Harrietts Book Store

 People say that book stores are no longer necessary due to eBooks, E-readers, etc. Content a lot of it anyway can be found online. I beg to differ. I was told the same thing when I started blogging. I was told it was a completely saturated field and people only wanted to influence aka be online and take pictures. Thank goodness Jeannine didn’t listen the naysayers.

Comfort place

Bookstores are my number one place that I personally go to get centered, get some quiet, have peace, sometimes create, and to unwind from stress. Its always been my number one go to growing up. If I said I needed to go to my retreat a lot of close family and friends knew I was headed to the bookstore where I would spend literally hours just escaping and having the time of my life. I have always been an avid reader. I was in my car and I saw a post about Harriett’s Bookstore. I was shocked. There was a new and even Black woman owned bookstore in Philadelphia and I wasn’t aware of it? The sheer excitement came over me. I immediately contacted Jeannine so I could come and interview her and check out the space.

My firsts impression was that it’s a beautifully aesthetic. The vibe is absolutely perfect. Jeannine greeted me with a smile, incense burning, quiet, and breathtaking. I felt at home, loved, and honored just to walk into the store. When I tell you how much peace is felt I can’t describe it. Its like being at a family member’s home who you trust who also makes the best comfort food. What I love about it is you are surrounded by books and artist who are women. Women who may or may not have a large following but are dedicated to their craft. Jeannine wanted to give space to the underdogs. One of the best ways you can support women is by giving them space to be the artist that they are. Support by buying their pieces.  Support by rallying behind them and that is exactly what Jeannine is doing.

Why Harrietts?!

I asked her why the name Harriett. She let me know that she spells the traditional Harriet with two T’s. It is to honor Harriet Tubman. As a child she felt drawn to her spirit.  When she was younger her and her sisters did a resurrection of the ancestors as a piece and she choose Harriet Tubman. Jeannine is an educator as well as a writer and a creative. She wrote a piece from the perspective of what Harriet Tubman would be saying if she was whispering in her ear, “It’s me they follow, it’s me they follow.” This piece also was taken, and an artist made it into an interpretive dance almost 10 years ago. Harriet Tubman took Courage in stepping out and helping to free slaves and Jeannine is using the same courage to step out and do what others said she couldn’t, open a book store and make it a community hub.

She recalls writing an email to her sister complaining about this idea of a book store and her sister resent her an email that she had sent with the same complaint. It was like a gut punch to the chest. Here she was in the same space with this burning idea and she had not brought it to fruition. Ideas never die. They simply wait for you to breath life into them. Jeannine knew what she had to do but how could she remain fiscally responsible being a single mother and leap into her dream? “Once you commit to a dream nothing can stop it” and that’s what Jeannine did.

Local artist Ivy the Vine

Courage

We see the things that Harriet Tubman did. Did that mean she did them without fear? No. Courage is walking in the face of fear knowing that you are prepared to do whatever it takes to see something through. Interesting enough Jeannine mother is blind. She grew up in times where her mother would either have limited sight or no sight at all yet in still, she traveled the world and took care of others. Do you not see the strength that Jeannine comes from? Oh, and if that isn’t enough to just channel the spirit of Harriet, Jeannine’s mother parent name was Courage. It all ties into who she is and what she is becoming. That sent chills up my spine and let me tell you why. When you walk in your purpose, things will align just like that even if a hurdle or two comes up. The ancestors are walking with Jeannine. There is no bigger figure in history that exudes courage like Harriet. She could have saved a few and no one would have judged her, but she took this courage knowing it could cost her life and she trekked on. 

One of the most important things that has carried Jeannine is discernment. She has it and it helped her along the way. Its been principle when people even in love told her that this was a silly idea. Silly in theory to go against practicability vs responsibility. To start something that others deemed would be a lost in profit along the way, yet she sold out of books just from opening her doors and hasn’t even had the Grand Opening which is scheduled for February 1st. Her goals are to not only have a book store but to be a community hub. She has made sure she puts a dog treat bowl out. Makes sure its always warm and welcoming. She’s even working with Swarthmore to have teachers come and set up a children’s room so that young kids can experience an open the conversation about activism and community involvement early on.  

