Director Jewels

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder at Kansas City's Starlight Theatre {Review}

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this event. No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. 



If you live in Kansas City and you haven't made it to Starlight Theatre yet this summer, it's not too late! This week (through 8/14), you can catch the Tony Award winning show A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder out under the stars and the night sky.


This show is a stylized piece that features a toy stage inside a larger proscenium, which constantly opens to reveal new two-dimensional settings. The score has echoes of Gilbert and Sullivan, Lerner and Loewe and English music hall - it sounds very proper and refined, while some of the plot (it's about murder, after all) being played out onstage is anything but genteel.

The story begins as we meet Monty Navarro, a man who should have been born into a family of wealth and splendor, but who has instead spent his days poor and without connections. Upon learning he is eighth in line to inherit an earldom, he sets off to meet (....and possibly murder?) all of his distant relations.

The relatives are nearly all played by the same actor - in this production, John Rapson. I have seen a lot of theater and a lot of quick costume changes, but I was astounded by the way this one actor transformed into so many different characters - usually within a few seconds. Beyond the basics of a costume change, he adapted to completely different personalities right and left. It was amazing! I want to watch the whole show again so that I can time all of the costume changes.


This show is a bit unlike most other musicals - it had its very own flare and I enjoyed the new feel. I wouldn't recommend for kids or young teens due to some suggestive content and stylized violence, but for date night (or girls night), it was very fun!



Tickets for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder at Starlight Theatre are on sale now for $15-$143+. Tickets are available online at Starlight Theatre, by calling 816.363.STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, MO 64132. Evening performances begin at 8 p.m.

Thanks to Starlight Theatre for providing my tickets to the show. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Done With Diapers...But Not With WaterWipes!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.



I've never really made it a secret that I wanted to use only the most natural products for my kids when they were babies. It never made sense to me to slather them in chemicals during bathtime, bedtime, or even during the constant diaper changes. My son, especially, had very sensitive skin and a lot of products made his eczema breakouts worse. It became normal for me to seek the purest products I could find as I forged my way into motherhood.

Baby wipes were something I was always very particular about - because my son's skin was sensitive and we ended up with diaper rashes if we weren't careful! By the time I found out about WaterWipes, both of my kids were nearly out of diapers - but that didn't stop my rejoicing. Finally, I had found a baby wipe that I was comfortable using all the time.


So, what's all the hype? WaterWipes contain only TWO ingredients - yes, two! Those two things are 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. That is it! I used to be so frustrated reading packages of baby wipes where there were a dozen ingredients listed. How is all that necessary?! These wipes are effective - they work for diaper changes, for washing sticky fingers after a snack at the zoo, for cleaning up a spill in the car...as fellow moms, we all know that the possible messes with little ones around are unlimited.

And the best news? You can now purchase WaterWipes at Target! Do you hear the angels singing? Picking up my favorite baby wipes at my favorite store? It makes those "quick" runs to Target even better.


We keep WaterWipes just about everywhere: on the bathroom counter, in the kids' room, in my bag, in the car, with our arts and craft supplies, and anywhere else it seems they might come in handy. We may not be using diapers anymore, but we are definitely not out of the baby wipes days yet! Thank goodness for this chemical-free option - we're so happy to have them!

Want to win some WaterWipes from Target?  I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes (5 winners).

WaterWipes Target Giveaway



What's your must-have baby product?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Beauty and the Beast at Kansas City's Starlight Theatre {Review}

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this event. No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. 


There's no better way to spend a night out under the stars in Kansas City than at Starlight Theatre! A classic show has rolled into town for just this week, and it's one you will not want to miss. NETworks presents Disney's Beauty and the Beast - a family favorite that is a wonder to behold.

Brooke  Quintana as Belle and the cast of Disney's Beauty and the  Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

You're in for a treat with this touring Broadway adaptation of Disney's 1991 animated film. This particular tour has been on the road for eleven months, but that doesn't stop them from bringing a high-energy, visually stunning production right here to Kansas City!

The show features the famous songs from the movie including Belle, Gaston, Beauty and the Beast, and Be Our Guest, plus additional numbers created for the expansion of the show on Broadway. I was a little disappointed that two songs were cut from those included in the original Broadway production (No Matter What and Maison de Lunes), but all the favorites are there!

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek  as Gaston and the cast of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

The original creators of the 1994 Broadway musical came together again to launch the NETworks’ touring production. The show is directed by Rob Roth and choreographed by Matt West, with costume design by Ann Hould-Ward (Tony Award® winner for the Broadway production), lighting design by Natasha Katz, scenic design by Stanley A. Meyer, sound design by John Petrafesa Jr. and music supervision by Michael Kosarin.

My three-year-old daughter attended the show with me - it was her first Starlight production! While she was a little frightened of the wolves and the Beast's roaring, she adored all of Belle's dresses and hasn't stopped talking about them. It was magical to share such a special night with my girl - and we didn't even mind the heat.

