Texas Renaissance Festival

RenFest

The Texas Renaissance Festival is a magical wonderland of medieval folklore, fairies, and dramatic characters amidst a festive atmosphere of entertainment, gastronomic delights, shopping and unforgettable memories.

The Texas Renaissance Festival runs from September 30-November 28.  The festival is fun for all ages.  We highly recommend it!

Website: https://www.texrenfest.com/

Rating: 5 Stars!  Best!

Photo Gallery from 1001 Dreams Weekend:

Cirque Joyeaux Noel

Christian Stoinev Photo Credit: Lone Star Circus
Christian Stoinev Photo Credit: Lone Star Circus Cirque Joyeaux Noel

December 16-25 2016, Moody Gardens presents Cirque Joyeaux Noel Dinner and Show.  An acrobatics show, a scrumptious holiday buffet, and the Festival of Lights are included in the price of admission.

The Holiday Buffet

Executive Chef Felipe Gonzalez creates a memorable holiday feast for the whole family to enjoy, replete with adult and children selections.  We especially enjoyed the prime rib.  It is tender, flavorful and delectable.  Adults and children delighted in the array of desserts, from cupcakes to a chocolate fountain.

The Show

Cirque Joyeaux Noel is memorable and enchanting.  The show is directed by Lone Star Circus’ Creative Director Fanny Kerwich.  The show consists of several acts performed by an international cast.  The cast includes Christian Stoinev of America’s Got Talent with his charming dog, Scooby and Anna Stankus, a mesmerizing performer who has also been featured in Cirque De Soleil. If you’re wondering how to train dogs easily, consider reading the different Training Dog blogs of dogtraining101.net. Our favorite acts included Christian Stoinev, Anna Stankus’ twirling hula hoops act, and the Poema family, who performed mind-defying, handless summersaults in an unforgettable Risley act.  We also especially enjoyed the quick-change act of Evgeny Vasilenko and Anna Zgurovskaya.

Festival of Lights

Add to your holiday enchantment with a stroll through the Festival of Lights.  Enjoy a stroll among 100 colorful displays feature more than one million lights accompanied by music.

Audience Response

The audience loved it!  They laughed, cheered, and enjoyed holiday merriment and world-class talent throughout the show.

Rating: 4 Stars – Very Good

We really enjoyed the evening.  A scrumptious dinner and memorable show make for an evening you do not want to miss.  This is an evening both adults and children will enjoy and remember for years to come.

Find out more here: http://moodychristmasshow.com/

Turkey and Greece With Barbaros Yachting

Blue Cruise Agean Sea Turkey with Barbaros Yachting and Best Of The Best LLC

If you want to take a trip of a lifetime, we have a recommendation for you: take a Blue Cruise. A “Blue Cruise” is a 7-14 day voyage on the Aegean Sea on a handmade, wooden Turkish yacht called a gulet.

We interviewed and researched several companies. We finally chose to go with Barbaros Yachting. Barbaros Yachting gave us a first-rate experience and a vacation of a lifetime at a reasonable price. The trip included a private gulet rental, a 4-person crew, including captain, personal chef, and bartender, and all-inclusive, delicious Turkish cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eating great food, swimming and snorkeling in crystal-clear water with 12 of your closest friends. What more could you ask for?

We highly recommend Barbaros Yachting. Their staff was professional, courteous, and experienced. When we left, we felt like we were saying goodbye to family.

You can find out about their current travel schedule at www.BarbarosYachting.com. We are certain you will be glad you did!

Also, always know we are happy to advise you to arrange these travels.

We visited the following places: Cos, Rhodes, Nissyros, and Symi, Greece and Bodrum, Knidos, and Datca, Turkey.

You can find out more about Blue Cruises here.

Here are some more pictures from our Blue Cruise.

Blue Cruise Yacht on Aegean Sea

Symi, Greece

Bodrum Castle, Bodrum Turkey

Rhodes, Greece

Blue Cruise On Aegean

Houston Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet

If you are looking to enjoy one of the most beautiful renditions of all time of Romeo and Juliet, we recommend the Houston Ballet. This moving performance captures the most poignant moments of this beautiful and tragic love story. The supporting international cast do a magnificent job.

