottom Line: Whether you need to beg, borrow or empty your nephew’s piggy bank, get the fifteen Georges together for a ticket to this show. The immense satisfaction of money well spent will be your just reward. Shipwrecked! is quite clearly one of this year’s best values and should be required viewing for every school age child in the metropolitan area.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as Indy’s Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC, and follow her on Twitter @GottaGo and Facebook. Gotta Go is published in M magazine and the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

Wednesday, October 21

My Little Baby's All Grown Up, and Getting Married

Looking as if she had just stepped off a wedding cake, my lovely daughter, Britani Nicole, floated down the aisle this weekend into the arms of her prince, Simon, standing at the altar. When your baby has found The One, you know your own life is changed forever.

Held at Community Church of Greenwood, the small, intimate affair had a dreamy effect through the use of candlelight and plum calla lilies. My princess’ gown with rum-pink bead work gently sprinkled across it and the handmade veil were reminiscent of a bygone era. Her dark tresses were curled and flowed gracefully down her back. Certainly, Walt Disney has never created for his films a princess as beautiful as mine.

I attempted, before the ceremony, to describe to her in a mother-daughter moment, how much love I felt for her and found it ironic that as someone who writes weekly about strangers, I could not find the right words for this so-personal situation. I hope she understood my heart’s meaning, anyway.

I was honored, and humbled, by my child’s request that I walk her down the aisle. I now know how a dad feels when walking the last walk with your little girl. It was over so quickly, and yet memories of her childhood were able to race through my mind at a lightning speed.

Arriving into this world in 20 minutes flat, the 9-pound, 12-ounce bald baby let me know right away I would for- ever be twisted around her long elegant finger. With memories of stitches from a bike fall, dead pets (hermit crab), the American Girl sleeping bag incident, science projects, PTO meetings, talent contests, proms, boyfriends, moving to college, and now the wedding flooding my thoughts, I was overwhelmed with a bitter sweetness. Would I be on the sidelines now, forever watching from the bleachers as she steps boldly, as she always does, into her new life? Were these steps down the aisle the last steps I would take with her?
She smiled at me as she started to leave after the reception, and that smile said it all. “The last step in my life? Not likely, Mom. You are stuck with me, and we are just getting started with the really good stuff.”

So I know that although she has moved far away physically, she will always be right here with me. And one day, Princess Britani will contact me via her cell phone, announcing through an ultrasound photo, that she will be giving me a grandchild. Until then, I will be content to know that God chose me, and no one else, to be her mother and share this joyous ride of her life.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living, travel columnist, freelance writer and photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic for Gotta Go. Read Infused, her spirits, wine & beer lifestyle column, at www.GottaGo.us and www.FoodDigital.com and catch her as Indy’s Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC. Gotta Go is published on www.Gottago.us, www.BroadwayWorld.com, an in print. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Wednesday, August 26

Inglorious Basterds

In movie theaters now is Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Well known as both a writer and a director, Tarantino makes this movie one of his finest. For those not in the know, he also gave us Pulp Fiction (1994), Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004), creating his own genre of comedy and gore. Would that be goromedy?

Always surprising us, QT’s choice for front man, Lt. Aldo Raine, is A-lister Brad Pitt, who reveled in his role as the leader of the American Jews sent to brutally kill 100 Nazis per team member. Not since Burn After Reading (2008) has he seemed to so thoroughly enjoy himself on the screen. Who else could bring laughter from the audience with various wisecracks, while practicing the fine art of forehead carving?

Tarantino’s genius, perhaps, lies in casting the perfect actor for each role, and then allowing each to do what he or she does best. He gives them permission to go over the top to become almost a caricature of the characters they are to portray.

And then they kill somebody. Violently.

Pitt’s portrayal as the Tennessean sent to kick Nazi butts was not the hit of the movie, though. Surprised? You’re not the only one.
Christoph Waltz as Colonel Hans Landa

There was a breakout star of the movie. How many actors can say that they stole a film from the king of Hollywood?


Christoph Waltz can. Turning in the No. 1 performance of the movie, Waltz portrays Colonel Hans Landa, the deliciously evil, and yet somehow, oddly charming, egomaniacal Nazi who hunts down Jews. Hailing from Vienna, Austria, Waltz is virtually still an unknown in America. But not for long.

