Fashion Forward Fridays: Monthly Recap

Here we are friends, the end of the first month of Fashion Forward Fridays. On the last Friday of each month, I'm going to reflect on what trends I saw the most throughout the city and highlight what advice the fashionistas gave during their mini-interviews. All of them showed and mentioned one main thing: color.

Each one of them told me that others should not be afraid to use color and each one of them was stepping out of the box to do so. Now, throughout the month of April, I saw a bit of a change in the typical downtown Pittsburgh style, big thanks to the warmer weather, Mr. Sun! And the main way that I saw these pops of color were in the denim. While I also contributed to this pop color by wearing my red jeans twice this month, I noticed that a lot of other Pittburghers were doing the same with other colored denim and I have to say, I didn't hate it. We'll see if GQ feels the same.

To be honest, when the colored pants first came on the scene, I was scared, mostly because the only colors available came in neons and made everyone that wore them look like some kind of traffic cone or like a highlighter exploded. Awful. However, more recently, pretty much every color has come out and now we're getting somewhere! I love the royal blue and red, but also, I'm dying over the peach and more pastel colors for spring, like one of the looks I mentioned that was shown at Glam for the Cure.

I know that there are "easy" ways to wear colored jeans and I know that both of the looks I created with my red ones, could be considered easy since I paired them with black and white. However, when first diving into the colored jeans, go slow, going overboard on your first time out in them will probably turn out bad and your confidence might take a bruise. Because trust me, you cannot walk outside of your place in red pants and not get noticed by everyone else. (While I've become use to this attention, I know not everyone is a fan of it, so just wanted to through that little tip out there!)

Here's how I took my red jeans from a day to night look...

Not all items are the exact ones that I mentioned.
For my day look I wore Delia's red jeans, the Belle shirt that I bought after seeing Beauty and the Beast the musical, with a black blazer from Victoria's Secret and black glitter ballet flats from Charlotte Russe. And I accessorized it buy using my gray fridge purse and long black necklace, both from mark. which is the young version of Avon. As for make-up I did my everyday routine, nothing over the top.

Not all items are the exact ones that I mentioned.
For my night look I again wore the Delia's red jeans, but this time paired them with a black feathery corset top from Wet Seal, a white fitted suit-vest from The Limited and zebra heels from the Paris Hilton Collection. And then accessorized with the same necklace from the day look, red feather earrings that MJ got me from Burlington and a gorgeous, long black clutch from a local boutique called Boutique la Passerelle, which I am obsessed with! And make-up wise, I did my same routine except a smoky eye with a hint of red as an accent.

So I hope you guys now will take the advice from our April fashionista's Carly, Channing and Teiona and maybe find some inspiration from my two looks to come up with your own fabulous ways to wear color! And hopefully the ever-changing Pittsburgh weather will allow you to break out some fun new colored denim. Happy weekend everyone!


Mod Matrimony: Pittsburgh Wedding Planners


Recently, I have joined the Mod Matrimony team! This is super exciting to me since I love event planning and I'm like a little girl about weddings. I cry at everyone's wedding, even if I don't know the couple that well. My tough-girl exterior is always crushed by a good wedding. Anyway, what this means to my readers here is that every Tuesday, you'll find me there. For my first post with Mod Mat: The Top 5 Pittsburgh Wedding Locations! Check it out!


Matthew 19:14

Admittedly, I bought the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo because my mom wanted it and it happened to be on sale in the Point Park Bookstore the day I went in to check out what new Vera Bradley items were in stock. Also admittedly, I read Heaven is for Real, that night, about two weeks ago, in about three hours total and have not been the same since I put it down.

Book cover of Heaven is for Real
As Ron Hall is quoted saying on the back cover, "A beautifully written glimpse into Heaven that will encourage those who doubt and thrill those who believe." True words, Ron. At first, before reading the book, I was a bit of a skeptic because I thought it was just another person trying to make a buck off not only their Christian ideals but off of their cute little kid too. There have been countless books written about traveling to Heaven and how to have child-like faith, most which are written in a style that compares to a how-to article that could be found in a cheap magazine. So I had my doubts about this one too.

Now as a former skeptic myself, I might know what you're thinking, in that how could I tell that this book was any different than all the others?