Houston Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is performed against a backdrop of colorful and intricate sets. Whether you are treating someone to romantic date or wanting to show your friends some of Houston Ballet’s finest works, Romeo and Juliet is ideal. Find out more and purchase tickets here.

Amaluna with Cirque Du Soleil

Amaluna Cirque Du Soleil

Cirque Du Soleil’s Amaluna debuts in Houston, Texas from February 12-March 22, 2015.  Immersed in a blue-green oasis of tranquility, you feel like you are in a mystical, surreal rainforest surrounded by mythically acrobatic creatures. Etherial music lulls the audience into a state of mesmerization in the midst of a peacock feather forest.  World-class performers bend, twist and turn their bodies with effervescent grace and mind-defying stunts.

Cirque delivers a “best of the best” performance.  It is a wondrous experience for the whole family.  We highly recommend it.

Rating: Five stars!  Best!

Find out more here at www.cirquedusoleil.com.

Madame Butterfly with Houston Grand Opera

Houston Grand Opera gives a stunning performance of Madame Butterfly. Madame Butterfly is a heartrending tale of a forlorn Japanese wife whose carousing naval husband returns to the U.S. and marries another. Puccini’s score poignantly punctuates the story.
Cio-Cio-San is played by Ana Maria Martinez, who delivers a stunning performance. Many viewers have said this is the best rendition of Madame Butterfly they have ever seen.

Madame Butterfly plays at Houston Grand Opera from January 23-February 8, 2015. Visit www.houstongrandopera.org for more details.

Rating: 5-star Best!

Houston Nutcracker Ballet

HOUSTON, TEXAS – From November 28 – December 28, 2014, Houston Ballet celebrates the holidays with Ben Stevenson’s breathtaking production of The Nutcracker, seen by over 1,000,000 people since its premiere 27 years ago. The beloved ballet tells the story of a little girl named Clara who is given a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve. She encounters the frightful King Rat before embarking on a wondrous journey through the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Young and old alike will experience the many special effects, including the Christmas tree which “grows” to 40 feet, 200 pounds of “snow” falling during the snow scene, and the firing of cannon onstage. Houston Ballet will give 35 performances of The Nutcracker, to a live orchestra, in the Brown Theater at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston. Tickets may be purchased by calling 713-227-2787 or logging on to www.houstonballet.org.

Houston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker has been hailed by the Houston Chronicle as “the crown jewel of holiday entertainment.” Lee Williams of the Houston Press called Houston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, “ Gorgeous . . . Desmond Heeley’s sets and costumes are reason enough to see this show . . . The Nutcracker reminds us that the holidays have always been a time of dreams, and with productions as yummy as this, sleeping never seemed so sweet.”

For over one hundred years, the story of the ballet has proven irresistible to both children and adults alike. Set in nineteenth-century Germany, the ballet opens at a Christmas party at which the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer gives his little niece Clara a magical toy that takes her on an unforgettable journey. From the battle scene between the Rat King and the Nutcracker in the first act to the cooks who fly magically through the air in the second act, The Nutcracker is sure to enchant audiences of all ages.

Tickets are available at a discount for select performances of The Nutcracker, including evening performances on opening night Friday, November 28; Saturday, November 29; Sunday, November 30; Sunday, December 7; Friday, December 12; Tuesday, December 16; Wednesday, December 17; Thursday, December 18; and Sunday, December 28.