Crossing the list

Jeannine was super nervous about crossing this milestone that was year in the making. From taking this idea from inception, complaint and sitting it down to picking it back up and turning it into what is Harrietts. 

If we could learn something from Jeannine is that not all ideas are safe. Stepping out in courage like Harriet Tubman doesevoke the love of courage-while supporting women activist and authors as they continue their own journey of success is going to keep Harrietts here for quite some time.

Harrietts is open daily from 10-6:00pm. How we can support is come in and purchase a new book from amazing authors. Support by taking space here and coming in droves to bring others in.

Thank you Jeannine and I appreciate your extensive collection-I also made my own purchase Toni Morrison’s Home! I plan to finish this as I travel at the end of the month.

Feel free to also come and be at the Grand Opening on February 1, 2020!

Follow Harrietts on Instagram!

Sunday Message: Your tribe Matters

It’s one thing to be born into a family and not be able to choose who you are around. It’s another to consistently pick the wrong tribe and blame it on others.

Often times the one you choose reflects who you are. That can change from time to time. When I was in college not all of my college friends reflect who I am today! I’ve changed. My tribe has changed as well. It’s very rare to be who you are through all phases in life. Life changes and so does your taste in friends. It’s okay to acknowledge when something no longer works! It doesn’t mean you are stuck up or that you are being mean to people just because you are choosing to expand your circle.

Who’s in the circle?

Ask yourself why you hang with whom you hang with! Do they build you? Are they one sided? You know the friends who want you to uplift every achievement who won’t even say congratulations to even the biggest or smallest of things! Does your circle include those who make you genuinely feel loved? Do they remember the important days? Do they make you feel like you need to step up! Are they truly in your corner? If you answer anything in the negative about your circle it’s time to change the circle a bit!

Natural Progression

Sometimes instead of wrecking shop and upsetting the balance you could especially for friends who don’t do as much let the relationship have a natural fizzle! This means you could simply allow the lack of communication etc. continue! After awhile it will fade and you can let it fade or you can have a conversation and speak genuinely to the person to let them know you are just going into separate directions! This is for adults! Meaning kid and kid like folks who want to play games this isn’t for you. To be an adult means that at times you need to have uncomfortable conversations. It doesn’t feel good to end things but it’s necessary.

Cut the Cord

There are times when you can’t let things naturally progress. You have to be super clear about the intentions and cut folks off. You can do this a number or ways. I like direct conversations. Sometimes you can talk it out and find ways to mend even at the moment of ending it! However there is no need to keep people in your life who don’t even serve a greater good for you. Why? What’s the point? I get some folks have been in your life but longevity doesn’t equate to meaningful forever stay. Some folks are super mean and they don’t think you will ever walk away because you haven’t in the past. In 2020 we need to have conversations about what works and what doesn’t and it’s okay to be the adult that you are and acknowledge it’s time to cut the cord. You can wish folks well and distance yourself! You don’t have to be mean to tell people you are done!!

Know yourself

Do you get mad and easily irritated and take that out on your friends? Sometimes it’s not your tribe that’s the issue it could be you! Sorry to say that there are some who tear their friend circle with their own hands. You can’t be so demanding. Every group has a natural leader or two! Just because you are the leader doesn’t mean you can demean others. If you are the cause of many frictions deal with you! I’m the type that looks in first before I point out to others! You might really need to do a self check in how you act with those around you.

So it’s one thing to not be able to pick family but you need to work on your tribe! Your tribe is all about who you allowed into it! You can’t get mad at the tribe you picked!

Let’s clear the path for those around us to help us to be our best versions!!! Let’s define the tribe!

National C-section

Today is the day we get to talk about all things C-sections. The first C-section was done on January 14, 1794. Although they have come a long way since than they are still very dangerous and serious!