Well, you know that gut feeling you get when you know something is right or wrong? When people say 'I have a bad feeling about this,' or 'I could just tell it was going to be good,' usually there is a deeper meaning to that and if you look in the Bible about spiritual gifts, it's being able to recognize that God's spirit is present or can also be called discernment. And over and over again, even when I did not want it to be true, it's been proven to me and told to me, that discernment is my top spiritual gift. Which in a basic meaning is that I could just tell that this book was legit and at the very least, has a powerful underlying message.

Burpo Family picture: Colton is on the far left.
Generally, the book is about the Burpo family, and focuses on their first son, Colton. It is told through the perspective of Todd, who is the father and is a pastor in their small town. Colton, at the age of four, had a series of trips and stays at the hospital because of a ruptured appendix and not long after the last hospital stay, during a family trip, he mentions that he went to Heaven. Now, I've worked with kids, I know they say some crazy things and going to Heaven would not be a far-fetched idea for them to come up with, their imaginations are limitless, but it's the rest of the story that makes this whole book believable.

Colton talks about meeting family members he never met and never was told about, he mentions specific aspects of Heaven that are in line with Bible that he was never taught before. Considering the average four year old will only pay attention to you long enough to sing Jesus Loves Me, once, you cannot really teach them about anything complex, and to the human brain, Heaven is pretty complex. Now at first what Colton's mentions about Jesus are just plain cute. When any kid talks about Jesus, I cannot help but melt a little. Which seems to be the same impression Colton's parents had to his stories at first, too. It was not until Colton was able to tell them specific details about where they were and what they were doing in the hospital when the doctors rushed him into surgery, that they believed that their son had made an amazing journey to Heaven.

Okay, so I might know what you skeptics are thinking again. And yes, I know that the Burpo's could have made up every last detail of this book - yet I still believe they did not. 

The underlying message of this book is that we as adults think too much. We try to fit Jesus and God and Heaven and the Holy Spirit and all that other church stuff into one specific box, when the truth is, we can't. Even if you are a theology scholar, you will never be able to understand everything pertaining to God. Children get that. That's why the Bible makes mention about how much Jesus loves the children. That's why the kingdom belongs to them. And that's why He tells us to have child-like faith.

In Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo says, "child-like humility is not the lack of intelligence but the lack of guile. The lack of agenda. It's that precious fleeting time before we have accumulated enough pride or position to care what people might think." And that's just it. As adults we care too much about what our friends think, what co-workers might say and so on, when honestly we shouldn't. I know I'm guilty of this too but we all need to just stop and let God do what He does. If nothing else, this book will give you some peace on that subject.

I also liked that in the book, Todd talks about being angry with God through all of Colton's medical issues because I feel like we're always told never to show anger towards Him. 1)Why not, He already knows what you're thinking so why not just say it out loud too or during prayer at least, and 2) He does understand what it's like to be human, He understands everything we're going through so we might as well just let it out.

Overall, I just liked that this book brought a different view to what it means to believe in Heaven. Because you can talk about it forever but truthfully, we'll never really know until we're there. I also liked that it was a story. It wasn't written in a tone to try to prove anything, when Todd quoted a Bible verse or tells about something Colton described of Heaven, the verse wasn't right there to read, but instead they were all listed together in the back of the book in the Notes section. I really appreciated that not only because it lets the flow of your reading progress instead of pausing over and over again, but also because it was like Todd was writing in a way as to say, 'if you need the proof of this, here's where to look it up' instead of pounding it at you like so many other Christian authors seem to do. That writing style is just off-putting so think about that if you're writing your own Christian-based book.

Whether your skeptical about this read or not, I'd suggest checking it out. Like Ron Hall said, it really will encourage or thrill you, possibly even both. For me, over the past couple weeks, it's really been making me think differently about Heaven. I have always been curious about what it will be like, but now I know I cannot wait to get there, so I'm going to do everything I can with the time I am given here in the world and in this life to make that happen.


Traveling around the world...while staying in one seat!

Last night was the official opening night of the Pittsburgh Public Theater's production of Around the World in 80 Days. MJ and I had a grand ol' time traveling along to the different countries and didn't even have to move out of our seats. Theater and travel are just becoming so convenient!

