Would You See 10 Plays in One Night?

When Mother Goose finally recovered from her Phantom of the Opera swoon (in fact it took nearly ten days), she found herself back in a theatre waiting for another show to begin. Actually waiting for TEN shows to begin!

There is a wonderful small place in Chicago, near the intersection of Milwaukee and Lawrence Avenues, appropriately called The Gift Theatre. They have a GREAT repertoire group, and every year about this time of year, they present a production of ten plays, each of them ten minutes long and IT IS A WONDERFULLY ENTERTAINING bit of showmanship.

My friend, Kay Martinovich, directed “Winsor McKay” — again, appropriately so. Kay holds a PhD in Theatre Arts and is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre at Northern Illinois University. She is a VERY special friend of the goose. Of course, her little jewel of a play was the most delicious to Mother Goose, and I chewed it up and swallowed it with great gusto.

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The other plays were all quite good, some better than others. Some quite funny, some quite thought-provoking, some quite sad, and of course, Mother Goose was completely offended by a couple of the short plays, but that’s OK.

It was a unique experience to be sure.

And naturally there was a bit of “coincidence” — as we were sitting in our seats, an older woman (yes, older than Mother Goose…) sat down next to us. As we began to chat a little, it turned out that she was one of Kay’s dearest friends and mentors of the stage world! You know that Mother Goose does not believe in “happenstance” or “accidents”, but only the wonderful providence and sovereignty of our loving God.

We had a LOVELY evening at The Gift Theatre…

And just a few days later, we attended ANOTHER play! Stay tuned!!!

Flapping about the Phantom

Mother Goose used to say, “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I get to see Phantom of the Opera on the stage…”

And then it happened! And thankfully, it was a cold day in Chicago not hell.

For twenty-five years, this story and opera ghost have been seen in theatres around the world — but never within the grasp of Mother Goose. I’ve heard the songs in my head for so long, seen the movie renditions of the Broadway productions and the Hollywood productions of the original screenplay, and read the original novel over and over. I have permanently sealed this tragic love story of the ages within the phantom’s lair of my fowl brain. “Where all will pay homage to moooooosic…. my moooooosic.”

And then the surprise announcement that this new production by Sir Cameron Mackintosh would indeed be stopping in Chicago for a short run at the Cadillac Palace Theatre! Imagine Mother Goose gasping at the thought! And then the gentle nudge to Husband Goose, “Oh dear Mark, look! Phantom of the Opera is coming to Chicago….wouldn’t it be wonderful to see it? What a sweet birthday gift it might make…”

And then within minutes, the electronic printer of the Goose starts its fussing and fuming indicating that it has a item of circumstance which it would like to share with us. And out of the printer, click by magical click, comes the TICKETS to see Phantom of the Opera at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago! OPENING NIGHT with seats in the first row of the Circle Section, center of the house, just above the main floor. Prime real estate!

And then Mother Goose fainted away…

One month later, here she is, glowing from head to toe with anticipation of the show…

Natalie at Cadillac Palace with a Phantom

Cadillac Palace Theatre with Phantom

I believe that we were most fortunate to see Cooper Grodin in the title role on this opening night. Originally cast as Joseph Buquet and the understudy for the phantom at previous stops and venues along the road, Mr. Grodin was a perfect new Phantom. His amazing energy and haunting voice simultaneously thrilled, frightened and delighted this goose.

Julia Udine was wonderful as Miss Christine Daae, just wonderful. Though I am not a fan of Raoul, I must say that Ben Jacoby totally nailed his character and his singing is really beautiful.

As you know, I am not a professional reviewer of theatrical productions and know next to nothing about Broadway shows and would never claim to be an expert about anything remotely musically dramatic. But I will say here and now that the current production of Phantom of the Opera is a spectacle beyond my wildest dreams.

More lovely than I could ever imagine.

The music, the melodies soar as I knew they would.

The sets were more grand and majestic and more wonderful than anything I had ever seen on the stage.

The phantom’s boat did indeed move miraculously across the stage.

The smokey mirrors made “Masquerade” more surreal than I ever thought possible.

I gasped, I cried, I clapped my hands in wonder like an amazed child at her first play.

Quite possibly, I will never again be impressed with another musical production because the Phantom has spoiled me so terribly — I shall never love again as I have loved that evening. The Music of the Night will haunt me ’til I pass from this world…

Words cannot express, alas they fail me so terribly, as I try to describe the show to you dear and loyal readers. I would tell it from the perspective of a goose, but you could never grasp the glory unless you see it for yourself. It would break my heart to say more — I would never want to steal your joy and ecstasy at seeing and hearing this incredibly marvelous production for yourself.

Only trust a goose when I say, “Do not miss this Phantom of the Opera.”

A standing ovation to Mark for taking me to see the show of the century!  THANK YOU, dear!!

A standing ovation to Mark for taking me to see the show of the century! THANK YOU, dear!!

