Tag Archives: tea party

My tea party platform

These whimsical tea cups hang from a ceiling at the Children's Museum of Phoenix

As Monday night’s debate between candidates for the Republican party’s nomination for president was nearing a close, moderator Wolf Blitzer of CNN asked candidates to share something they’d bring with them to the White House if elected.

One scored big points by promising to grace the White House with one of our nation’s finest first ladies. The one who mentioned Winston Churchill’s bust is going to have a harder time at home for the next couple of nights.

One spoke of the children in his life and bringing their interests, including chess and ballet, to the White House — but only after promising to make room for it all by ridding the White House of its many czars.

One plans to bring along his Harley, another a bushel of common sense. All failed to recognize the most obvious necessity — a tiny little tea set for hosting tea parties with toddlers and teddy bears.

The debate reminded me of all those lovely tea parties I enjoyed with my children when they were younger. Of the hand-painted porcelain tea cups James’ grandma Julia once crafted with such care. Of the tea cup my daughter Jennifer once decorated at a pottery painting studio — yellow with cherries and other fruits painted around both cup and saucer.

I have my own tea party platform that goes something like this:

  • Tea parties must be held in tree houses or under dining room tables tented by colorful cotton sheets
  • Tea parties must have room at the table for everyone — even boys
  • Tea parties must include miniature cupcakes because they are dainty, have fewer calories and are easier to shove in my mouth
  • Tea parties must include slurping and straws and all manner of silliness and spills

Tea parties at home, park or beach are delightful — but so are tea parties at swankier places that welcome feather boas and sparkling accordian fans. Tea parties for a cause are also ever so nice.

I’ll feature tea party events and places in my next post. If your family has a tea party platform or tea party picture to share, please send it my way. I’ll post a few for readers during my next spot of tea.

Earl Grey with a sprinkle of fairy dust…

— Lynn

Coming up: A trio of teas benefiting Valley dance academies

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Alice (and Phoebe) in Wonderland

Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix presents "Alice in Wonderland" in downtown Phoenix

Lizabeth came downstairs one morning after watching a movie she’d rented online. She was eager to tell me about this tale of a family living with a young girl who is “different” — and who becomes involved with the world of theater.

The film, a 2008 ThinkFilm production, is titled “Phoebe in Wonderland.” It’s made the film festival rounds and earned accolades including a Heartland “Truly Moving Picture Award.”

It reminded me that our own Valley Youth Theatre, whose alumni include Emma Stone (recent nominee for a “best actress” Golden Globe Award), will perform “Alice in Wonderland” Feb 4-20 at the VYT theater in downtown Phoenix. Update: Show extended through Feb 27.

I was delighted to see familiar youth on the cast list, including Nathan Naimark (Footman/Executioner) — whose mom Dana Wolfe Naimark was the subject of a recent “Stage Mom” post.

While the young Naimark is readying for opening night, his mother — the head of Children’s Action Alliance — is contending with budget cuts that impact Arizona children in all sorts of ways.

I suspect she’ll be experiencing a few of her own “Tweedledee” and “Tweedledum” moments in the coming weeks and months.

But back to the fabulous cast of VYT’s “Alice in Wonderland” — which includes Maddy Rathbun (Alice), Alex Acosta (Mad Hatter), and Lindsey Brown (Queen of Hearts).

Couple VYT's non-musical "Alice in Wonderland" with a tea party, arts & crafts or puppet play

Were my girls a decade or so younger, I’d be working to put together an “Alice in Wonderland” weekend of sorts — having friends over to explore the Lewis Carroll tale via movies, books, puppet theater and the live VYT performance (which is a non-musical).

Kids can get some serious arts and crafts projects out of “Alice in Wonderland” characters and themes — objects changing size, roses painted different colors, playing cards that come to life.

Even a tea party at home, in the park or a charming Valley venue — such as the Teeter House at Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix — would be fun.

I suspect that the sets and costumes for VYT’s “Alice in Wonderland” will inspire hours of imaginative play. And who knows, your own son or daughter might discover that live theater is most wonderful wonderland of all.

— Lynn

Note: Heartland Truly Moving Movies is a non-profit organization whose work includes an annual film competition for works by high school students. Entries for the 2011 Heartland High School Film Competition are being accepted through June 1, 2011. Those who enter before April 15 pay no submission fee, and will be considered for a scholarship to attend “Prodigy Camp.”