At the Pittsburgh Public Theater until May 13th!
The show is directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge and is lined up with a phenomenal cast of Tom Beckett, Ron Bohmer, Jeffrey Kuhn, Meera Rohit Kumbhani and Richard B. Watson. While everyone was amazing at their parts, I have to say that Tom Beckett and Jeffrey Kuhn stole this one for me. Any show that allows the actors to talk in ridiculous accents always is a winner in my book, but Jeffrey portraying Frenchman, Passepartout and Tom portraying just about every other character, just took this show to the next level. Mostly Tom Beckett, because his ability to switch from one costume to the next and one accent to the next, killed me. I loved every facial expression and every bit of effort he was putting into this performance. Even though he made it look seamless, I'm sure it was a workout and I very much appreciated watching! I also very much enjoyed Meera, because while her bio notes a small background in theater, I thought she was fabulous, she's also the only woman in the show, so of course I'll side with her any day. But, from each actor, I cannot talk about how much I loved every time they were on a train, boat or other form of transportation and were able to remain in character and really deliver, while acting out the movement of the type of transportation. For the audience, a few times this just looked silly, which I'm sure was the point, but oh, my gosh, the movements just made the scenes come to life and at times had me and MJ in tears of laughter.

Ron Bohmer as Phileas Fogg. (Keith Hodan: Tribune-Review Photo.)
As always, the set was gorgeous. If you read my last Public Theater review, then you know that I was so impressed by the set of Freud's Last Session. But the scenic designer of Around the World, Michael Schweikardt, might have out done that set with this one. Now granted, this set is a lot less grand than Freud's Last Session, there is no massive bookshelf that I feel in love with, but there were more beautiful large pieces to look at on the stage this time. I especially loved that from where we were sitting, the stair case was almost directly across from us, so from time to time it felt like we were right in the action of the show. My favorite piece though was the elephant, I thought it was so cleverly done and loved how the actors interacted with it. Along with the set, the sound and lighting crew was on point with this show. I especially loved a certain scene about a haywire train that perfectly played out and showed how every single person involved in this show worked together harmoniously. But I'll leave that scene and the elephant to your imagination to entice you to go see this performance a little more.

Above all, I loved that this stage was used how it's supposed to be. Since it's a thrust stage, there are bits of audience members on three sides. Of course most of them are sitting where the audience would normally sit in the front center, however, there are still a good bit of them sitting on the sides. And since MJ and I were on the sides for this show, I especially took notice to the direction of where the actors were.  I love the Marcia took the time to notice that the audience is also on the sides, because not every director does that even when using a thrust stage. I very much appreciated that no matter where you were seated in the audience, at some point in this show you saw the actors from every angle. That might seem like such a small detail to some, but when you're actually sitting on the side, it's nice to see a face. Try going through an entire show without getting a good look at the actors faces, that would not be a fun time. So, thank you Marcia for your direction and using every bit of the Public's stage and thank you Public Theater for another quality show!


Fashion Forward Fridays: Meet Teiona!

On my continued quest to prove GQ wrong and help Pittsburgh be seen as a fashion-friendly city, I headed out today later than usual, to find a fashionista. Fashion Forward Friday's is apparently becoming my claim to fame, so sorry to the readers I kept waiting today with this later-day entry!

Miss Teiona, looking cute!
I actually spotted Teiona while crossing Liberty Ave. heading towards Penn Ave. and instantly loved her look. Mostly though, I loved how confident she looked in it. I hate when people just buy clothes knowing they are in style, but let the clothes wear them instead of the other way around. However, Teiona was owning this look.

She said that her inspiration comes from Rihanna and stores like Forever 21 and H&M are her favorites. Her outfit today was all from Forever 21 and while I'm not usually a fan of pulling clothes right from the mannequin and putting it on, I liked that Teiona was able to mix up this look a bit by her use of accessories.

First, I adore her bag. I love how casual it is but yet how stylish when put with the right pieces. Also, Teiona's headband and earrings just scream 'look at me' so I'm inspired by her gusto to put them together. Also, her floral gladiator sandals brought a nice touch to the outfit, complimenting her headband perfectly.  I loved that she stuck to primarily two colors and then let the accessories do the work for bringing this outfit to life (along with her personality of course.) Teiona's outfit is easy to do, but the way she pulled it all together is what made it a standout.  I love that she uses simple pieces, like a plain white tank and pairs it with navy shorts, a denim jacket and a simple, thin brown belt. While most might stop there, I liked that Teiona brought her outfit to the next level by adding the big circle earrings, headband and matching gladiators. Usually accessories are what make an outfit complete and give it a finished look.

Love this nail polish against her skin tone as well!
I also love that Teiona used a dainty floral patterned headband and paired it with such a tough looking earrings. Where I'm sure most people would pair dainty and dainty, I love that Teiona used contrasting elements to complete her look. The mixture of soft and rough is really coming into play this season and I'd suggest trying it out! I wish I could have gotten a good picture of her hair too, because it was styled in that way as well, with a strong braid but feminine pieces pulled to the back. I can certainly see how Rihanna is inspiring Teiona's style, because she's really the one who started the mixture of hard and soft elements craze and I love her for it too!