Winning the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival this year for Basterds, Waltz appears to be a sure bet for the Best Supporting Actor Award at the Oscars. Not the typical SS officer, the eloquent Landa is crazy like a fox, with a self-indulgent attitude willing to do anything to catch what he terms repulsive rats. The opening scene sets the pace and tone of the movie, with Landa quietly and methodically coercing a French farmer into revealing exactly where he has stashed a Jewish family. Then has his men open fire, naturally; it’s his job.
Diane Kruger as Bridget von Hammersmark
The rest of the movie is a bit surprising here and there, dubbed as a fantasy-historical film. The plot basically is about the one family member who escaped, planning revenge and simultaneously, some espionage is worked in while a German hero falls for the escaped Jewish girl.

Confused?

They throw in subtitles, too. Not to worry, though; it actually runs smoothly.

Not addressed in the movie were the inhumane and vicious atrocities endured by the victims of the Nazis. Perhaps Tarantino credits his audience with the intelligence to remember those facts concerning WWII. Disregarding the final events of the war, as played out in history, the flick resembles a young boy’s fantasy of, “Wouldn’t it be nice if this is what really happened?”

Bottom Line: Plan on hearing about this movie, and Christoph Waltz, for a long time, and consider both already on the list of Golden Globe and Academy Award nominees.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, music, restaurant and performing arts critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC and follow her on Twitter @ejmusgrave1 and Facebook.
Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

Wednesday, August 12

Restaurant Review: N'awlins Creole Cafe'

Photo by N'awlins Creole Cafe'
I was invited to test the newest eatery in the area, N'awlins Creole Café, 1118 N. State Road 267, in Avon. Opening just a week or so, ago, the café is already showing a promising start. Owners Brian and Jeri are originally from the pelican state and have run a catering business prior to opening the restaurant.

Tasting several items from the menu, I am happy to report that it is not only possible to get authentic Creole cuisine in the Indy area, it is also possible to do so without breaking the bank. The catfish was flaky and moist, the breading even and not too thick. The shrimp Po Boy sandwich was stacked high with the little guys and dressed as it’s done in New Orleans – mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.

The jambalaya was as good as it can get this far north. The spices were noticeable without overpowering the traditional chicken, smoked sausage, and for an extra buck, shrimp. All seafood is brought in from Louisiana. was also tipped to the fact that crawfish is only good in the months with the letter “R” in it…which means no crawfish until September.

The gumbo file was a hearty soup delicious in its combination of shrimp and spices. The side dishes, Cajun corn, and red beans and rice, were hot and delicious. Future plans are for wine and beer to be added to the menu, but for right now, soft drinks are available. The décor was reminiscent of the former occupant, a coffee shop, and there is Dixie music in the air.

Outdoor seating is available, as are catering and delivery options. I have been invited back to check out the lunch menu. That sounds like a great idea, since I want to try the pralines from the dessert menu. The prices are reasonable and the steady stream of customers gives the distinct impression that this eatery has a very bright future.
T:  (317) 272-1077; Website: Nawlinscreolecafe.com Address: 1118 N State Road 267, Avon, IN
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC, and follow her on Twitter @ejmusgrave1 and Facebook. Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

Wednesday, July 22

Fair Food 2009

It’s that marvelous, wonderful time of the year again – state and county fair time. The 4-H projects are turned in for judging, ribbons are distributed and displayed, rides are bolted together and, best of all, concession booths start selling fair food.
Fair Food Time!

Fair food is in a food group all its own and probably not on the nutritional food pyramid. Much of it started as real food, and then metamorphosed into junk food on steroids. Noir movie director Tim Burton couldn’t come up with the weird extremes which have been taken with once reasonably edible stuff. Nothing is too
far out, nothing is off limits, and anything healthy can, and will, be turned into the sinful delights we dream
about the rest of the year.

So what’s out there? The common pineapple whip ice cream, corn dogs and walking tacos have been upstaged by the truly weird. First, the Snickers candy bar was deep fried, then Oreos, then Twinkies...

