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6 Reasons Why Everyone Should Experience ‘The Nutcracker’ This Philly Holiday Season

Oh, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker..….where do we truly begin? 

How about with right around this time tomorrow night (and through New Year’s Eve!) that magnificent curtain will rise up at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music and give way to what’s sure to be another annual dazzling display of this acclaimed production presented by the astounding, Pennsylvania Ballet

While the reasons listed below are served up as a fine case as to why kids from one-to-ninety-two should experience the magic of lots (and lots!) of sugarplums dancing around their heads all month long thanks to this beacon of a show, but what it truly comes down to are four little-yet-gigantic words….

………support the local arts! Because it all truly doesn’t get any better or magical than what you’re about to get lost in when The Nutcracker takes over our Philly holiday lives once again.Ready? 

Oh, and here’s a few more words…..get those tickets. But first, a delightful, tip-toeing journey through all of the reasons why you absolutely should. 

1.It’s a delightful holiday tale as old as time…..     Considered the most famous stage take of Tchaikovsky‘s historic 1892 ballet, this version ofThe Nutcracker also adapts the story of E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which you can actually show to the kids right here before you go! While the equally legendary Mikhail Baryshnikov‘s production is the most recognized television version (really, how can we ever forget?), it is Mr. George Balanchine’s story that has not only been taking over stages (and selling out the holiday box office) for nearly 65 years, but will always be thought of as a groundbreaking production that made ballet famous in America. And it’s for that very reason that we must show our respect, lace up those slippers and tip-toe right to those glistening tickets. 

2.All of the incredible local talent on fine display….  While it’s easy to go on-and-on about just how incredible the Pennsylvania Ballet will always be (those incredible kids work really, really hard, folks), it’s better to just get to know it all right now by gliding to their official website right here. And once you’ve entered the land of extraordinary wonder, you’ll be able to meet the Ballet, see how their spreading the Love throughout the community, find out about future spectacular events, and of course, you’ll get all access to tickets for ‘The Nutcracker.’ There’s nothing more to say here except attack it like you’re Natalie Portman in ‘Black Swan.’ Go. 

3.It’s a must to keep those Philly holiday traditions alive and glowing….    Macy’s Light Show.…the Christmas Village……going to all 75 tree lightings around the city…..Miracle on 13th Street….the ice skating (and carousel!!) at City Hall, and of course, The Nutcracker. Yes, these are all delightfully frosty Philly holiday traditions that have kept alive and glowing all of these years. And you know why? Because us Philadelphians know how to do it holiday-style. So, if you haven’t checked your tradition list twice yet, now is the time, because, you-know-who is watchin’ and makin’ sure you and the whole phamily do it all this year and have the best holiday yet. 

4.It’s a fantastic way to expose your little loved ones to the arts…..  Oh, the holidays. A time when young ones’ minds are at their very inquisitive and you may hear such questions as….what time is Santa coming? Why is Rudolph’s nose so bright? Where do babies come from? How would you like not to answer that not-so-elusive third question, well, at least until January, hopefully. Take them to The Nutcracker and they’ll be so immersed in everything that’s going on in front of them (the dancing! the prancing! the stage! the lights!) that it will take their young minds away from that question and straight into an obsessed world of every sensation of the arts. And if you’re really lucky, maybe they’ll take one of the many aspects of this show and roll with it to see what happens in the future. Now, that’s the true magic of the holiday season. 

5.Speaking of the Arts one more time…….So, there’s this thing happening….perhaps you’ve heard….schools across the country are cutting funding to arts programs..yes, clutch those pearls because it’s true. And guess what? It must be stopped right this very moment as young ones will lose their escape from, well, it all. While we may not be able to change what’s already been done, we can still show just how important the arts are for everyone, everywhere and the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of this enchanting tale is as fine of a local arts fever as you’re going to get. So, let’s show them we mean business and get out there and support those arts! Besides, GQ just named Philly the City of the Year.…let’s keep the vibes up, shall we? Yes. 

6.Because it’s been a year for us all…    One last sip of holiday tea…let’s talk about 2018. Okay, enough about that…it’s time to get those tickets because if you’re looking for one last escape and capture a truly unforgettable moment as we close out this year, it’s certainly right here. Happy holidays, everyone…and may you dance into the night like nobody’s watching all season long and beyond. 

Cover photo by Pennsylvania Ballet. Media clips courtesy of YouTube, CBS3 and Pennsylvania Ballet. 

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10 Non-Holiday Records to Help Chill You Out this Holiday Season

Oh, it’s the most wonderful….and stressful time of the year. 