Brooke  Quintana as Belle and the cast of Disney's Beauty and the  Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
The touring production uses 81 wigs and 580 costume pieces, including some from the original Broadway costumes. Make sure you arrive early at Starlight to go on a tour of the theater - you might get to go backstage and catch a glimpse of all those wigs waiting for their actors and actresses.

The production design lends itself to a storybook feel, with a vine-covered proscenium encircling the cast as they move from Belle's provincial town to the Beast's castle and back again. Be Our Guest was a crowd favorite for sure, with streamers shot out into the audience multiple times. I saw little girls in Belle dresses holding tight to some of those streamers on their way out of the theatre.

The Enchanted Objects of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Thank you, Starlight, for bringing this wonderful production to Kansas City. This experience with my daughter is one I will never forget. I'm sure she and I will share many more magical evenings at this beautiful theater in the future.

Sam Hartley  as the Beast and Brooke  Quintana as Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Tickets for Beauty and the Beast at Starlight Theatre are on sale now for $15-$143+. Tickets are available online at Starlight Theatre, by calling 816.363.STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, MO 64132. Evening performances begin at 8 p.m. and there is a Saturday morning show at 10:00 a.m.

Thanks to Starlight Theatre for providing my tickets to the show. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Coterie Theatre Presents MADAGASCAR: A Musical Adventure - Now through 8/7/16

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this production at The Coterie Theatre. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own.



There are a lot of days here in Kansas City when the heat is just too much and we moms have to find something engaging to do with our kids without fear of heatstroke. Last week was so warm, I didn't want to go outside at all. So we spent the week coloring endless pictures, reading books, using our imaginations, and - my favorite - heading to one of our most-loved local spots, Crown Center, for a day of fun.

In addition to hosting amazing free kid-friendly exhibits that change throughout the year, Crown Center is the home of The Coterie Theatre - one of my favorite places in Kansas City! This summer, you'll find that The Coterie has been transformed into a tropical paradise featuring some familiar characters that kids will be delighted to see onstage: Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo, and Melman the giraffe!

Left to right: Enjoli Gavin (as Gloria), Patrick Beasley (as Alex), Joey Boos (as Melman) and
Donovan Woods (as Marty) Madagascar – A Musical Adventure, featuring, based on the DreamWorks
animation motion picture, with book by Kevin Del Aguila, original music and lyrics by George Noriega
& Joel Someillan, and directed by Jerry Jay Cranford, receiving its world premiere as part of The Coterie’s
Lab for New Family Musicals in its 2015/2016 Season, June 14 – August 7, 2016.
Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

This world premiere show, Madagascar: A Musical Adventure follows the hilarious antics of these four rambunctious friends on their madcap journey from New York’s Central Park Zoo to the beaches of Madagascar. With ten memorable new songs added to a pop favorite from the original score, their journey goes from the wilderness to just plain wild when they are tracked by Skipper and his always plotting penguins, and then learn to “Move It! Move It!” from King Julian and his loyal lemur subjects. The story is brought vividly to life on stage by imaginative sets, colorful costumes, and a high energy, dance-filled production.

We were able to catch a matinee performance of the show that was filled with children of all ages. Their energy filled the air with anticipation and before the show even began, we were treated to cast members teaching us several dance moves in preparation for the "Move It! Move it!" dance break partway through the show.

The show features excellent pacing and the cast does a fantastic job of keeping their young audience engaged at all times. My kids are three and five years old and while they were a little fidgety, they never asked to leave the show. They were pretty mesmerized by the animal characters and asked questions about the story. My daughter (she's three) did not enjoy the "Foosa" song and hid her face for a minute, as she thought that was a little scary. But otherwise, she loved it - and once I told her that the "Foosas" were just people in costumes, she was okay.

Left to right: Donovan Woods (as Marty) and Patrick Beasley (as Alex) in The Coterie’s summer musical,
Madagascar – A Musical Adventure, based on the DreamWorks animation motion picture, with book by
Kevin Del Aguila, original music and lyrics by George Noriega & Joel Someillan, and directed by
Jerry Jay Cranford, receiving its world premiere as part of The Coterie’s Lab for New Family Musicals
in its 2015/2016 Season, June 14 – August 7, 2016.
Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

Standout characters for me were the four primary animals: Marty (Donovan Woods), Alex (Patrick Beasley), Gloria (Enjoli Gavin) and Melman (Joey Boos). Each of these actors displayed personalities that were evident from every corner of the theater. The supporting cast was phenomenal, as well. The songs are catchy and led to much dancing in our seats as we watched the show. The "Move It! Move It!" dance break truly has to be experienced in person - you won't be sorry! It was so much fun. Plus, a big shout out to the writers, directors, or cast members who decided to throw in some references to other popular Broadway shows. I laughed until I cried when Marty the Zebra alluded to a certain recent Tony-winning production. You'll just have to go see it to find out what I'm talking about!