OK, here’s the list of food gone crazy at the fairs which I have heard about, seen in person or actually eaten.
First, the kabob items, because at fairs, if the food item isn’t drowned in a vat of hot oil, it’s skewered, right?
Salad on a stick

Salad on a stick – someone figured out how to put lettuce on a skewer. Healthier, true, but where do the croutons fit into this picture? Pineapple spears, Carmellows, caramel-covered marshmallows, and cheesecake
wedges are now on sticks. The newest kabobs to hit the circuit are chocolate-covered peanut butter rounds, chocolate-covered Key Lime pie and frozen s’mores. The last item is, of course, drizzled with chocolate, caramel or other sweet toppings.

Pretzel rods are being dipped in chocolate or caramel, fish are in tacos and mashed-potato martinis are hitting the midway this year.

What’s being batter-dipped and deep-fried? Frog legs, banana pudding wraps and Pop Tarts. Hot dogs are now being wrapped in a zucchini skin, deep fried and called, what else, zucchini weenie. Say that three
times fast.
Deep-fried chocolate-covered strawberry

Chocolate-covered bacon is also deep fried now, as are Jelly Belly jelly beans, Spam, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese-filled sausages, Tootsie Rolls, alligator meat, Pepsi, Coke and, drum roll please, White Castle hamburgers. Yep, the little square guys are battered and oiled up for a fast-track heart attack.

The healthier fare being given the royal-oil treatment are strawberries, pineapple and bananas. Avocados, carrots and green beans have not entered the concession zone, as far as I know. However, there’s always next year.

If you have a favorite fair food, share it with me by emailing a note to elizabeth@gottago.us. Me, I will be right here, figuring out how to deep fry cotton candy.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer and theater critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and at gottago.us. Comments can be sent to elizabeth@gottago.us.

Wednesday, June 3

Beef and Boards: Annie

With reports of the recession filling the newspapers and airwaves with disheartening information, it’s nice to get a shot of optimism. Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, 9301 N. Michigan Street, provides just that in the form of Annie. Everyone’s favorite orphan needs no explanation or introduction, unless you have been out of the loop since its conception in the funny pages.

Just in case, a little history. Little Orphan Annie, created by Harold Gray, first appeared in 1924. The character’s name was fashioned after Indiana’s own James Whitcomb Riley’s poem Little Orphant Annie. The Broadway version won seven Tony Awards. The movie version starred Albert Finney, Carol Burnett and Aileen Quinn playing the little redheaded orphan.

Following a contest with the winner being chosen American Idol-style, the title character was portrayed by Kara Oates. Oates put forth a performance of sweetness backed up by two fists of feistiness. The best song performed by this pint-sized lead was Maybe, followed by her performance with the rest of the orphans singing It’s the Hard-Knock Life.
Ty Stover turned in a strong performance as Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, with his best time in the spotlight occurring with his interactions with Annie. Last seen in this role in 2002, Stover most recently portrayed Old Deuteronomy in B&B’s Cats. Proving his talents are more than just his soothing baritone voice, Stover bared his gentler, sensitive side in this musical. Nice touch; keeps the audience on its toes in regard to this actor’s untapped abilities. These two vastly different performances of Stover’s garner even more of my respect and creates a wish to see him in more complicated roles in the future.

Miss Hannigan, played well by Cynthia Collins, connects solidly with Jeff Stockberger as Rooster. Easy Street was nicely done, with help from Carol Worcell as Lily St. Regis.

Kenny Shepard once again proved his worth by taking on numerous roles throughout the show, including emcee beforehand. Shepard’s characters were each a complete transformation from the prior, including mannerisms, voice and costume.

Had he spent even one instant longer on stage than he did, John Vessels would have completely snatched the thunder away from every other cast member. Known in Indianapolis for his work as the good Reverend Oglethorpe in the packed-house Smoke on the Mountain saga, Vessels upstages the rest of the cast with his perfectly-timed deadpan style. Setting the bar higher for the rest, while portraying the valued butler Drake, as well as radio announcer Bert Healy, Vessels got the most reaction from audience members and steps into this week’s Gotta Go spotlight’s high beam. The only error made in regard to Vessels is director Eddie Curry not using him onstage far more.
Bottom Line: B&B has put forth the classic, Annie, in such a way that it should become an annual tradition for the entire family.

If you have an event, restaurant or festival you would like reviewed, send an e-mail to commnews@in-motion.net or call 241-7363. Me, I will be right here just thinking about Tomorrow.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, theater critic, and travel writer. You can now follow her on facebook or Twitter and catch her as Indy's Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC's Saturday Morning News Show, giving her quick Gotta Go list of things to do in the Indy area, including restaurants, festivals, events, theater and films.