Teiona's advice to other fashionista's is to "keep it cute," and her current favorite trend to see is the headband. While Teiona is still in high school, her outfit speaks volumes to her level of sophistication, at least in her closet. But her sunny disposition and giggly personality said that she's still a kid at heart. So maybe that's what we're missing, Pittsburgh, especially this spring, let's try to keep it cute and youthful! Happy Weekend, everyone!

Glam for the Cure

Last night I had the opportunity to go to Style & Steel's Second Annual Glam for the Cure. The event, which was held at Olive or Twist in downtown Pittsburgh, could easily be defined as fabulous.

Style & Steel's GLAM FOR THE CURE
Glam for the Cure 2 was an event to support and raise funds for the Pittsburgh branch of Susan B. Komen and was a showcase of local fashions and other vendors, topped off with three fashion shows of local boutiques. I brought along my lovely friend Lindsay and have to admit that we felt much like Carrie and Samantha from Sex and the City, the whole night.

The three fashion shows were put on by Chic Boutique, Flawless Fashions and Fashion AFRICANA. Each of these places are located in Pittsburgh and each brought a fierce line of clothing to the runway. Chic Boutique showcased a lot of pretty pieces, starting off with a beautiful spring look of pastel peach pants and a flowy cream and white top and finishing with club wear, full of short hemlines and sequins. Chic Boutique defiantly showed that they have something for every young woman. From something cute for class, something classy for a date to something wild for a night out with the girls, this boutique has it all.

Flawless Fashions was up next with their line full of dresses and bold prints. They, as well as Chic Boutique, are located in Squirrel Hill on Murray Ave. Flawless Fashions also brought feminine aspects to the runway and mixed them with hard details, one of my favorite outfits of theirs was a lace top with leather pants and sky high heels. Fashion AFRICANA though was a standout with the finale, their last piece on the runway was my favorite of the whole night, I wish I took a picture of it because there's no way to perfectly describe it's design. But the print was bold and popped with a bright orange/red tone and the piece was a looooong strapless dress with a bit of a train, slit up the front and belted at the waist. Loved it. The model wearing it walked barefoot, but because of the length of that dress, I'd rock it with some major high heels so it would get completely shown off.

My Samantha (aka: Lindsay) with her makeover winnings!
Speaking of the models, they were fierce. I hope someone in the modeling world was there last night, because a few of those girls could easily win America's Next Top Model and do Pittsburgh proud. They were so good. As for Olive or Twist, I need to hang out there more. The event was held in an upstairs lounge, but the drinks and food was yummy and I loved the decor and the overall atmosphere of the whole thing. A+ on location. Needless to say Lindsay and I had a fabulous evening and even walked away with some prizes! Who wouldn't have fun with makeovers and boutique gift cards given to them on the way out?!


As one closes, another opens...

Well, this is a bit long overdue considering I went to both of these galleries on Friday but, sometimes life happens and you have to deal with the more important things first. But, better late than never.

On Friday, I went to two galleries to check out the work - I was very excited to see both of these exhibits because both were said to be featuring forms of travel, which I would love to do more of. The first, was at 709 Penn Gallery and had new work by Melissa Kuntz the exhibit called Caravan, showcased paintings that were mainly of RVs. I loved every piece. I loved that the canvases still looked wet from the paint, each of them shinny and new. I loved the solid and bold painting style. I loved how Melissa's point of view seemed to come in at an atypical angle, not just straight on and boring. I just loved each piece. Friday (April 13th) was the closing of this exhibit and I'm sorry that I did not go to see it sooner and comment on it, because if you didn't see it, you really missed out on some quality art. And who would have thought I can be that passionate about a bunch of paintings of trailer homes?

The other exhibit I went to was going on at Future Tenant and was actually the opening reception. This was actually the first opening or closing art reception that I have gone to where I did not know the artist, so I kind of felt that that girl that was crashing the party. I'm also one of those people who likes to go about an exhibit by myself so I can make my own observations and take my time looking at certain pieces. (Yes, I am lame.) I might have to go back to this one to get that full effect and to actually appreciate it more. But I also loved this exhibit. This work was right up my alley...or runway rather, since a lot of the pieces here featured airplanes.