I remember growing up and not hearing too many stories about them.  So much so that it wasn’t about not knowing the birth plan existed; it was more or less not having anyone I had known to go through it. My mom birthed all three of her children the “natural” way even with my sister and I being twins and I was breach. So when I had my own children this was so unfamiliar that I did NOT research a single thing during my pregnancy with my oldest.

Now what I will share will be really hard to read or may trigger someone who either is having issues with conceiving or someone who has birthed a child via C-section and has lost a child. For that I want to say I completely understand. This is my personal stories of my children’s birth and the trauma I experienced. I have blogged many times but never together about each of my 3 children who were all birthed via C-section. Having them via C-section made me make the decision to not have any more children. It was never my children’s fault that they were born that way but it will forever frame how I look at how emerging our health system is so evolved yet many women make the decision or are put in the decision to birth via a C-section that it’s crazy.

Here I want to be truly transparent and offer my story as a way to start the conversation. Let me dispel some of the things I hear:

C-sections is a cop out to “natural child birth”

This is simply not true. The scar is always a reminder of the miracle of life but the reality is C-sections aren’t a wimp way out of a thing. I see where women are speaking up now breaking these thoughts and shattering the ideas that many women and men used to say. C-sections is major surgery and the recovery increases complications every single time they are done. No wimping out on that pain and the pain isn’t something to sneeze about. Sneezes hurt too by the way.

C-sections aren’t something you can simply order like you are going to McDonald’s. I have heard many people say they would request it since it’s so much easier. Define easy? If you mean having your organs mushed around and the fear that you may not be able to walk correctly is easy let me know. Or how about the pain that comes along with it. The fact that you have to be monitored longer than “natural” birth. How about the complications, are they easy too? I had 2 blood clots that were so big that the one at least was as a large as a newborn. I experienced that last one with my youngest attempting to take a shower. The gore of feeling contracts and seeing a large mass on the floor after being anemic, having already lost blood is not an easy way out by far. Oh and since I was already dealing with a blood clot in the braid; it complicated my C-section even further.

Oldest Gummi Bear

I have given each and every one of my children nick names. My oldest I named Gummi Bear. That’s how she appeared to look on the sonogram. I had to have one pretty early on due to the fact that I wasn’t able to keep anything down and my blood count kept doubling. I am a twin they wanted to be sure I wasn’t having twins. Thankfully I wasn’t. I had developed preeclampsiapretty late or at least that’s when I was told. With that being said my blood pressure kept spiking. The entire time she was fine but it was clear I was going to have to deliver. I was induced and my oldest didn’t want to come so I had to have the C-section. I remember them saying it was going to have to be an emergency and if they couldn’t save us both what did I want them to do. I said take me and let her live. I know women who would have said either one. A child being born and not ever having their mom could have just as many issues as I could not having her but I made the decision and luckily since I am typing this, we both made  it through. I was unprepared and super scared. Grateful for my support system who was there for me. I remember being so clear that I would heal fast since it was my first child and I did in retrospect but I was also in great health prior to. My daughter was 6 weeks early. She spent time in the NICU but you couldn’t tell that looking at her, she is one of the strongest I had known.

My Sonshine

My son was my second child. I was going to VBAC which is have a vaginal birth following a C-section but his heart rate flucated after having contractions that didn’t stop for hours. They decided to make sure my son was in great health and since I had already had a C-section it would be fine. That was the worst pain and I told myself to expect the same as the first and I was wrong. The scar tissue from the first made the pain of recovery even worse. I knew mentally what I would need to do but that pain was greater. I over compensated my whole pregnancy with my son. Where I couldn’t keep water down and had to have an IV infusion pump and nurse visits after 3 hospitilations, I over ate with son. I wasn’t able to recover as well as I had the first one. However this C-section was awful. The doctors made it awful by not listening to me and the staff in general made me so irritated beyond relief that when I got home it just made me feel like I couldn’t ask for help because “you will be fine” was what I was told but the pain was that much worse. 