Houston Ballet Participates in a Dancer Exchange With
The Australian Ballet This Holiday Season

This season Houston Ballet participates in a dancer exchange with The Australian Ballet. Houston Ballet Principal Dancers Karina Gonzalez and Connor Walsh will travel to Sydney to perform in Stanton Welch’s La Bayadère on Monday, November 17 and Friday, November 21. In exchange, The Australian Ballet Principal Artists Leanne Stojmenov and Daniel Gaudiello will travel to Houston to give three special performances as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince in The Nutcracker. They will perform on Sunday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Critics have praised the chemistry and ease displayed between Ms. Stojmenov and Mr. Gaudiello in performances. Writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, dance critic Jill Sykes commented, “[Leanne Stojmenov and Daniel Gaudiello] demonstrate their lyrical and technical skills with some demanding and effective partnering.” (December 2, 2013). Rain Williams of Dance Informa called their dancing “marvelous.” (September 2, 2013).

A native of Perth, Australia, Ms. Stojmenov trained full-time at the Graduate College before joining the West Australian Ballet. In 2001, she joined The Australian Ballet and in 2004 she was the recipient of the New South Wales Friends of The Australian Ballet scholarship which enabled her to study throughout Europe. She later achieved the rank of principal artists at The Australian Ballet in 2011.

Mr. Gaudiello is a native of Brisbane, Australia and began dancing at the age of six. Later, he attended the Queensland Dance School of Excellence and Queensland Ballet professional year, before joining The Australian Ballet School. While there, he participated as an exchange student with The National Ballet School of Canada and the School of American Ballet. In 2004, Mr. Gaudiello joined The Australian Ballet, where he was promoted to principal artist in 2010.

First soloists Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews will give their first performances as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince in Ben Stevenson’s staging of The Nutcracker. (They previously danced the lead roles in Alexei Ratmansky’s version of The Nutcracker at American Ballet Theater.) Corps de Ballet member Madeline Skelly will debut as the Snow Queen.

The role of the Sugar Plum Fairy will also be danced by principals Karina Gonzalez, Melody Mennite, Sara Webb; first soloist Katharine Precourt; and soloists Soo Youn Cho, Nozomi Iijima, Nao Kusuzaki, Allison Miller, and Lauren Strongin. Ms. Kajiya, Ms. Precourt, Ms. Cho, Ms. Iijima, Ms. Kusuzaki, Ms. Miller, and Ms. Strongin, will also dance the Snow Queen role in addition to first soloist Jessica Collado. The Prince will also be danced by principals Simon Ball, Ian Casady, and Connor Walsh; first soloist Linnar Looris; soloists James Gotesky, Oliver Halkowich, Aaron Robison, and Charles-Louis Yoshiyama; and Corps de Ballet member Aaron Sharratt.

The Houston Girls Chorus (HGC), a program of American Festival for the Arts, will join Houston Ballet Orchestra as part of Houston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker for 21 performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 28; Saturday, November 29; Saturday, December 6; Friday, December 12; Saturday, December 13; Friday, December 19; Saturday, December 20; Monday, December 22; Tuesday, December 23; Friday, December 26; Saturday, December 27; Sunday, December 28 and at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 29; Sunday, November 30; Saturday, December 6; Sunday, December 7; Saturday, December 13; Sunday; December 14; Saturday, December 20; Sunday, December 21; and Sunday, December 28. HGC will sing Waltz of the Snowflakes, the chorus part Tchaikovsky wrote for the iconic snow scene in the ballet.

The Nutcracker has a special place in Houston Ballet’s history as the first full-length work to enter Houston Ballet’s repertoire in a staging by Frederic Franklin, featuring scenery and costumes by the English designer Peter Farmer. The company gave six performances of The Nutcracker in 1972 at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, and has danced the work each December without fail for the following 42 years. In 1976, Houston Ballet presented the production with revised choreography by the company’s new artistic director Ben Stevenson. In 1987, the current production with designs by Desmond Heeley, lighting by Duane Schuler, and choreography by Mr. Stevenson was unveiled to a glowing critical response.

Today, the company gives 35 performances of The Nutcracker at Wortham Theater Center, and the production plays a key role in Houston Ballet’s financial picture, drawing 69,776 (as of December 2013) theatergoers to Houston’s Theater District and bringing in over $4 million in revenue in 2013.

