Thursday, January 27

Long Beach Peninsula, Washington

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
There’s a beauty that comes with youth. Carefree and playful, unmarred by life’s experiences ~ The summer's beauty. Another beauty grows from those experiences of life. The inner beauty of ... winter.

Just as with people, a landscape or town can bring forth an unconventional beauty from within during its later seasons.

The 28-mile stretch in Washington, Long Beach Peninsula, is a frolicking, topical beauty in the summer. Once winter sets in, its inner beauty — and strengths — awaken while summer hibernates.
Cranberry vine baskets

Gone are the tourists who arrive for the International Kite Festival, boating or to visit Oysterville Sea Farms for oyster shooters. Remaining are the locals to embrace the untold pleasures of the off-season.

Oysterville Sea Farms
Villages are strung along, one after the next, like a strand of cranberries gathered from nearby bogs and made into a Christmas tree garland. Ilwaco, Ocean Park, Long Beach, Oysterville, Nahcotta, Seaview...each awash in the muted hues of late December, casually meandering along the longest continuous sand beach in America. Each seemingly identical until, upon second glance, it's clear each has a separate identity and is interwoven with the others similar to the cranberry vine baskets available at Bay Avenue Gallery.

Showing no fear against the onslaught of 30-foot waves is Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, standing watch over the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean juncture. Pewter waves tipped in white become crashing cymbals against the cliff of Washington's oldest lighthouse, thinner sprays of silver beat as steel drums, the misty-green over spray balances the oceanic orchestra with its rhythmic droplets.
Sticky English Toffee Pudding

Widely recognized as pioneers of the sustaining food movement, Jimella Lucas and Nancy Main have down-sized from their previous eatery of 22 years, world-renown Ark Restaurant, to Jimella's Klipsan Seafood Market & Cafe. Lucas, widely recognized as the goddess chef of seafood, and Main, both classically trained chefs, weather all seasons equally with local, freshly caught seafood, including salmon, oysters and clams.

Main's decadent (especially the Sticky English Toffee Pudding) desserts, more often seen in an over-priced NYC eatery, are a sweet surprise to find in the laid back cafe. Local wines and gourmet food items are available in the market section (also the lobby) including in-house made sauces and necessities for all self-respecting gourmet cooks.

The Depot
The Depot, owned by executive chef Michael Lalewicz and Nancy Gorshe, manager and wine expert, is an old train station refurbished into an upscale, casual eatery. Relishing in its age, much like a favorite uncle or grandfather, the historical stop has stories to tell as you sip Washington reds and nibble Willapa Bay fried oysters with roasted garlic aioli sauce; fig-glazed, bacon-wrapped quail or local comfort food, crab mac 'n cheese.

China Beach Retreat
China Beach Retreat is at peace with summer's tourists and winter's serenity seekers. With a deck for the frolickers and a fireplace for the snugglers, the cottage, tucked away in a cove, allows sweeping views of the Columbia River from each of three enchanting guestrooms. Herons and deer keep watch should you venture out for a horseback ride on the beach, a clam bake or a pint at the retreat's sister B&B, The Shelburne Inn, Hotel, Restaurant & Pub.

Innkeepers David Campiche and Laurie Anderson restored the 1896 hotel to its former old world elegance, including rescued antique, stained glass windows dating from the late 1800′s. Lingering by the cozy fireplace after a gourmet breakfast, you'll notice the pottery of Campiche with colors reflective of the seasons found in the peninsula...and the artist.

Pelicano Restaurant
The Shelburne Inn
Winter boat enthusiasts know the pleasure of the off-season, vying for prizes at the lighted boat event each December. After slipping into the dock outside, it seems only natural to slip inside the upscale Pelicano Restaurant for local-fresh-meets-gourmet cuisine. The simplistic metropolitan decor and Mediterranean-inspired menu are enhanced by the panoramic views of the nearby port.
With the absence of summer, time becomes a friend as chefs, museum curators, sea farmers, and gallery, shop and restaurant owners share their love of peninsula life. Sipping a (locally grown) cranberry champagne cocktail at casually hip 42nd Street cafe, absorbing history at the World Kite Museum (WWII combat kites) or the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, seems a richer and more mellow experience ensconced in the winter's cloak.