My Firecracker

My youngest and last child in this world and the next one to come was also by C-section. By this point it was clear the path I had to take. I scheduled hers but that was before I found out I had a blood clot on my brain and had to be monitored closely. These girls gave me the business. I had to give myself shots during the pregnancy in my belly and thigh. It was awful. Due to the blood thinners I had to schedule up to the hour when the surgery would happen to make sure I wasn’t going to bleed out. I even had 2 sets of surgeons in my room. Once again my daughter was in perfect health but I wasn’t. I bleed a lot during surgery especially with scar tissue build up. Every time they go into to cut after one C-section the scar tissue makes it that much harder. She was born and I thought I was good to go until I got out of recovery. My blood pressure dropped they did an ultrasound found another blood clot. I remember my doctor putting everyone out of room saying she didn’t have time; she gave me morphine and pulled the blood clot out herself. Here lied the blood clot on my bed and I was crying hysterically thinking I was going to die. I had another one in the shower and they had to rescue me from dropping pressures. I made it home only to have my son out of excitement jump on my belly and I hemorrhaged from the inside out. After two blood transfusions I was in the clear, but I was in the ICU.  My husband said I blacked out several times and lost full color. I felt like I was going to die but by the grace of God I am here. I could have bled out. 

C-sections gave me my beautiful children but I would be lying if they were “easy.” There is nothing easy about being cut and the implications of that cut can do to your health. I know that medicine is advancing but we need to have improvements in how we treat patients’ experiencing C-sections. To all of my mothers with their forever scars-I salute you!

No short cuts in this Blogging Life

So, Hey Friday! It’s already Friday whew! Thank God! I mean I can’t complain about that. However, trying to continue moving in this week has been interesting. I was sick on New Year Eve night and it came on super sudden. I was planning on going to a friend’s party with the kids. However, a sinus infection took over my life. I looked like Rudolph and I barely made it to midnight. I had fallen asleep and had to be awaken by my family. Since we had no plans of being home shout out to my husband who knows how I love for my family to have New Year gear he stepped up to the plate. Not many options at 8pm New Year Eve night but there’s always a man on the corner hustling so he got the items from him. No shade to the hustler and my kids had a great time jumping around me as I sat miserable looking like I had a hangover when we toasted the New Year to sparking cider. 

Grind don’t stop

So now that we have been for some I would say “back to the grind” for the 2 days since I have made sure that my first quarter goals are set. I am working ahead on a few projects in the works and attempting to still get these sinuses together. If you ever had a sinus infection you already know my already big head feels like it’s going to fall over. SO, what are you working on?  What have you done so far in the 3 days? I know its like wait a minute its only been 3 days, but you must understand that most folks who are ambitious are already securing the bags and moving forward. So, don’t leave an opportunity behind or not go towards a goal. I am working on one that is taking everything in me to finish. Its one thing for someone to ask what’s your passion project and know they can help fund it and make it happen. Its overwhelming process. They say dream big and the dream scares you to put it onto paper and act on it. This is where I am and, in a week, or so I must complete. It sounds easy until you must take these plans from dreamworld to reality. 

What’s my biggest struggle?

Trying to formulate my words into an action plan. To say here is what I see my future life to be. This is my career and here’s the blueprint to make that happen. Its scary. To be honest it felt like the sinus infection came the second I started to put pen to paper and write. That is how I felt and that is what is happening. The pressure within only myself to see myself in the future tense feels debilitating. I don’t want to fail and to be honest it’s not fully focused on failure as much as it feels scary to ask. To say hey can you help me make this happen. It’s a leap of faith that even if I must tweak the plan is crazy to be in this position to ask. When I was that stay at home mom after being laid off, I was scared. I had the stability of my fiancé at the time who is my now husband. It felt great but I wanted more. I worked my whole life and being comfortable by just existing isn’t enough. Since than and 2 more kids later the dream inside of me to show my daughters that you can go after whatever you want is important to me. I want them to be proud of the moves I made instead of resenting them.  