Houston Ballet’s performances of The Nutcracker are generously underwritten by United, Apache Corporation, Houston Methodist, Shell Oil Company, Baker Botts L.L.P, and Macy’s.

The Story of The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker tells the story of Clara and her magical nutcracker doll. One Christmas Eve, the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer arrives at the Stahlbaum family’s Christmas party and presents Clara with a special gift: a wooden nutcracker. After the party, as the clock strikes midnight, Clara awakens to find the room filled with giant mice. The nutcracker comes to her rescue and a fierce battle ensues as the nutcracker leads the toy soldiers against the mice and their leader, King Rat. The nutcracker overcomes King Rat, and then is transformed into a handsome prince who takes Clara on a magical journey.

To the delight of Clara and the audience, the evening is filled with dance. The Snow Queen leads eighteen snowflakes in a brilliant waltz in the Land of Snow, where the trees are laden with icicles. Then the Nutcracker Prince takes Clara on a boat ride across the Lemonade Sea to the Kingdom of Sweets where they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Sugar Plum Fairy treats Clara to sweets and entertainment provided by the inhabitants of the kingdom: chocolate, a Spanish dance; coffee, an Arabian dance; and tea, a Chinese dance. Next comes the comical Madame Bonbonaire whose huge skirt is filled with tiny clowns. Then there is the Russian dance and the Waltz of the Flowers. Finally, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker Prince dance a grand pas de deux. As the celebration draws to a close, Clara becomes sleepy. She awakens back in her bed, as the nutcracker salutes his little princess Clara.

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HOUSTON BALLET’S
THE NUTCRACKER
FACT SHEET

WHAT: THE NUTCRACKER (1987)
Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Choreography by Ben Stevenson, O.B.E.
Scenic and Costume Designs by Desmond Heeley
Original Lighting Design by Duane Schuler
Recreated Lighting Design by Christina R. Giannelli

Houston Ballet Orchestra Conducted by Ermanno Florio, Craig Kier, Ned Battista, David LaMarche

Houston Girls Chorus directed by Kimberly Tobola,
A program of American Festival of the Arts, Michael Remson, Executive Director

Generously underwritten by: United, Apache Corporation, Houston Methodist, Shell Oil Company, Baker Botts L.L.P, and Macy’s.

ABOUT THE
PROGRAM:
A little girl named Clara receives a magical nutcracker on Christmas Eve, and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Featuring breathtaking scenery and costumes by Tony Award-winning designer Desmond Heeley, The Nutcracker is the perfect yuletide gift: the ideal means of introducing children to the power and beauty of classical dance, and a delightful way for the entire family to ring in the holiday season.

WHEN: November 28 – December 28, 2014

At 7:30 p.m. November 28*, 29*, 30*
and December 6,7*, 12*, 13, 14, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28*

At 2:00 p.m. on November 29, 30
and December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28
* Indicates discounted performance.

WHERE: Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center
501 Texas Avenue in downtown Houston

TICKETS: $19 – $135. For tickets call (713) 227 2787 or 1 800 828 ARTS.
Tickets are also available at www.houstonballet.org and Houston Ballet Box Office at Wortham Theater Center.

Late Nite Catechism at Stage’s Theatre Houston 2014

Sister’s Christmas Catechism:
The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold
by Maripat Donovan, with Jane Morris & Marc Silva


Denise Fennel returns as Sister

Photo by Claire Logue

Performance Dates: November 12 – December 28, 2014
Performance Times: Wednesdays & Thursdays 7:30p, Fridays 8:00p, Saturdays 3:00p & 8:00p, Sundays 3:00p & 7:30p
Location: Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway
Run Time: This show is approximately 2 hours long including one fifteen-minute intermission.
Tickets: $21 – $65
To Purchase: 713.527.0123 or www.stagestheatre.com

Before tackling the iconic one woman show The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life of the Universe at Stages in January, Denise Fennell returns for the holidays as Houston’s favorite nun – Sister, in Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold!

Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold is the third installment to be released in the Catechism series, and this is the second time Stages has produced this highly successful holiday sequel. Stages also has produced Late Nite Catechism; Sister’s Back: Late Nite Catechism 2; Late Nite Catechism 3: Till Death Do Us Part; Sister’s Easter Catechism: Will My Bunny Go to Heaven?; andLate Nite Catechism Las Vegas: Sister Rolls the Dice!


Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold
by Maripat Donovan, with Jane Morris & Marc Silva

Denise Fennell returns as Sister in this holiday mystery extravaganza! It’s CSI goes to Bethlehem as Sister takes on the mystery that has intrigued historians throughout the ages: On the night of that famous holy birth, what happened to the Magi’s gold? Forensic tools in hand, and assisted by a helpful flock of audience members, Sister hunts over manger and under camel hump in her relentless search for the culprit. Along the way, she gives her class a history lesson on the origin of nativity sets, provides line-by-line analysis of favorite Christmas carols, and creates a living nativity unlike any you’ve ever seen. With bundles of laughs, musical highlights, and wacky gifts galore, Sister’s Christmas Catechism is just the ticket for the holidays!

November 12 – December 28, 2014

Meet Denise!

DENISE (MARIE CHRISTINA) FENNELL Denise is originally from Boston, MA, where she grew up in a very strict Italian Catholic neighborhood, often attending mass with her Grandma Bianca on a daily basis. Denise currently calls both Los Angeles and New York City home. Some may recognize Denise from Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding, in which she frequently appears in the title role of Tina. Maripat Donovan discovered Denise as Tina in her white wedding dress, blue eye shadow and her hair sprayed so high it almost reached heaven. Maripat apparently saw something that led her to believe there was a nun lurking somewhere behind the gum chewing, wise-cracking bride. All kidding aside, Denise would like to thank Maripat for believing in her and for being patient while Denise took the time to believe in herself. It is with great honor that she trades her wedding dress in for a habit, and instead of Tony chooses to marry God.

Carmen at Houston Grand Opera

When Georges Bizet composed the music for his opera, Carmen in 1874, he had no idea that it would become one of the world’s most famous operas. As a matter of fact, he considered it to be a flop. Yet it is one of the most dynamic operas ever written. Houston Grand Opera does a great job continuing the brilliant legacy of this ageless story with its presentation of Carmen.

Ana Maria Martinez, the soprano who sings the part of Carmen, was the perfect choice. She is sexy, coy, alluring, flirtatious, manipulative, beautiful, and can sing and dance to perfection. It is no wonder that all of the men in the cast longed for her attention.

Both Brandon Jovanovich singing tenor, Don Jose, her lover, and Ryan McKinny, singing base-baritone, Escamillo, bullfighter and second lover, provided outstanding performances, with McKinny’s rendition of the enduring “toreador song” especially memorable.

An added bonus was the choreography provided by the Houston Ballet. The dancing contributed to the action throughout the opera with the elegant costumes and graceful movement of the dancers.

The opera is a “must see.”

Rating: 5 stars! Best!

Rigoletto – Houston Grand Opera

“Rigoletto” may have been an inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock with its twist ending. The evolving story of an elegant duke with his uncontrollable sexual appetite and the court jester with his beautiful sheltered and untouched daughter provides just the type of plot and ending that made Hitchcock famous one hundred and fifty years later.
What Hitchcock did with lights and cameras, the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi was able to present with music and theatrical effects without the benefit of modern technology.

“Rigoletto”, performed by Houston Grand Opera is opera at its finest. The intricate set and costumes, combined with the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra’s presentation of his music would have made Verdi very pleased to play in Houston. Soprano, Elizabeth Zharoff, appearing as Gilda, Rigoletto’s daughter, and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny, Rigoletto, sang together with a blending of voices that was exquisite.

The standing ovation at the end was proof that the entire performance was extremely pleasurable and one that should not be missed.

Rigoletto plays Jan. 24-Feb. 9th, 2014 at the Wortham Theater. For more information, visit www.houstongrandopera.org/rigoletto