Friday, December 31, 2010

A Memphian dreams of Buffalo on New Year's Eve

It's New Year's Eve, so what's on my mind?

Well, this Miami-Notre Dame game (I was a Hurricanes fan as a kid), this pint of Ghost River Golden (I love beer), the exhaustion in my legs (I ran nine miles today), the approaching thunderstorm (I sometimes obsess about the weather), an upcoming day trip to Nashville to celebrate my 34th birthday and the potential of an exciting trip this summer to Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York State and possibly Ontario.

Really, that last one is what has me most excited. We plan on visiting family in Columbus, Ohio, this summer and talked about a day trip to Cleveland to experience my biggest travel regret so far: not visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I got to thinking last night, though, about attempting to extend the trip to other areas: the UP of Michigan, maybe Detroit, the Finger Lakes region of New York, Niagra Falls and Buffalo, the wineries of Ontario, maybe even Toronto.

My mind is literally like a wheel chugging along at 100 miles per hour as I think about all those possibilities. I LOVE to travel, and possibly even more so, love to think about and plan those trips. I'm excited about the idea of visiting new places.

So as I watch bowl games before going to friends' to enjoy dinner tonight, the potential of this new trip has me most excited as I think about the new year. I'll keep you posted.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

MSO Pops rings in Christmas season with 'Home for the Holidays'

I had my first experience with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra's "Home for the Holidays" Pops concert on Saturday. It was also my first MSO performance to attend with new conductor Mei-Ann Chen in charge.

Let me just say she's great. I won't pretend to be able to rate her performance as a conductor compared to other conductors. But I found her to be charming and fun. Yes, I said fun. I thought she was having a blast on stage while leading the MSO in several Christmas songs, from the traditional to some modern twists based on a couple of seasonal movies to a few sing-along songs. She even mixed in a Chanuka Suite.

Soloist Ashley Brown, who apparently originated the title role in "Mary Poppins" on Broadway, was enjoyable to listen to. I would gladly watch her in a Broadway show.

I look forward to attending again next year and maybe even bringing along our son, who will be 5 then. He's really starting to enjoy everything related to the Christmas season. And there were a number of kids in attendance.

I'm usually too stressed at the beginning of December planning for parties and the like so it was really great to start the Christmas season with a relaxing night of holiday music.

Here's a link to a survey I just received from MSO. I encourage you to take it if you attended on Saturday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

'Dreamgirls' reveals brilliance of stage performers

I so wanted to blog about "Dreamgirls," which closed at The Orpheum yesterday, at some point last week so those of you out there maybe would be swayed to go see it. But since it is now closed you'll just have to trust me when I say the performance was brilliant.

One thing I've learned recently with some solid shows at The Orpheum is that it doesn't matter if you've seen a show before, have seen the movie version of a production or even hated a previous performance. Don't let those past experiences have an impact on your decision to see a show.

"Dreamgirls" was tremendous. I really didn't remember that much about the movie to be able to make a smart comparison. But one idea I previously had floating around in my head about traveling Broadway productions is that they're not as strong. I mean, you normally see the big-name actors playing on Broadway or in London's West End. So that must mean the traveling show is much like a minor league system of actors, right?

Dead wrong. This fall's lineup of "Wicked," "9 to 5" and now "Dreamgirls" at The Orpheum showed that these traveling professionals are exactly that: pros. I was blown away last week. There were some tremendous voices on display.

Now I must admit that I'm not really looking forward to the idea of "Shrek: The Musical" coming to The Orpheum next month, but I might be willing to give it a try knowing that someone is sure to steal the show.