Any Means Necessary

I remember the days when I would cry because it seemed as if I had a kid attached at the hip. When my kids got sick, we played rock, paper, scissors to see who would stay home. We always discussed what made more sense.  He had the stable job, but we needed him to save up for bigger emergencies. Because I had a 3-year break in employment even with a college degree and a strong resume I had to take temporary jobs to supplement. Its not a cake walk. You never know what people are working towards in their lives just because you see smiles in the pictures. I would do it all over again if it meant a stability for my kids. They are always in the forefront of my mind. I felt like such a failure at moments, but I knew it wouldn’t last long. Dreams come with hard work, tears, frustrations, and sometimes a desire to give up but don’t! I would love to say I started from the top and stayed but I really started from the bottom and I seek to stay grounded. I want to reach for the stars and keep my wits about me. I don’t take for granted any opportunities that come my way. I don’t forget the mornings I stayed awake after working a 3rdshift job to prevent paying daycare so the kids were taken care of. I would go from an event, wash my face, put on work clothes and work like I wasn’t just brushing elbows with the tops of the city. I was born from a mother who worked her butt off and a father who did the same. If any glow up is coming it’s not because it was handed to me. I worked hard and will continue to work hard for myself and my family.

How bad do you want it? If you want to it-go work for it and go, get it this year! I’m not going to water down that I get to travel and do what I do. Not with all the work I do and push behind the scenes. Work hard and enjoy it not work hard and be miserable still!

Oh and it’s Women Rock day! Tell a woman you know that they rock! To all my ladies please know you rock. You can take on it all and look like you never touched the fire. You can have whatever you want and balance it all too! Take time for yourself!

People’s Light Presents: Little Red Robin Hood

I was originally going to take one of my kids so I wouldn’t be one of the only ones in there with no children but the way this weekend and the stomach virus went down I was on my solo trip! I must say this was a brilliant mix of Little Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood that I’ve ever seen. From the second the show started, I knew kids or not I would have a ball of fun.

This was my first Panto style play. However I was so thoroughly impressed. Although I’ve attended many plays at People’s Light this was my first time at the Leonard C Hass Stage. I got the same warm welcome as I always do! This stage has the cafe and has two levels of entrance. I went in on the second floor and made my way downstairs. I absolutely loved it.

This Musical Panto was absolutely crowd pleasing and engaging to say the least. This isn’t your simple watch and enjoy musical. Throughout your asked questions, sing, dance, and just enjoy those around you. Nothing brings people together more than a great performance.

Each actor played unique parts that told the story of how Lady Nottingham tried to take over the Forrest to make her new fur business take off doesn’t go as planned. Played by Mary Elizabeth Scallen she is the villain you love to hate. Accompanied by Lupo the Big Bad Wolf who is employed by Lady Nottingham to “take care” of Maud aka Granny the whole tryst is such a love story, family reunion, and a who’s who of sorts. The journey brings about a unity of the Forrest as well as allows Amelia aka Little Red to discover her abilities and who she is. It’s like a family entertainment for everyone with adult punchlines too.

I loved how engaging the play was from the actors coming into the crowd to talk to you, a little righteous candy giving, and even some crowd stage participation-it kept everyone on their toes. I met as I always do a young lady who was there alone as well. We chatted up in between the intermission. This play was about 2 hours long with about a 10 minute intermission. It didn’t feel long at all and although there were kids as young as 3-4 years old not one was antsy or a disruption to the rest of the patrons. I think the fact that the singing grabs and keeps your attention helps. I saw young and old singing along together and it was the best part of my Saturday!!

I didn’t have my most favorite character which is rare. The reason being they all had such large stage presence. I mean amazing voices both their acting voice and singing I was extremely impressed. They all brought such great personalities. However if someone made me choose I would go with Maud! Maud stayed in character on and off the stage!!