*Send requests to Elizabeth@gottago.us.
*Photos courtesy of www.juliecurryphotography.com
*Visit www.beefandboards.com for tickets, show times, and details.

--This post was originally published under Gotta Go in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Wednesday, March 18

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Gala

Every kingdom has its so-called royal class, and Indy is no exception. Friday evening proved it as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway royalty came out to play. IMS held its Gala Extraordinaire at the Sagamore Ballroom at the Indiana Convention Center for the kings and queens of the brickyard. Helmets and jumpsuits were exchanged for tuxes and evening gowns as the elite came forth to share in the Centennial event for the Speedway.
All three four-time champions, Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser, Sr., were on hand for the festivities. King Foyt took in stride the friendly harassment for not wearing a tux and bow tie, commenting that he couldn’t afford one. We should take up a donation, shouldn’t we?
The Thomas Kinkades were also on hand to unveil the masterwork which will grace the cover of the 2009 Indy 500 official program. Conversing with the painter gave this lady a little thrill as a fan of many years. He and wife Nanette, who was wearing a gorgeous red gown, shared a tidbit to keep in mind.
Known for placing the letter “N” in every painting for his wife, Kinkade inserted two on this painting. You will have to look hard for them, because I am not telling where they are located. Sorry, I like a little secret; don’t you?

What fabulous foods were devoured by all? Although the appetizers of melon and prosciutto were scrumptious, and the entrée of macadamia-crusted chicken was tender and delicious, nothing and no one could take the spotlight away from the dessert; my apologies to Mr. Wayne Newton.

Dear God, when I die, please allow me to come back as this showstopper dessert. A replica of the IMS Pagoda created entirely from chocolate and cheesecake. That, ladies and gentlemen, is heaven on earth. A tower of fudge brownie, cappuccino cheesecake, chocolate tiles and Chambord (raspberry liqueur) chocolate cake represented well the famous Pagoda of the Brickyard. Until I nibbled off the roof and gobbled the foundation, that is.

Hey, what’s a girl to do when faced with a plate of sinful decadence?
Exactly. I do all the hard work for you, don’t I? I am not sure which catering company erected that tower of temptation, but I want them at all of my soirees.
If you have questions or comments, e-mail me at Elizabeth@gottago.us. Me, I’ll be right here, trying to figure out where to get one of those cool commemorative jackets.

--This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Wednesday, March 11

Review: Cirque du Soleil Saltimbanco

Running off to join the circus has always been a little fantasy of mine. Having just seen Cirque du Soleil Saltimbanco at Conseco Fieldhouse, makes me ponder...what if?

Living in a caravan, traveling by starlight, performing under the big top...that is a fantasy. Nowadays two to four semitrailers of equipment, props and costumes is the way they roll. And traveling by caravan is also a thing of the past. Jet-setting is more like it in the modern world, folks. Nothing slow like a wagon or even a bus driving through the night for these athletic performers.

They finish their final performance and are whisked off to a charter plane to fly to the next location  before their gear arrives. Artistic Director, Adam Miller, was kind enough to sit with me and explain some facts of life in the circus. Translation: he took off my rose-colored glasses, showed me the man behind the curtain and corrected all misconceptions.

So if they don’t have bearded ladies, sawdust floors or caravans anymore, what do they have?
Athletes. Lots and lots of athletes.
And they don’t travel alone. The 50 performers are accompanied by a support and administrative team of 40. Payroll clerks, equipment techs, choreographers and even nutritionists.

Yes, I said nutritionists.

When you are an acrobat on a trapeze, a high-wire walker or Chinese pole performer, you need to be in peak physical condition. That includes eating a balanced diet. I did not see one single Twinkie or Girl Scout cookie sitting around--I looked.

Bottom  Line: Cirque du Soleil Saltimbanco is a fantastic display of human athleticism and showmanship. I was fortunate to see Cirque du Soleil Jungle Fantasy when it was in town and I certainly look forward to the next Cirque du Soleil to come to our wonderful city. It is worth the ticket price, and is an experience you and your kids will cherish for a lifetime.

Photo Credit: Submitted by Cirque du Soleil

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC, and follow her on Twitter @ejmusgrave1 and Facebook. Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.