The cast of The Coterie’s summer musical, Madagascar – A Musical Adventure, featuring
Enjoli Gavin (as Gloria), Patrick Beasley (as Alex), Donovan Woods (as Marty) and Joey Boos (as Melman),
based on the DreamWorks animation motion picture, with book by Kevin Del Aguila, original music and
lyrics by George Noriega & Joel Someillan, and directed by Jerry Jay Cranford, receiving its world premiere
as part of The Coterie’s Lab for New Family Musicals in its 2015/2016 Season, June 14 – August 7, 2016.
Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

Make sure you check out the remaining schedule of special extras that are included with certain performances -

Friday, July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, and August 5, 7:00 p.m.: Friday Family Fun Night. Post performance autograph session and photo op with cast members.

Saturday, July 9, 2:00 p.m.: Interpreted performance in American Sign Language. 

The cast of The Coterie’s summer musical, Madagascar – A Musical Adventure, featuring Donovan Woods
(as Marty), Patrick Beasley (as Alex), Enjoli Gavin (as Gloria) and Joey Boos (as Melman), based on
the DreamWorks animation motion picture, with book by Kevin Del Aguila, original music and lyrics by
George Noriega & Joel Someillan, and directed by Jerry Jay Cranford, receiving its world premiere as
part of The Coterie’s Lab for New Family Musicals in its 2015/2016 Season, June 14 – August 7, 2016.
Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

Hats off to the entire crew and creative team for bringing to life a show that so many kids will recognize and enjoy. I am actually not very familiar with the original Dreamworks film, but I still had a grand old time. Get your tickets and head to The Coterie - just make sure you're ready to dance!

The cast of The Coterie’s summer musical, Madagascar – A Musical Adventure, featuring Francisco Javier
Villegas (as King Julian), based on the DreamWorks animation motion picture, with book by
Kevin Del Aguila, original music and lyrics by George Noriega & Joel Someillan, and directed by
Jerry Jay Cranford, receiving its world premiere as part of The Coterie’s Lab for New Family Musicals
in its 2015/2016 Season, June 14 – August 7, 2016.
Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

If you're in Kansas City, you don't want to miss this outrageously fun show! Madagascar: A Musical Adventure plays now through August 7 at the Coterie. Tickets are available online.

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this production at The Coterie Theatre. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Saving Time with a #DotComDIY with Pennzoil & Walmart

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DotComDIY #CollectiveBias



As parents, most of us are probably drowning in responsibilities - at least to some degree. I never worried about my brain cells before I became a mom, but in the last five years I have spent a lot of time wondering where all my time goes and how I never seem to catch up. And unfortunately, sometimes things slip through the cracks - like, forgetting we're almost out of orange juice while I'm at the grocery store, or neglecting to put the lid on the kids' sandbox before a big storm, or realizing that my car is almost 3,000 miles overdue for an oil change. I don't have to admit that all of these have recently happened, right? Okay, good. 

There are so many other things I would rather do than try to keep up with all the errands and to-dos and lists of things in my head. I mean, I want to have free time to paint my nails in whatever variety of pink my three year old picks out for me this week.


I'd love to spend hours every day coloring with crayons and markers in a perfect world of Lisa Frank-inspired rainbows. 


If I manage to get the lid back on the sandbox before the sand turns to mush, the kids and I can have a Disney princess beach day where everybody goes sand diving. The giant bulldozer running them over is definitely the five-year-old boy's idea.


And I'm not gonna lie... it's been maybe years since I have read a fictional book all the way through. I would happily trade in all the things that need to be done for the excuse to just sit and read a book from cover to cover in one sitting. That sounds amazing.


While I may not be able to make all of these things happen on a routine basis, I can certainly improve my brain capacity when I am able to purchase the things I need before I even get to the store. Remember what I said up there about orange juice? If I can't remember that, there's no way I'm going to recall that my car needs oil while I'm at the store. Usually these things come to my mind at about midnight, when everyone is asleep and the house is quiet and I can think clearly.

I was super excited this week when I realized that I can actually order Pennzoil motor oil online at Walmart.com. It can be either shipped directly to your house or you can pick it up from your local store. Bonus - right now, a bunch of Pennzoil products are on Rollback right now (for a limited time) at Walmart.com.




A store like Walmart can be busy during the summer months, with so many families out and about running errands together. If I can save time and the effort it takes to get the kids back to the automotive section of a store, I'm all for it! Plus, Pennzoil cleans out the sludge that other oils leave behind...so it's kind of like clearing out mom brain for my car, too.

What's on your to-do list this week? How could ordering basics like motor oil online save you time in the long run?

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.
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