Maud aka Granny after the show had me laughing so hard I didn’t even care to get a better shot this was the shot!

This is such a great holiday get together that I was originally scheduled to go before Christmas and ended up going right after it. This is a good family time musical. Everyone of all ages will leave smiling from ear to ear. Also we were greeted by the actors while leaving as well.

If I had a suggestion for you as you attend I would say come with the mindset that as a musical you are going to have some of these tunes in your head. I left out with so much energy. Also the snacks aren’t expensive so if you have little kids and you end up having to get them a snack it’s not back breaking at all. Bathrooms are clearly marked and even if you have to leave they do try to find a time for you to re-enter. However be aware because the actors are coming into the crowd you might have to wait a little bit.

The singing from the actors/actresses were phenomenal. I have to throw my hat off to all of the actors but more importantly to Mrs. Higglebottom she was blowing!!

So is it worth a second viewing? It’s one thing to try it once but if it’s worth a second viewing than its golden and I definitely would view it a second time. It’s worth a second viewing. I would take my whole family as I know for sure they would feel the same way as I did leaving.

With all good things you don’t have much time to see it!!! Little Red Robin Hood is leaving with your last chance being on January 5th. So get your tickets here!

Arden Children’s Theatre Presents: Snow Queen

I have 3 angry little children in my house. They had no idea that I would be attending the show; The Snow Queen. However I will be changing that. This was my first time at the Arden Children’s Theatre. As you know I love theatre and think that all people should have the opportunity to attend shows. I’m glad to know that Arden Theatre feels the same and donates tickets to children and patrons who might not otherwise have the opportunity. This is due in large to patrons donating a ticket price at the end of their shows.

There are so many reasons why Snow Queen gets a great two thumbs up!

When I see a show I try to view it from many different angles. Although I attended the show with Phillyfoodgal and it seemed as if we were the only ones who didn’t have kids with us it really is a show for all ages. It’s witty, dynamic and most importantly interactive.

Length of Show

I thought the length of the show was just right. It wasn’t too short which I thought it might be since it is a children’s theatre. Because is it’s interactive nature it has an intermission about 45 minutes into the show right as the kids wanted to begin being antsy. There was a set of kids behind us and they did well and were about the same ages of my youngest children. From the lights and actions The Snow Queen kept all of the kids right in the action!

Interaction

Depending on where you sit there is snow falling which the big kid in me loves. Beach balls and other interactive play happening at one time. It adds to the kids sensory play in my opinion. It’s the perfect way to hold the kids attention. For theatre at such a young age it’s perfect. Let me also give a great compliment to the actors who held a question and answer afterwards. Their ability to help the children formulate their questions without making them feel bad was the best.

Actor Alex Bechtel speaking to a child after the performance

Will the kids love it?

Absolutely yes! It’s a great family time show that kids of all ages will love. The story follows the Snow Queen as she attempts to a “loyal” subject to help fix her mirror. In this quest it takes Gerda on a seasonal trek to find out about herself and her abilities. The whole cast turns into a life size dream world to help facilitate the changing of seasons. It’s colorful, bold, filled with amazing songs and each actor has such a stage presence that even the characters who you don’t want to like you love! Your child will have much to talk about once leaving this show. FYI it’s not Frozen. I know a lot of the kids near me kept saying it but by the time they left they instinctively had a clear line. Also they do a great job talking lightly about topics such as anxiety. I loved this since kids of all ages and a lot of adults deal with it! Making it normal because it is a normal part of life stuck out to me!

Things to know

The stage is round in the sense. There are marked off yellow lines like construction lines so that you don’t cross over. I would encourage kids to go to the bathroom prior to the show but if like kids they have to go during there is only 2 ways to leave the theatre and you will be directed.

There is a concession stand for food and drinks. You can bring them into the theatre. Allot about 10-15 minutes prior to the show to grab them as the lines can be long. The prices aren’t bad either! Oh the cups they have the cups with the sippy like tops! These cups even for adults are amazing and provide a keepsake to take home!!