"Your Life is an Accident" by Johnathan Chamberlain
At Future Tenant, the exhibit is currently running through May 5th and features artwork by Arthur Mohagen III, Johnathan Chamberlain and John Phillip Abbott is called Broken Slogan. I really liked this exhibit as well because of the focus on travel, but also because there was a quite a bit of text used in each work and if I was an artist, I would put text on everything. I also liked that the guys did more than just paintings, but drawings, sketches and some objects as well. My favorite piece though was done by Johnathan Chamberlain, who is also a Pittsburgh native, called "Your Life is an Accident." I thought the emotion in the work was real and I also liked his use of vertical lines, which to me created a disconnect between the two main figures in the work.

I would suggest checking out Broken Slogan while it's here in Pittsburgh, I can easily say that you will not be disappointed in the technique each artist obviously has and the fresh look on what is art, is not only evident, but poetic throughout each piece represented.  You can do so either on your own during their hours, or there is also a Gallery Crawl on Friday, April 27th from 5:30pm until 9pm, where you'll be able to access every gallery downtown, you might see me out and about there!


Equal Pay Day: Pittsburgh

"Choose a field, choose a job, doesn't matter, we get robbed. Women's wages are crawling along..." were the first words I heard as I made my way over the the middle of Market Square during this afternoon's Equal Pay Day rally, organized by the Women and Girls Foundation. Last year, while I was still in my undergrad at Seton Hill, I planned an Equal Pay Day rally for Greensburg, Pa, with a grant from the Women and Girls Foundation so I felt compelled to go and show my support today in Market Square.

Signs like this were everywhere! Will Work for Change!
Each year, since 2005, the Women and Girls Foundation has been organizing and supporting these rallies all over the place so it was exciting for me to see this rally and hear the messages since this was the "main" Equal Pay Day rally. Before it all started, women (and men!) were gathering around and checking out the information booths set up near the middle of the square of different women's rights groups. Among them were the Women and Girls Foundation, the YWCA, the Women's Law Project, New Voices of Pittsburgh, AAUW and some others that I'm probably forgetting, but who are just as important. It was so great to see all of these groups joined together for the day; handing out information, registering voters, selling PayDay candy bars (my favorite!), collecting tote bags to give to families who rely on the food bank, signing petitions that deal with women's issues and just all kinds of interesting little projects going on. The energy of the event was empowering in itself!

Heather Arnet speaking at the rally.
As I said, last year I planned an event like this in Greensburg and even though it was pouring that day, I was so surprised at our turnout and how many people came out to support the cause and essentially, stand up for such a big issue while standing in the rain. I'm still was so surprised by how many people, women and men, support this issue, yet nothing seems to be done about it. While, Heather Arnet, who as of today was added to my list of favorite women, and is the CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation said that the wage gap in Southwestern Pennsylvania has gotten smaller in the last few years (from 69 cents to every dollar men make, to now 77 cents) what's disheartening is that there still is a wage gap. The fact that I may one day land an awesome position in a company and be paid less than the guy next to me, while we're doing the same job, blows my mind. But I know that I would negotiate and stand my ground until something about that changed. I also know that I will actually more than likely be working harder than that guy and it will be easy for me to prove that because I'm a go-getter, so I can fight for myself, but it's women who think they cannot do that who I want to support.

Pay Day 2011 in Greensburg - Thank God for Victoria's Secret umbrellas!
That's why I love these rallies, I love that there are strong women, standing up for themselves, while standing up for their sisters. Nothing makes me more upset than girl vs. girl crap in the corporate world or in life in general. I know that sometimes I'm guilty of this too, but it's time that we stand together as women - nothing will change until we make that change.

A couple of things that I loved about this rally were 1) so many younger voices! I'm so tired of this generation being called apathetic, to see younger women and men in the crowd and speaking made me so proud. 2) when it was said that for women there is no disconnect between educational, reproductive or economic issues and that they all connect to each other - this point is so true and needs to be treated as such, and 3) "When will we stop being nice about inequality?" - I'm wondering the same thing. I don't think that if the tables were turned that men would be as nice as women have been about this issue. So I guess if we want paid like the boys, it's time we act like them when it comes to issues that matter to us...only we'll do it with class, and for me and I'm sure some others...in heels.

Fashion Forward Fridays: Meet Channing!