Coming up: Other youth theater works coming to Valley stages, Arizona Girlchoir offerings, Musings on art and rock ‘n’ roll, Nuclear weapons take center stage, Summer camp meets glee club

Igor & son

"Young Frankenstein" First National Touring Company-Roger Bart and Rye Mullis (Photo: Paul Kolnik)

“He’s like a little director,” says Cory English, “telling everyone what to do.” English is touring the country with the Broadway musical “Young Frankenstein” — which runs Sept 27-Oct 3 at ASU Gammage in Tempe as part of the “Broadway Across America Arizona” series.

English has two important roles — Igor and father. We started a recent conversation by talking about his son, Sammy, who has been touring with English and his wife Sara (also an actor) since he was just three months old.

I asked English, who hails from New York but now calls London home, about the pros and cons of parenting on the road. The only real downside, it seems, is that children tagging along on tour enjoy less time around other children. “Adults love listening to his stories,” muses English, “but other kids aren’t as interested.”

"Young Frankenstein" First National Touring Company-Roger Bart and Rye Mullis (Photo: Paul Kolnik)

So how do they make sure that Sammy gets as much time with peers as possible? They’re masters at seeking out kid-friendly experiences in the cities they visit. In one city Sara found a Waldorf school their son was able to attend for six weeks — giving him a sense of place and structure.

English raves about the Chicago Children’s Museum and AcroSports in San Francisco, so I hope they’ll have a chance to explore the Children’s Museum of Phoenix while they’re here. I’m convinced it’s among the nation’s best.

“He has to adapt since we’re in a different city every week,” says English of his son. “He’s not afraid to go up to people and say ‘Hi.'” English praises Sara’s cooking (recalling how much Sammy loved the Waldorf school’s cooking class) — admitting that they do tire of restaurant fare.

Happily, they’re able to find preschooler favorites like “pasta and potatoes” in any city. Still, they travel with certain essentials for on-the-road meal preparation, including a Foreman grill, hot water kettle and Thermomix (which seems to do just about everything but wash the dirty dishes).

"Young Frankenstein" First National Touring Company-Roger Bart and Cory English (Photo: Paul Kolnik)

But what of his Igor role? English replaced the original actor on Broadway in late 2008, and began performing with the touring production in September of 2009. It never gets old, he says, because the show lends itself to a sort of spontaneity that breaks the “fourth wall” between performers and audience more often than most.

You don’t have to be a big musical theater fan to enjoy “Young Frankenstein,” according to English, who says he’s delighted to be performing in one of the few new musical comedies out there. English touts the work’s vaudevillian vibe — noting that the musical is based on Mel Brooks’ 1974 movie of the same name.

English notes that unlike some other musicals, “Young Frankenstein” is popular with both women and men. “There’s a lot of inuendo,” says English, “so just be prepared.” He adds that much of it will “go right over the heads” of children less than 8 years old, while 13- to 14-year old boys “will love this humor.”

"Young Frankenstein" First National Touring Company-Roger Bart and Rye Mullis (Photo: Paul Kolnik)

English’s first love was dancing. His advice to budding actors ages 10 to 16 or so is this: “Do it as much as possible — and enjoy it.” By about 17, he says, kids need to decide whether they’re really going to pursue it — and whether their parents will actually let them.

He notes that there are plenty of theater-related careers — stage managing, writing, directing. “Don’t do it if you don’t love it,” cautions English. “If you can do anything else, do it.”

“It’s a rough business,” admits English. “You have to make a lot of sacrifices.”

“There’s no way I would go out on the road without my wife and son,” reflects English. “No amount of money would be enough.”

So what’s his advice to young people eager to venture into the world of acting? “Get to know as many walks of life as possible,” suggests English. Wait tables. Be a hospital candy striper. Travel. Do odd jobs. For some, he says, it’s helpful to take a “gap year” between high school graduation and college.

"Young Frankenstein" First National Touring Company (Photo: Paul Kolnik)

Whatever your special area of interest, says English, just get out there and “be in the mix of it.” For musical theater, think NYC. For acting, think London — where you can study the classics and hone your storytelling.

I confessed to English as our conversation drew to a close that I hadn’t been all that keen on seeing “Young Frankenstein” before we chatted. He gave a hearty laugh when I shared that my I.Q. might be a bit lower than that of the average Mel Brooks fan.