In searching the seaside haven of Long Beach Peninsula for a solution to the winter blues, I found a deeper understanding of winter's hidden beauty.

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 Twitter @ejmusgrave1 and Facebook.
Gotta Go is published in M magazine and the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, West Side Community News, New Palestine Reporter, West Indianapolis Community News, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.
Photos by EJMusgrave/Izzy Evans

Thursday, January 20

ISO: Liza Minnelli

Some people go through life, much as they come into it...quietly, without fanfare; leaving the same way. Others burst into the world with an inner pizzazz and inability to keep their excitement and zest for life inside. Liza Minnelli is a glamorous ball of energy willing to share her love of life, her flaws and God-given talent with everyone...anyone who wants to join her party, they only have to show up because all are welcome.

Being born into the Hollywood royalty family of Emmy, Tony, Grammy and Academy Jr. award-winning Judy Garland and Oscar-winning film director Vincenti Minnelli (Gigi), Liza (still with the sassy Z) developed a list of her own awards, including being one of the few people to achieve Grammy, Tony, Emmy and Oscar awards.

My first experience with Ms. Minnelli was as Sally Bowles in Cabaret...good place to start. As a fan of her mother, the appreciation and anticipation of her talent spilled over from my infatuation with Ms. Garland. She did not then, nor has she ever disappointed me. I admired her for trying all genres, including her under-appreciated work with the Pet Shop Boys. Seeing her perform at the Hilbert Circle Theatre with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, January 22, was a memorable moment for me.

Crossing genders, generations and lifestyles, loving them all and receiving their adoration in return...being able to bring together an eclectic group of people who normally would have little in common, but who, for one evening, would stand and cheer a common love, well, ladies and gents, that is a true superstar.

Minnelli zipped onto stage and gave every ounce of her energy for a topnotch show bringing the crowd to its feet four separate times. The show could have been called, The Best of..." with the song list including ConfessionsLiza with a Z, I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye and I Must Have That Man, among others. She also pulled from her latest CD, Confessions, with Heart of Mine, Confession and He is a Tramp. The vivacious lady was delightful in every sense of the word, making it a successful evening for the packed house.

Another sign of a true star is one who realizes they are no longer young and able to perform the exact same way as in their youth and adjusts to continue providing a quality performance. Whether singing a duet with her pianist, Billy Stritch, or bringing out her signature songs, Cabaret and New York, New York, the pint-sized stick of glitzy dynamite proves that the show must go on, even after knee surgery.

Showing her flaws during a couple of unreached vocals, and requesting a second chance for her 'dahlings' gave the audience one more reason to fall in love with the divalicious performer all over again. Her vulnerability, emphasized by her tiny frame, created a balance somehow with her bigger-than-life stage presence and powerful vocals.

Bottom Line: Sharing her talent and herself without holding back, Liza Minnelli proves she's a sassy, brassy dame and a classy lady indeed.

Photo Credit: Submitted Photo

IndianapolisSymphony.org
Confessions
officiallizaminnelli.com/
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 Twitter @ejmusgrave1 and Facebook.
Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, West Side Community News, New Palestine Reporter, West Indianapolis Community News, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

Wednesday, January 12

The Cabaret at The Columbia Club: Tierney Sutton Band

Swanky, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is fashionably elegant. Swanky, as defined by Indianapolis, is The Cabaret at The Columbia Club.

The international-headlining Tierney Sutton Band starts the new year validating the club's signature style. Sutton and company have created Tierney-style scat jazz together for 15 years and eight CDs including the latest Desire.
Many groups focus completely on the lead singer while leaving the others...somewhere in the back.

Sutton, a practicing Baha'i for 25 years, believes in equality and respect for all members. Giving the other members of the band time in the light allows Christian Jacobs (piano), Kevin Axt (bass), and Ray Brinker (drummer), to enhance the performance, flourishing in the admiration of the audience as well.