Daniel Ison plays Cei and a Troll

Please consider donating at the end of your show. Right now they have a donor willing to match each donation. It takes $14 dollars to send a kid who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend a show and now that one $14 with the match sends 2 kids to a show! That’s super amazing to me. I was exposed to theatre because my mother majored in it and had grown up with it her whole life. Not everyone has that as their story line. Often outside of a movie that’s the only acting that some kids think about because of lack of exposure.

Snow Queen played by Katherine Fried

Little known gem: The Cat and the Hat is coming in the Spring. I will be in the building with my 3 kids for sure! I also can’t wait to see it in the Spring.

Eunice Akinola plays Gerda and Troll

Jo Vito Ramirez plays John, Fred, Troll, Robber and Narcissus

To the actors

You had such amazing charisma. I was sitting there like a big kid enjoying every minute because you brought each character to life. You did above and beyond to make me see you as your individual characters. All of your stage presence was seen. Afterwards thank you for taking pictures with me too!

Alex Bechtel plays Mr. Oversku, JJ, Bae, Snow Drop, and Troll

Thank you to Phillyfoodgal for inviting me. I had the best time. Thank you to Bryan Buttler Media for the arrangements. Thank you to the Arden Theatre Company. I love what you are doing. Thank you to ALL staff who helped even the volunteers of the night!

Mary Fishburne plays Mrs. Fyn, Rose, Robber, and Troll

I look forward to the Spring Show as well as bringing my own to this show.

Jenna Kuerzi plays Elisa, Lil, Robber Girl, Bindweed, and Troll

FYI the Snow Queen ends January 26th. This is plenty of time to take your family to see this. I also highly recommend it while the kids are out of school. Although the gift giving is almost over I would recommend the gift of theatre. Kids have enough toys gift them experiences! For tickets click here!

Kala Moses Baxter plays Grandmother, Mrs. Dear, Robber Woman, and Troll

Snow Queen and Phillyfoodgal

Quintessence Theatre presents I. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz!”

I took my mini with me to see the Wizard of Oz and literally watched this show come to life through her eyes has to be my proudest moments this year. We all know the story of how Dorothy dreamed of a life far away over the Rainbow away from the very people she knows and love. I promise you, you have never seen the story unfold the way Quintessence Theatre portrayed it. The Wizard of Oz was directed by Lee Cortopassi with this production is an adaptation of John Kane and based on the classis motion picture by Turner Entertainment Company and distributed by all media by Warner Brothers.  

Dorothy Gale

First, it’s hard to distinguish between which characters I loved most because this cast is full of pure talent. They all are amazing. It didn’t matter if they played one character or multiple characters, they all shined together as a well oiled (no pun intended) team. I loved the powerful acting of Dorothy Gayle played by Leigha Kato.  She was phenomenal.  Her timing was on point, her voice is out of this world and she literally lite the stage.  I will say it again I am sure but there’s a difference between singing and sanging and Dorothy and all the actors/actresses sang.

Scarecrow/Hunk

Andrew Betz played an amazing Scarecrow. I loved how his costume was overly stuffed to showcase straw. They did just enough allowing the audience to focus more on his acting than anything else. What I liked about his character is that they kept his part very close to the original.  I think his part since he was the first friend that Dorothy meets was vital. I also enjoyed hearing newer songs that weren’t in the original as well. Andrew brings his A game in this pivotal character.  I was impressed with his chops as well. Again singing is key when you are in a musical and Quintessence Theatre made sure to have a lot of heavy hitters to round out this cast.

Toto

Susannah Hughes did a great job as Toto. I loved that they used her as an actress instead of maybe a toy dog that followed Dorothy. Instead Toto was interactive with the audience as well as with Dorothy which is more that Toto did outside of certain scenes. This was a pleasant surprise. Also, Toto had a lot of great acrobats that was noticeable and added to the scenes at the right time. 