This week's Fashion Forward Friday Fashionista was so easy to find. This afternoon, I went to the Equal Pay Day Rally in Market Square (which will be on the blog later) and instantly spot Channing and knew I would have to talk to her after the rally. As you may know, or if you read last week's FFF blog with Carly, since Pittsburgh was named the third worst-dressed city by GQ, I'm now on the hunt to prove them wrong. And if more people dressed like Channing or at least shared her mentality for clothes, it would be so much easier to do!

So many colors! Love, love, love!
What first drew me to her was easily the amount of color in her outfit. As Carly said last week, and Channing echoed today, people should not be afraid to use color in their choice of clothes and I just love that sentiment. She said that bright and rich colors like oranges and purples are her favorites to work with and that she also likes to mix different fabric and textures, which is evident in her outfit choice for today.

Notice how great Channing paired different colors, textures and fabrics together.
Love these flats with the detailing of that little bow!
Since Channing actually works for the Women and Girls Foundation, the organizers of the rally, while also being a CMU graduate student, she needs to have a professional look, but I was so thrilled to see a personality in her outfit while still remaining professional. Channing said, very enthusiastically I might add, that she is a Maxxinesta, which means she loves shopping at T.J. Maxx. While she said she occasionally likes to shop at boutiques as a reward to herself, T.J. Maxx is her favorite because it offers great designer brands for way less.

As for some advice for other fashionistas (or aspiring fashionistas) out there Channing urges to always make your look memorable. Whether it's an accessory item, what shoes you wear or a special piece to your outfit, always make sure to leave a lasting impression. She also advises to wear clothes that suit your body type and flatter your figure and not to follow trends just because, but instead wear what makes you feel good. As Channing said, "if you feel good then you'll look good too." So wear what works for you and wear it with confidence! Happy weekend, Pittsburgh!


Be Our Guest...in Pittsburgh!

Over the course of last week, the national tour of Beauty and the Beast made its way to Pittsburgh via Heinz Hall. And since I'll assume that everyone has seen either the movie, in the past 21 years that it's been out, the musical or the modern day adaption of the story (aka: Beastly) then I'll skip past the part of how the plot goes and go right to what was onstage.

"Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test!"
I was accompanied to the show with friend and fellow blogger, Isaac and both of us went into seeing this show in a pretty biased light. He did it more recently in a community theater experience and I did it back in my sophomore year of high school which was "the first high school in Pennsylvania" to do it, not that I can find any information about that online since I guess 2004 was too early to post everything on the Internet. But I think I was a little more biased than he was.

Lets start with some basics that I didn't really like - which, when you think about the overall production, were not really a big deal. First, the costumes were a pet peeve of mine, simply because I thought they were too humanized. And although I'm not a fan of making any one's job harder than it already is, some of these characters are larger than life and should have been portrayed that way. I remember when I was in this show, some of my fellow cast-mates struggled getting on and off stage, especially Cogsworth, Madame de la Grande Bouche and Mrs. Potts, so it was a little disappointing to see them not really looking like the object they portrayed. And I'm sure that if kids found a way to do to in Lincoln High School, they certainly could do it with the size of the wings I'm sure Heinz Hall has. Also, the scenery, because it is a touring show and nothing can really remain on a specific stage, nothing was stationary and it was all a lot less grand then expected. However, despite these two things, the costumes and scenery served their purposes as they were meant to and I only questioned for a split second what Madame de la Grande Bouche was since her drawers were not obvious, besides that, everything worked well for its intended use.

However, two things that were kind of upsetting that were less easy to get over were the lack of the battle scene and the Beast's change back into a human. The battle scene, which is between the Mob Song, where Gaston rallies the villagers to find the Beast and the fight between the Beast and Gaston was cut out of this production. While I'm not sure why it was cut, I can imagine that it was a timing issue or just a blocking fiasco. As I said I was in this show before so I understand that it's not always an ideal scene to work with, since it has to look like mass chaos, but at the same time must be very well choreographed so no one gets hurt. I just would have liked to see another group's battle scene considering it was one of my favorite scenes to actually perform. Also, the changing of the Beast, started fabulous with him being lifted and spun (just like the movie!) but ended with a bright strobe light that left me blinded for a minute, which left me feeling kinda cheated. Like was blinding the audience they only way you could change him from Beast to human? I'm still not sure of all of the specific details of how our Beast changed into a human. I know it involved a swig actor, a fog machine and a baby strobe light, but even from watching that scene from the wings, it looked fantastic and I give major props to our directors because I know we did it without blinding the audience to switch actors.