Admit it, while you’d like everything to be picture perfect every holiday season, there’s indeed moments where you……just want to cut an elf. 

We’re only human, right? It’s only natural to get a touch angst-y when driving around the mall for thirty minutes looking for a parking space. And you might have a bout of angered heat stroke because this is the time of year where every store feels like a million degrees and this long ass line you’re in sure isn’t helping anything.

And wait, there’s how many dogs on my shopping list this year?? Da f@#k? 

Yes, it all gets a little too extra this time of year. And while the jinglin’ beats of Mariah, Bing and Britney (plus trillions more) surely get the job done when it’s time feel all festive and stuff, they tend to have less an effect when you’re having a nervous breakdown in the middle of the Target parking lot. 

With that being said, it’s time to take a big ol’ seat (hey, it’s been a year..we all deserve it), kick back, take a sip, take a puff, and let the blissful non-jinglin’ sounds of Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light,’ Pure Moods, Jody Watley, Gorgon City, Miguel Migs, Bonnie Raitt, Fleetwood Mac, Sade, and the late, and still very great, Ms. Aaliyah help you get back to the true meaning of the spirit of the holidays. 

And searching high and low to find that perfect gift your co-worker’s Pomeranian isn’t it. No shade, Linda, no shade. 

Happy relaxing!! 

Aaliyah/All of Them While we may never know just where Ms. Aaliyah would be in her career if she were still with us today (anyone else ponder that thought, like, all of the time??), what we do know is that her precious catalog will always be the de-stressful gift that keeps on giving year after year. There’s simply no denying that the late diva’s hits like, “Back & Forth,” “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number,” “Try Again,” “One in a Million,” “More than a Woman” and “Rock the Boat,” (just to name a delightful few) will always contain those special vibes to help us take a seat when it all gets a little too “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” this time of year. Plus, each one of ‘Liyah’s grooves reserve a certain type of sexy flair that’s still just so fly…not even your grandma can deny it.  Truth. Rest in Peace, Ms. Aaliyah.

Best of Pure Moods  Imagine a world where we couldn’t escape our troubles and sail away with the worlds greatest Celtic Diva, Ms. Enya? Yes, clutch those pearls because…..it would be like December without Christmas….truly shudder to think. And when you take a select few of her greatest sonnets and pair them up with the life brightening/pondering/wondering/living sounds and beats of DJ Dado (hey, ‘X Files’ theme), Enigma, Kenny G(!!), Robert Miles and David Byrne, among many others, well, you get one of the best damn reasons to actually have stress during the holidays. And bonus points if you remember those Time Life infomercials at your 2 a.m. drunk time in the late ’90s. Really, how can we ever, ever forget? But luckily for all of us, this compilation still has it and serves it out of the runway of this thing we call…life. Or is it? Either way, Pure Moods will always take us…there. 

 

Madonna/’Ray of Light’   First, it must be noted that Ms. Madge’s magnificent post-Lourdes outing turned twenty this year, so global respect must be paid. Second, well, that pretty much sums it all up as this record still holds to the key to the power of you just chillin’ the f@ck out this month. Whether it’s the soft, layered vocals delivered by the Kabbalah-worthy Material Girl on every track, or the spiritually charged production whirl of Ray beat master, William Orbit, there’s not a Scrooge in the world who won’t check themselves when it comes to this album…and yes, that means you. So, step into the Light because it’s gettin’ a bit stressful out there, and even if it’s not…do it. Your red stringed aura will thank you. 

Bonnie Raitt/Luck of the Draw  Yes, go ahead…get a little tipsy at the work holiday party and belt out “Can’t Make You Love Me” because he/she just broke up with you a few weeks before the holidays and it’s truly the only way to ease the pain without doing something to getting arrested/and/or get a restraining order. Hey, it’s the holidays, a touch of break up angst is bound to happen for some. But for those who may not be living the life of one of the most heartbreaking/real tracks ever recorded, the rest of the legendary Ms. Raitt’s 1990 breakthrough record has a little something for everybody and it will give them something to talk about…the days when music sounded as pure and smooth as this. Prepare to float and leave those December worries/that dreadful ex behind courtesy of everyone’s favorite Bonnie. 