I loved how in the beginning they let you know who was playing which role. I think especially for my daughter it helped her to sort of keep her focus. She is by the way 10 years old and she absolutely loved the entire play.

Lion/Zeke

My daughter’s favorite was the Cowardly Lion played by Jered Mclenigan. He put his own spin on the classic character.  We all expect the Lion to be witty and Jered was that and so much more. As soon as he stepped on the stage I never stopped laughing. Jered also played Zeke. I loved how you can see so much personality in his acting and range. You can tell when an actor just takes a part or when they truly take on a part. 

Aunt Em/ Glinda

Can we say how diversified Leah Gabriel as Aunt Em and Glinda the Good witch was? I loved the spin in making her entrances so modern and chic. I had to explain to my daughter that that she was indeed the same character. Some of the others she immediately saw the transition, but she couldn’t see it as much with Leah’s characters. I loved her upbeat personality to the Good Witch because it literally made the character not just airy but attainable and audience friendly without taking away from the classic, we all have grown up to love and know. 

Miss Gulch/ Wicked Witch

E. Ashley Izard portrayal of Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch was so good I forgot that we aren’t supposed to necessarily like her. I liked her a lot. I had to think about what that meant about me, but I digress. She was super entertaining. I mean we knew what her purpose was, but we didn’t want her to hurry to get there. Let me also say that Quintessence did an amazing job with transitions. It was smooth going in between characters.  

The Wizard/ Uncle Henry

John Basiulis did a great job as Uncle Henry. Like Leah he was almost unnoticeable as he shifted from Uncle Henry to the Wizard. It’s another one I had to talk to my daughter about. It didn’t bother me that his transitions were amazingly done at all. I loved having to talk to my daughter about the transitions. She was amazed. I loved the fact that once again they took a modern spin and although they kept the generalizations of the characters the modern touched helped audiences of all ages enjoy the show.  

Tinman

Doug Hara and his Tinman costume I loved the most. It wasn’t the way they did the costume it was the fact that he overacted in a great way the stiffness of his costume. Everyone knows that the Tinman is on his way to get a heart. We also know he has rusted due to the Witch’s spell.  Its not as easy as some would think to speak as if you are rusted and have personality doing it. Doug did an amazing job portraying what it would have been like to be rusted several times as his stint as the Tinman. I also loved that just like the Classic he did a great job as Hickory.

Ensemble

Sometimes we look at Ensemble as just extras but let me tell you nothing was extra or small about the parts that these next set of actors/actresses portrayed.  To be honest because we are so familiar with the story of Wizard of Oz it allowed the Ensemble cast to shine that much more.  That doesn’t mean it took away from the story, but it added the necessary and rounding elements to the story. 

First, I sat in the front where I was in the actor’s touching space. Do NOT worry, no actors were harmed. They don’t touch you. I do like being in the front when I am reviewing because I like to be close to the power. It helps me to really focus in on each character. This is what I noticed, Michael Liebhauser, Chloe Mollis McBride, and Jessica Money can really sing. They have several instances where they had to harmonize. I paid close attention to that because sometimes with music you don’t get the essence of the actors/actress’ voices, but this was not the case. I heard them collectively as well as individually. You can blame that on my choir and singing background.

To say that I didn’t have ball would be a lie. I not only spent valuable time with my mini me, Naila as we made it a day with an early dinner and snacks, but I also enjoyed the great show! In case you were wondering how you too can go and see it they have been extended until January 5th!

Quintessential Theatre is in their 10th season. They are located at 7137 Germantown avenue in Philadelphia PA! Little fact on Saturdays until the New Year you can park for free! So now you have a little more coin for snacks! They have an amazing concession stand serving wine, beer, popcorn, and candy for your enjoyment. They even have hot chocolate and tea for purchase as well.

To get tickets go here!

Thank you to Quintessence Theatre for having me. Thank you Carrie for always including me. Thank you to the cast who surpassed my expectations. Everyone was extremely welcoming to me and my daughter! I can’t wait to see what other amazing shows are produced here!!