Now I feel certain I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

–Lynn 

Note: Tickets for “Young Frankenstein” at ASU Gammage start at less than $25. Click here to learn about individual and season tickets, as well as special offers and promotions. Enjoy “Mel Brooks Movie Mania” at Madcap Theaters in Tempe on Sept 23 & 24 — which includes free movie screenings plus “contests, trivia and wacky prizes.” One lucky winner will receive tickets to “Young Frankenstein” opening night. Or join the cast for afternoon tea at The Ritz Carlton, Phoenix on Sept 29. Tickets to the tea run $35 and are available by calling The Ritz Carlton, Phoenix at 602-468-0700. Event includes chance to win four tickets and an exclusive opportunity to dine with the cast. Educators will enjoy the “Young Frankenstein” StageNOTES (TM) materials from Camp Broadway, LLC — which feature information for teaching history, language arts, life skills, behavioral studies and arts.

Coming up: Preview of the Black Theatre Troupe’s 2010-2011 season, which opens with a recent Tony-award winner highly praised by Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage and assistant vice president for cultural affairs at ASU.

Today’s tidbit: Paradise Valley Community College will host the Phoenix Astronomical Society by the PVCC telescope dome for a free (and open to the public) “PVCC Star Party” tonight from 6pm-10pm. Arizona Jewish Theatre Company holds auditions tonight from 7pm-9pm for their teen improv troupe. Interested teens ages 13-18 can call 602-264-0402 or e-mail gena@azjewishtheatre.org for an appointment (more details at www.azjewishtheatre.org).

What’s your Jabberwocky?

Johnny Depp in Disney's "Alice in Wonderland."

My two daughters, both teens, admit to being a little ‘creeped out’ by all things Alice in Wonderland—all that growing and shrinking, all those talking and disappearing animals, all the playing card and chess piece soldiers.

I remember feeling the same way at one time. But the way we see things changes as we age.

I saw something entirely different when I took myself to see the film “Alice in Wonderland” Monday morning at the Harkins IMAX theatre at Arizona Mills in Tempe.

It’s not about a Mad Hatter and his tea party, though Johnny Depp’s hatter—and the teacup-tossing rabbit—are ever so endearing.

It’s about a young woman’s dreams, and her father’s insistence that she pursue them instead of merely populating the dreams of others.

In Tim Burton’s take on two classic Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) tales, Alice has grown from a girl who has fallen but once down a magical rabbit hole into a young lady taking a second tumble into a land consumed by a single question…

“Is she the real Alice?”

It seems that Alice has long had a single dream—of blue caterpillars and grinning cats—that recurs each and every night. Once she asks her father whether she might be going mad.

‘You’re mad, bonkers, off your head,’ he tells her. ‘But I’ll tell you a little secret Alice—all the best people are.’ Seems Alice’s father was himself a bit of a dreamer, prone to ‘doing six impossible things before breakfast.’

After her father’s death, Alice clearly recalls—and embodies–his optimism and adventurous spirit. Yet she has doubts.

After falling down the rabbit hole into “Underland” (no longer “Wonderland”), Alice learns that she is destined to win freedom for its people (and animals) by slaying the dreaded Jabberwocky (which looks a bit like a dragon crossed with creatures from the movie “Alien”).

“This is impossible,” Alice tells the Mad Hatter.

“Only,” he replies, “if you believe it is.”

Alice becomes more brave and sure of herself—more Alice—as she makes her way. When a traveling companion suggests to Alice that she may have lost some of her “muchness” since her first visit, Alice proves otherwise by bobbing over a bog full of heads severed by the Red Queen.

This movie might have been too intense for my children when they were younger. Still, I wish my daughters, now in high school and college, would give Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” a chance.

I love the positive portrayal of a strong young woman, the depiction of a tender father-daughter relationship, and the recognition that people who are different (like Alice when she ponders painting white roses red) are the most wonderful of all.

–Lynn

Note: Not all movies recognize that “mad” isn’t “bad.” Saturday’s post will feature artists battling stigma against those living with mental illness. To support the effort, sign up for NAMI WALKS, a 5K walk at 1pm (noon registration) on Saturday, March 27, at Tempe Beach Park on Tempe Town Lake. Info at www.nami.org/walk. Children and families are encouraged to participate.