Gorgon City/’Sirens’/’Escape’  Since it’s an unwritten rule that there’s absolutely no stress allowed on the dance floor at any times, let UK beat maestros Gorgon City take you well away from the ugh of it all and lead you under those shiny disco balls all holiday season long and beyond with their collection of werk. From hard-hitting romps (“Ready For Your Love,” “Go Deep,” “Kingdom”) to bubbly life-isms (“Night Drive,” “Here For You,” “All Four Walls”) to wondering if you’re going to snatch that Tinder/Grindr date just in time for the holidays (“Lover Like You”), Gorgon City has got a beat to get down to for you and yours..right now. So, drop that list and slowly step away from that mile-long gift wrapping line, these therapeutic grooves are calling you and it’s time to go..deep into the dancefloor. Yes. And bonus points if you request (be good to those DJs, y’all) GC’s JHud collaboration, “Go All Night,” at your holiday office party…that employee of the month spot is as good as yours. 

Miguel Migs/’Outside the Skyline’/’Dim Division’   After you’re done sweatin’ out the stress thanks to the power of all of it provided by Gorgon City, take a seat to a serving of an even deeper life whirled up by San Francisco dance mogul, Miguel Migs. With each slow, steady breath of each one of the tracks on not one, but two of his sensational full length sets, it’s almost a guarantee that not only will you be brought back to life after the six-hour shopping excursion you just put yourself through, but you might just become a better person and feel bad about throwing shade to that Salvation Army Santa..maybe..probably not. But either way, you’ll get to the know the names Lisa Shaw and Meshell N’degeocello and all shade and hate will be cast aside. It’s that powerful…it’s deep house, kids, and it can truly lead to holiday miracles. Listen up. 

Fleetwood Mac/Greatest Hits While any one of the legendary rockers’ studio sets are guaranteed to give you and your silk scarves a night of twirlin’ like nobody’s watchin,’ their greatest hits collection is where it’s at when you need to unwind from the holiday madness–“Rhiannon,” “Gypsy,” “Little Lies,” “Hold Me,” “Dreams,” “Everywhere.” They’re all blissfully right here. And even if you want to use “Don’t Stop” as your last-minute shopping anthem, it’s all good as long as these undeniable grooves are contentedly filling your stocking…of life. Ready, set, twirl. And who’s ready to see them take over Wells Fargo Center on April 5th? Everyone and their AHS lovin’ mother. 

Sade/Greatest Hits   Sorry, there’s just nothing to say here because silence is preferred when it comes to getting lost in every single of these life-altering numbers. “Hang on to Your Love,” “No Ordinary Love,” ‘The Sweetest Taboo,” ‘Soldier of Love,” Smooth Operator.” Yes, yes and ahhhh. But you see, what it really comes down to….is that if you don’t feel just a tinge of reinvented well-being when taking in Sade’s greatest grooves, then you really are The Grinch…really. 

Jody Watley/’Paradise’   While indeed it’s absolutely necessary to let that perm down and cut a rug to any one of Ms. Watley’s late ’80s/early ’90s treasures (“Don’t You Want Me”…yes), there’s just something special about her 2014 set as it’s laced with any kind of vibe you could ever want to fall into. Because you know what they say, a little disco(“Nightlife”), a little funk (“The Dawn”), and a little diva makes everything nice. But perhaps it’s stated best in closer, “Sanctuary” with the line, “De-stress, unwind…cherish the time,” as that what’s it’s truly about this time of year…not your panicked state. So, calm down and..enjoy your damn life. This album will certainly help, and it’s Ms. Watley we’re reveling in, so immediate respect must be paid. 

Your Very Own….Since this time of year is all about using your imagination, close your eyes and let the stress of the holiday season lead you miles away from the nearest elf. Because sometimes it’s not all Mariah, candy canes and Santa’s lap, and it’s all good.

Have a happy, healthy and (slightly) stress free holiday, everyone!! 

Cover photo courtesy of Sade and, like, life and stuff. 

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Weekly Entertainment Groove

Never mind fighting for that parking space at the mall or trying to figure out just what to get that bratty kid on your list….

….the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House is now open for all of our local and legendary entertainment business! 

Plus, we’ve also got to figure out just how we’re going to do everything else on this week’s list…there’s only way one to find out….guide that sleigh into it all. 

Go. 

The Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House  Yes, the rumors are true…..there’s only twenty-two shopping days left until Christmas! Eeek! But besides that drama….yes, the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House (aka..The Met) is opening its doors tonight, with the one, the only, Mr. Bob Dylan being the one to christen the brand spankin’ new Philly venue. While we could go on and on about the building’s long construction process and just what a spectacular entertainment beacon it now truly will be (go right here for all of the tea on the big D’s), let’s just see who else is stopping by for the grand opening celebrations…John Legend (tomorrow!), Mariah, the acclaimed cast of Schitt’s Creek(!!!!!), Trevor Noah, Meek Mill and Bill & Hillary Clinton..perhaps you’ve heard of them? But what it really comes down to is…The Met is now open for business in taking all of your hard earned green for those tickets…and we simply can’t wait. 

