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 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.