Sutton shares songs from previous works including 2002's Something Cool with Route 66, Wouldn't it be Loverly, I've Grown Accustomed to His Face, and 2005's I'm With the Band with I Get a Kick and S'Wonderful. The group also draws from current release Desire with My Heart Belongs to Daddy and Skylark.
                                                                                         
Often the studio version of an artist is almost unrecognizable as the same artist you witnessed live. Not so with The Tierney Sutton Band. Listening to Desire, it is simple to imagine you are once again enjoying the intimate setting of The Cabaret at The Columbia.

Bottom Line: With a feather-light touch, Tierney and her trio begin quietly and... somewhat sensually. As the music and vocals slip across your skin like ribbons of silk, you initially resist the temptation to close your eyes, revisiting the loveliest of memories. Eventually, you forgo all pretense and simply succumb to the ethereal experience.

Photo credit: greatexposures.net 
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 Twitter @ejmusgrave1 and Facebook.

Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, West Side Community News, New Palestine Reporter, West Indianapolis Community News, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

Sunday, January 9

Beef and Boards: 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The stress behind a championship ball game with millions of dollars on the line people understand. But the stress behind a childhood rite of passage such as a spelling bee?

Beef and Boards' Dinner Theatre, 9301 N. Michigan Rd., opens its 2011 season with the Tony-Award-winning hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Bee does more than teach you how to spell superfluous words. It shares the stress-related issues which occur behind any competition, even those which occur before braces are removed.

Add in the angst of maturing bodies, puppy love, emotionally and physically absent parents, and, well, you get the picture. There is a tender age when parental approval is intermixed with the desire to be liked by one's peers and separate from the family identity to create your own. It occurs approximately the same time as the shedding of childhood security blankets and noticing the opposite sex.

All of this is addressed within the scope of the county spelling bee where six overachievers attempt to prove themselves as more than their school's word geek. Students include B&B veterans Jayson Elliott (SOTM), Sarah Hund (SOTM), Tiana Checchia (Peter Pan), Dominic Sheahan-Stahl (Footloose). Kiyo Takami and Seth Tucker make their debuts.

Although the title would make this seem a family friendly show, I recommend leaving the under-13 aged at home unless you want to explain the meaning of an erection.
Sarah Hund

Hund, who is incapable of turning in a less-than-flawless performance, portrays her character (Logainne) with an added ounce of zest, standing out as the caricature stereotype of the perfectionist.

Calling four audience members on stage creates an opportunity for the performers to shine, challenged by the unexpected from the non-pro participation. They are weeded out one at a time, between singing, dancing and spelling by the cast. I was one of the selected. I am not exactly sure how my name got put on the list, but have narrowed it down to two possible culprits. At first, I declined feeling my role as a critic would be compromised. Then it occurred to me this would be an opportunity afforded few critics: a chance to see the talent up close. So, I acquiesced and joined the cast on stage.
Licia Watson and Paul Hansen

This bird's eye view was helpful as I was able to judge interactively. Although I could never claim to be more than a dilettante, one other audience member could barely be separated from the pros. Dustin, a high school student, actor and former spelling bee participant, provides the most chance for Paul Hansen as Vice Principal Panch to show his ad libbing abilities when he has to pull out a dictionary and find an extra-hard word to finally get Dustin off the stage.

I found that a guilty pleasure after being reprimanded by Hansen's Panch at my table when I didn't understand immediately that I was on his clipboard's list of names. His stern look and no nonsense, "You are due on stage, young lady," reminds me of a certain principal back in school. Yep, I'm still getting "the look."

Jayson Elliott
Although all turned in f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c performances, the Gotta Go spotlight shines brightest on a particular body part. No, not that one...

The Foot.

Elliott's character, William Barfee, is the uptight, shirt-untucked, obnoxious know-it-all, who needs the win to prove to himself that he is as brilliant as he proclaims. As with many competitors, Barfee has a 'trick' to help him win. Some write on their arm, or wear a superhero costume, William spells out the word on the floor using his lucky foot. Never missing a beat, Elliott corrects any, and all, who mispronounce his name, even while walking away or seemingly busy with something else. Stroke after stroke, with that lucky foot, Barfee eliminates his opponents, one by one. Until Olive Ostrovsky.