Now, since I do not want to be labeled that girl who bashed Beauty and the Beast and it was not in my agenda to simply hate the production, lets seriously talk about what I did love. I adored this cast. They each were so well versed in the personalities of their characters and nothing seemed forced, which sometimes is hard for a cast to avoid when doing a Disney show, since the characters just seem too nice sometimes. This cast was fluid and made everything else that looked like a flaw to me disappear. Emily Behny was gorgeous in this role as Belle. At first I was unsure whether or not I would like her because her voice is very musical theater, which isn't my style, but she won me over time and time again. During "A Change In Me" she really let her voice belt and absolutely killed it, she was fabulous. Also, always fan favorites, Cogsworth (James May), Lumiere (Michael Haller), Madame de la Grande Bouche (Jen Bechter) and Mrs. Potts (Julia Louise Hosack) all made fabulous objects come to life on stage. These characters are easily pointed to as some people's favorites since they have the great little punch-lines and over-the-top character personalities. These actors and actresses were a phenomenal supporting cast.

"...now that I'm grown I eat five dozen eggs, so I'm roughly the size of a barge."
However, the greatest one in my eyes was that dreamy hunk, Gaston, played by Logan Denninghoff. He was absolutely fabulous and reminded me of a young John Travolta, which is the best compliment I can give to an actor. I love John Travolta...SO. MUCH. Anyway, I loved Gaston and his little, always hilarious sidekick, LeFou (Jimmy Larkin). This combo was unbelievable and every time they came on stage, I knew the scene would be great. One of my favorite scenes to perform was a dance section to Gaston's song in the tavern and I was so thrilled to see that this cast also performed it. The "mug dance" as many have named it, is a showstopper and the really only other big dance scene besides "Be Our Guest" and was just as entertaining. Considering I still have the counts of when the mugs are supposed to click together stuck in my head since 2004, it was great to see the exact timing on stage at Heinz Hall.

"Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme..."
Now, on to the two greatest parts of the show. First being, THE DRESS. You know, the big, beautiful, yellow ballgown that Belle wears to dance with the Beast in, in the formal dinner scene. Basically the most iconic article of clothing I think a character has ever worn. When Emily Behny first appeared in the dress, I, like probably every other girl in the theater, was astonished. It glowed. She glowed in it. Perfect moment. I felt like it was a Say Yes to the Dress moment and thank God, Belle said yes. It was perfect. And I'm sure you can guess the one last thing that made this show top my charts, considering he's the only one I haven't mentioned yet, the Beast (Dane Agostinis) was flawless. I loved the little socially-awkward quirks that he brought out of his character that would be true to someone who was locked up as a hideous beast in a castle for his whole life. I don't think many actors think to bring out those attributes as much as he did and he was able to, in an instant, switch from awkward boy to ferocious beast perfectly. And of course, like a true girl that I am, he made me cry while singing "If I Can't Have Her." Sigh.

So, as you see overall, it was a great production. What really brought it to life though, was this cast. They were fabulous and regardless of what I thought of the stage they were performing on or the costumes they were in, overall they made it and enchanted evening for everyone there. And obviously I thought it was a great show since I bought a Belle t-shirt for myself on the way out! While the show is no longer in Pittsburgh, if you can catch it in another city, this cast is worth the travel. Or wait until the show comes back into the city...but that might be quite awhile from now.


Fashion Foward Fridays: Meet Carly!

A little while back, GQ named Pittsburgh as the third worst-dressed city. Talk about a blow to the ego for the City of Champions! But in an effort to show that we here in steel city know a thing or too about the catwalk - I am starting a new section to my blog called "Fashion Forward Fridays." Every Friday I will head out on the town in hopes of finding someone who could never show up on a worst-dressed list.

Carly at PPG Place
Today, although it looks like a gorgeous sunny day...it's freezing outside and windy. So just when I thought GQ might be right, I met Carly. Although she said she usually has brighter colors or has a dress on, the Pittsburgh wind brought out her winter gear again. What made me go to her was the confidence she had, while wearing maroon pants - usually color scares people, especially when it's something so obvious like pants.

Look closely to see a beautiful compass necklace!
Carly, who is a junior this year at Point Park University, said that she is just recently finding her style, which she described as relaxed and comfortable, yet still stylish. Which is obvious in the way she was dressed today. After considering today's weather, the average person seemed to throw on a pair of jeans and a hoodie, but Carly mixed it up with interesting pieces and a beautiful scarf. While she said she likes to shop at Forever 21 and H&M, Carly said that most of her clothes come from an online store that she is currently working with, called CoCo Mae.