The Grinch  Move over, Mariah?? Yes, it looks like there’s a new(ish) holiday champion this year. Not only is the beloved “tiny-hearted” titular character of Dr. Seuss’ magical holiday story taking, err, earning lots of green at the movie box office, but he’s looking to steal your heart this Philly holiday season! For ten enchanted nights (Dec 19th-Dec 29th) the traveling national production of ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas‘ is taking over the Merriam Theater! So, never mind stressing about what gift to surprise the whole entire family with, because it’s right here…and it’s a guarantee that they’ll love ya forever! But, like the last can of Who Hash, those tickets will fly away quickly, so don’t you be a Grinch in waiting too long to bag them up right here!

Matilda:The Musical/Walnut Street Theatre  It’s official…no one in Philly is going to be able to escape the cherished legacy of Roald Dahl this holiday season…but then again, why would you want to? Yes, another one of the cherished author’s beloved stories has just come to life (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory just ended its two-week run last month), this time on the Walnut Street Theatre stage…all the way through January! So, grab the kids (and grandma, too!) and grab your tickets to once again revel in all of the magical shenanigans that lil’ Ms. Matilda and her classmates will be up to…and chances are, you’ll absolutely live for every moment of it. Fly away right here for much more info. Now-Sunday, January 6th 

Charlotte’s Web Now, what could be better than a talented cast of teens taking the stage for a fabulous adaptation of everyone’s favorite children’s book? Maybe if puppies and kittens were doing it, but since we know that can’t happen (maybe?), this is the absolute next greatest thing. So, get those tickets and head on over to The Arden Theatre Company (right in the glory of Old City) to get your holiday season started off in the most spectacular way possible. Plus, wait until you see Ms. Charlotte (the amazing, Anaya Strutz) in all of her Cirque-inspired action. The show runs through January 27th and tickets are going fast, but don’t panic because you can get them right here, right now! 

A Philly Pops Christmas/Verizon Hall @Kimmel Center Get ready….because the Pops are back! And without a doubt, it’s the one thing you must do this season before any festivities begin as it’s a beloved tradition that just exemplifies the true meaning of the holidays…incredible music! So, waste no time in getting those tickets, plus the Pops will be joined this season by Hamilton:An American Musical‘s star Mandy Gonzalez, so you already know this year’s holiday-stravaganza is going to be extra merry and bright. Shows are going on right now and run through Sat, Dec 22nd…get those tickets! 

Sing Your Life Karaoke  Whether during the hustle-and-bustle of your week or the slay of your weekend, the always lovely Ms. Sara Sherr (treat her right this holiday season, kids) has got your vocal chords covered like a light snow on the ground thanks to her always on-point Sing Your Life Karaoke collection. And as always, it’ll be rightfully serving Philly at each of these fabulous locations listed below all holiday season long. Ready, set, sang and be merry! Sun/9-2 Bob and Barbara’s, Tues/9-2 12 Steps Down Thurs/9-2/Milkboy South Street Fri/9-1 Southhouse Saturday/9-1:45 Les & Doreen’s Happy Tap   

SLEIGH/Valanni Social Get ready to sleigh like you have never slayed before, kids, kweens, guys and gurrrls. Yes, Valanni Social’s annual Toys for Tots fundraiser is making its grand return this Thursday night (you betta bring that one unwrapped toy for the kids)and this year, it’s looking to be extra merry and oh, so, gay! Perhaps it’s also lookin’ to add a pinch of delightful cray-ziness, too, as reigning Delco goddess, Aunt Mary Pat, will be your hostess for the evening! All while special guests, Elf-on-a-Shelf(aka..Ms. Bev) and Mr Alexander John, whom will be serving…it all, will be stopping by to add to the fun. So, come one, come all and bring those holiday flavored vibes….it’s really just that simple. Sounds, fabulous, right? Go…and get those tickets right here. (Thursday/9 pm-2 am

Bob & Barbara’s Thursdays Because we must always pay our respects to Philadelphia’s longest running drag show, especially when local goddesses Donna Ria, Sandy Beach and Hennestacia Beach are at the helm this week. And you betta tip a hard-working queen and always show your Brotherly and Sisterly love to your gracious host, Ms. Lisa Lisa. The fun kicks off every Thursday at 9 pm….you know the place. 