Tiana Checchia
Olive is portrayed by Checchia with a vulnerability, sweetness and virginal innocence that everything can be made right with words, that all the world would be a rosy place if only everyone would befriend their dictionary.

The pairing of Checchia and Elliott may well be the best match I have seen at B&B. Her sweetness gently slips under Barfee's obnoxious skin opening his vulnerable side, allowing that something, or someone, is more or at least as important as winning. His hesitant look toward her before stepping up to spell his last word demonstrates the talent which makes Elliott a favorite of the Indianapolis audience and this critic.

Bottom Line: Beef and Boards' Bee gives Jayson Elliott a chance to share yet one more aspect of his multifaceted talent with Indianapolis audiences.

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 Twitter @ejmusgrave1 and Facebook.

Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, West Side Community News, New Palestine Reporter, West Indianapolis Community News, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

Sunday, January 2

Resolutions 2011 a.k.a. The Gotta Go List 2011

Resolutions, goals, bucket lists…whatever term you use, every year we set up our obligatory to-do list annually. Perhaps we do this in hopes of ridding ourselves of bad habits, trying a fresh start in our lives or attempting to reach the next level in our careers.

As is my custom, I take stock of which items I can check off the previous year's Gotta Go list and revise it for the upcoming year. I updated, some with pictures, the ones I crossed off for 2010. I got to many -- including a new sport (skiing), a new state (Georgia) and a new form of transportation (80-foot boat) and a museum (Richmond’s Levi Coffin House).

Since 2011 feels like it is going to be productive, let’s get busy with this year’s Gotta Go list. Remember, don’t worry about the ugly stuff, giving up chocolate, etc; just concentrate on celebrating life by adding in positive experiences and re-enacting favorites. It’s okay to get outlandish; it’s your life, and if you don’t do it now then when? There is no perfect time to do anything so…GO FOR IT!

1. Visit a new state-I am up to 34 of the 50. I plan on adding three or four new ones this year.

2. Throw a party. It can be small, big, outside or in. The point is to gather some friends, encourage them to bring someone new to meet and have fun. I am personally planning on throwing a fondue party and a cheese and wine pairing party. Others may come up impromptu since I do love parties.

3. Apologize to someone-I know this may sound like an non-fun idea, but hear me out. What if, one day you simply said, face-to-face, via a letter, voice mail or text to someone who you know, deep down, that you wronged and simply said, “I am sorry.” That’s it. Nothing else has to come out of it, but the weight lifted from your heart helps you enjoy your own life so much more.

4. Go fly a kite. Literally. Buy, make or borrow one and let it fly.

5. Passport-okay, I have told you this will be on here until I get it done…this year looks promising.

6. Take up, or restart, an art form. Pottery, singing, painting, writing, origami, photography or whatever creative outlet you have always wanted to try or revisit. Take a class at a local studio, library or school, or simply get an instructive DVD or book. Letting the creative juices flow brightens your world. Maybe you prefer to study an art form at a local museum or art gallery; it counts.

7. Build a sand castle or sculpture; or attend a competition and volunteer to help. The point is to dig into the sand and let your inner child back out.

8. Write, a letter, thank you note, something, anything to someone else. The speed of today’s technology is quickly eliminating written messages. Letting someone know you appreciate a gift or telling them the latest news gives them something besides junk mail in their mailbox which creates smiles.

9. Cook a new food dish. Have fun looking through cookbooks, ask family and friends for recipes and just try out one brand new one. Getting out of our comfort zone keeps us out of the dreaded rut.

10. Attend a festival. Blueberry, maple syrup, kite, hot air balloon, popcorn...there is practically a festival dedicated to almost anything you can imagine, even Spam. So get out, go to one and take pictures.

There we have it; our new Gotta Go list. Remember that combining items is allowed and extra marks are given for efficiency and creativity. I am looking forward to hearing how many you check off and I will update my list online as I get mine crossed off.

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 Twitter @ejmusgrave1 and Facebook.


Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, West Side Community News, New Palestine Reporter, West Indianapolis Community News, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.