After she told me about the store, which is now being run exclusively through its Facebook page, I had to check it out! Their page boasts that every piece featured on the site comes straight from emerging designers from around the world. Pretty cool if you ask me. Anyway, Carly's fashion advice to anyone else is to not be afraid of color, especially with spring coming up, she says not to be afraid of using pops of pinks or blues to brighten up your wardrobe. Below are some of my favorite pieces she had on. Happy Friday everyone!
These earrings say I <3 PGH...how perfect!!
Love her nail polish color as well!


Helping The Help?

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in Katz Plaza, finally snagging an available eye-bench, unheard of on a beautiful sunny day, and finished reading the last few chapters of The Help. After reading, like always, I took some notes on the book but looked around to see what was going on around me. Nothing out of the ordinary, but from the world of the book I was just in, the scene around me would have been unheard of.

Original Cover of The Help
If you've read the book or (cheated) and saw the movie first, which was recently in theaters, then you might understand what the scene around me was like. But if not, I'll put it plainly for you. I'm a white girl and around me was a crowd primarily of black people. While I cannot even imagine this ever being a problem, in the time of The Help, I would not have been very welcomed in that crowd and if I was raised "properly" I would have never sat there to beginning with. It blows my mind that people separated themselves in this kind of way for so long because one of the most important people in my life is black and I could not imagine life without him now. Granted, MJ and I still get looks when we're in certain areas but I still don't get it.

Kathryn Stockett's novel is beautiful. Primarily, it is told through the perspectives of three women, two black and one white. (Aibileen, Minny and Miss Skeeter.) And is about them wanting the write a novel from the point of view of the help about the white families they are employed by during the time of the 1960's. I loved how much detail was put in to each one of the characters, they were each so strong and beautiful in their own ways. I loved that each chapter took on a different character's perspective of what was going on, but you could always tell who was talking simply based on how they talked, and how they thought about the others and their daily lives.

I loved the character Aibileen the most. She actually reminded me of MJ's mama over and over again through this book. I just loved that she knew hard times and she got scared when taking big risks, but that her faith always guided her forward. She is just the most powerful character in the book and I'm sure in the movie too, since Viola Davis plays her, which automatically says power-woman in my mind. One of my favorite parts in the novel, which I'm hoping made it to the movie is right after their book comes out and there is a meeting at Aibileen and Minny's church. (For those of you who read the book, you should know what I'm talking about.) Firstly, I love this part because of the support that comes out but then, I cannot get over that Aibileen instantly thinks of Miss Skeeter instead of herself, wanting her to be there.

Miss Skeeter: Emma Stone, Minny: Octavia Spencer & Aibileen: Viola Davis
Throughout the novel, I had the feeling that I just couldn't believe this all was still going on in the 60's. Of course while I was learning about the Civil Rights movement in school I knew that was the time period for it, but now it seems like it wasn't that long ago. And to be honest, sometimes it still feels like we have not moved on too far from it. One of the major themes in the novel also struck me pretty hard, that all of these white children were raised by these black maids who loved them and taught them everything from their first words and potty-training to how to be proper ladies and driving cars. The book talks about all the children that Aibileen raises (17 in total) but still mentions that she cannot keep them from "becoming their mothers." Like no matter what she does or says to them, as children they will love her with everything they have but once they grow up and have families of their own, they become the same people their parents were, which usually included not being very nice to their help either. I loved the relationship between Aibileen and her "last baby" Mae Mobley. While her mother Elizabeth paid little attention to her, Aibileen always made sure that Mae understood that she was kind, smart and important, which warmed my heart every time it was mentioned in the book. (It's also the part some of us at work like to say to each other when we're getting a little stressed.)

Overall, I loved the book because I could really get into it. I saw myself as Miss Skeeter a lot, because I'm sure I would be the "rebel white girl who liked to write." I loved to hear about certain characters triumphs and loved to hear when not so awesome things happened to characters I did not like, just like in real life! (haha) I also really felt a part of it, because the dialect was so well written that I felt the Southern tone of each different character and their personality. My only complaint is that I'm getting tired of the idea that blacks cannot do anything without the help of white people. See: The Blindside or Freedom Writers for further information on that topic. I liked that Stockett seemed to be trying to steer away from that storyline by making Aibileen and Minny such powerful characters but the hint of it was still there. And to be real honest, we'll never get over the race issue in this country if the, whites as the upper-hand helpers, is always part of our basic plot.
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