Mumford & Sons/Wells Fargo Center You know what they say…it’s not a hoedown unless it’s a Mumford style holiday hoedown, so giddy on up right here for those tickets while you still can. Plus, there’s a guarantee that you’ll really make someone’s day if you give them the Mumford experience as an early Christmas present. (Friday/730 pm

And for your 2018 holiday pleasure……

…….the Philly Christmas Village is back with a giant gift….literally. This year, the beloved Philly tradition returns to a newly renovated LOVE Park (and a big ol’, lit up present right in the middle-of-it-all!) for its 11th season to put us all in the mood for the upcoming delightful madness of the holiday season….yes. Today through Monday, December 24th, be on the lookout for all of the usual holiday sights, sounds, creations, treats, and of course, lots of eats! Happy holidaze, Philly! Go right here for much more Philly holiday tea.….and don’t forget about the ice skating in front of City Hall!! 

Oh, yes, there’s just one more glistening thing we must mention…..and as usual, it’s superb for all of us kids one-to-ninety-two…..the Macy’s Christmas Light Show has also made its grand return! All you and the phamily have to do is show up at the Grand Court atrium at Macy’s Center City (look for the big ol’ Wannamaker Organ) kicking off at 10 a.m. every two hours until 8 pm through Monday, December 31st! It’s just that easy to get lost in the lights and the magic of the 2018 holiday season. For much more hot and piping Macy’s tea (wait until you see this year’s third floor theme), check your bags right here. 

Also on the local and legendary holiday entertainment tree for your….

Monday/December 3rd  

Chanukah@Boathouse Row(6 pm)……..Spotlight Cabaret@The Drake Theatre(7 pm)………Arlie@Johnny Brenda’s(8 pm)…………Plattenbau@Kung Fu Necktie(9 pm)………The Philadelphia Moth Storyslam @World Cafe Live(730 pm)……..Trivia w/Chris Balbi@Boxers PhL 

Tuesday/December 4th    

Cloud Nothings @ Union Transfer(730 pm)……….Dayne Jordan@Bourbon & Branch(8 pm)……..West Philadelphia Orchestra@Franky Bradley’s(9 pm)………Ted Bowne@The Foundry(8 pm)……….Parker Gispert@Boot & Saddle(8 pm)……….Mum’s the Word @Kung Fu Necktie(8 pm)…….Eric Rachmany@The Fillmore……Penn Club Holiday Party@City Tap House Logan Square(630 pm)……….

Wednesday/December 5th 

Donny & Marie Holiday Tour @Sands Bethlehem Entertainment Center(7 pm)………(Sold out!!) Q102 Jingle Ball @Wells Fargo Center(7 pm)……….mewithoutyou@TLA(8 pm)……….Wild Child@Union Transfer(8 pm)…………….Marissa Nadler@Boot & Saddle(730 pm)……..Helena Deland@Johnny Brenda’s(8 pm)………Dentana@The Dolphin Tavern(10 pm)……..

Thursday/December 6th  

QOTA Under the Trees@East Passyunk Avenue(6 pm)……….Johnny Showcase @Franky Bradley’s(9 pm)………Paula’s Drag Kitchen @L’Etage(8 pm)………..Nicky Romero@NOTO(midnight)…………Amber Run@The Foundry(8 pm)…………Rick Springfiekd@Xcite Center@Parx Casino(7 pm)………Blackberry Smoke@The Fillmore(730 pm)……..Polo & Pan @Union Transfer(830 pm)……..Exmag@Milkboy Philly(8 pm)……..Donald Robinson@South Jazz Club(7 pm)…….Siv Disa@Bourbon & Branch(8 pm)……..

Friday/December 7th 

Lots of fabulous dancing @Woody’s, Tavern on Camac, Tabu and Voyeur(10 pm, Gayborhood)……….RuPauls’s Drag Race Holi-slay Spectacular@Boxers PHL(8 pm)…..Jazz at the Library Bar@Rittennhouse Hotel(930 pm)…….Rhythm of the Night @The Dolphin Tavern(10 pm)………Rufus Wainwright@Keswick Theatre(8 pm)……Jewel@Sands Bethlehem Entertainment Center(8 pm)……..Bangarang @Liason Room(10 pm)……..Old 97’s @TLA(9 pm)………..The Ballroom Thieves@Johnny Brenda’s(7 pm)………4B@NOTO(10 pm)………Marah@Underground Arts(9 pm)……….Cave@Kung Fu Necktie(730 pm)

 

Cover photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House