The Goose is Back

Mother Goose is back. After a much needed sabbatical, I’m rested and recovered and revived and ready to tell some brand new stories. Who can ever tell why a goose must take a break from her blog? Who can explain the sudden aversion to the compound word, WordPress? How do some writers keep writing and some need to fall off the wagon for awhile?

Obviously, life for these past six weeks have been jam-packed with adventures — to be sure, my life has never lacked for subject matter. We had a lovely Christmas holiday, a fun and surprising New Year (yes, Mother Goose woke from a deep sleep and jumped off the couch at exactly midnight, surprising the family with a dance that included much jumping and flapping and merriment!) and January has proven to be one theatrical performance after another.

Whew! The goose has been on the loose!

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? How’s that working for you? It’s been nearly a month since January 1, and my resolution is still holding strong. And here is what I resolve for 2014:

Always dance in the Kitchen.

In the home of Mother Goose, the kitchen is the place where most of the action takes place and most of the goslings hang out. What better place to dance? One of the priceless gifts I received for my birthday last month was a G-Pop wireless and bluetooth audio speaker, and so I simply connect my favorite Pandora stations to the G-Pop and CRANK IT UP.

Pandora radio is such fun! I have created nearly one hundred channels! So much selection, so many favorites, so many thumbs up! Since the beginning of the year, I have been mostly listening to the Family Road Trip station and the Lenny Kravitz station. Yes, I know — eclectic tastes for a goose, indeed.

Anyway, imagine the scene as Mother Goose is preparing the meals:

There is twirling and whirling, stepping and stomping, dipping and tripping, wings extended and tail wagging.

There is giggling and wiggling, peeking and winking, oblivious to the stares and intensity beyond compare.

goosedancing

Mother Goose has found the perfect combination of exercise and entertainment — it’s good for the goose and good for the gander!

They may laugh at my moves, but in the long run, they will remember this has been a very Happy New Year.

I hope you’ll return tomorrow to hear the story of Mother Goose and the Phantom of the Opera, opening night at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago….oh my gooseness!

Art Matters to a Goose

Many of my loyal readers have asked, “Mother Goose, does art even matter in this high-tech society?”

This story will address that question, and I’m sure that my most astute readers will already know the answer…

Mother Goose was kindly invited to join her friend, Linda, and Linda’s dear daughter, Sarah, on a trip to visit Chicago’s world-reknown Art Institute. Because I live in Oak Park (which is actually the center of the Universe), I was able to easily catch an “El” train downtown whereas my two lady friends had to ride in to the city from the far distant suburbs on a Metra passenger train. I arrived at the museum several minutes before they did and was able to take an early morning picture of one of the iconic lions.

You can almost see a lion behind the iconic head of Mother Goose...

You can almost see a lion behind the iconic head of Mother Goose…

The ladies arrived in due time, and together we began our exploration of the ever-growing and ever-changing Art Institute of Chicago. We made a unanimous decision to run quickly to the place of the special exhibit, “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity”.

This exhibit was wonderfully educational and inspirational. We ladies especially love the Impressionistic style of art — in fact, it’s really the only part of the museum that we ever see. Something about the colors, the great globs of paint, the light in the paintings, the Frenchness of it all. We absolutely adore Impressionism!

This exhibit looks at the fashion of the time, French haute couture, of course. The paintings are arranged topically and with the added bonus of seeing the actual dresses from those fashionable times. What a thrill to see the painting alongside the actual dress worn by the model in the painting! Mother Goose nearly fainted from the historic wonder of it all.

Unfortunately, photography was not allowed within the area of the special exhibit. We frowned and made little mutters about that strict rule…but as soon as we left the special exhibit, our 21st century cameras clicked crazily in all directions. Well, actually, only the camera of Mother Goose was flashing and clicking as Sarah’s REALLY nice camera died of uncharged battery syndrome.

Let’s just let these photos speak for themselves…

"At the Moulin Rouge" by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

“At the Moulin Rouge” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

"Water Lilies" by Claude Monet

“Water Lilies” by Claude Monet

"Cafe Singer" by Edgar Degas

“Cafe Singer” by Edgar Degas

"Two Sisters (On the Terrace) Plus one" by Peirre-Auguste Renoir

“Two Sisters (On the Terrace) Plus one” by Peirre-Auguste Renoir

Does art even matter?

If you ask these ladies who laughed, lushed and looped around the Art Institute of Chicago for more than five hours without even realizing how quickly time flies when you’re loving art, the obvious answer is a loud honk and a resounding, YES!

P.S. We also toured a related exhibit: “Undressed: The Fashion of Privacy” which explored informal dress and undress. Mother Goose was asked to stop her gawking and twitters in these galleries — seeing so many nudes makes a goose giggle nervously.

A Goose in a Garden

An unprecedented number of my readers expressed concern at yesterday’s post, “Wonderfully Wordless Wednesday.” There were an abundance of questions regarding the circumstances as well as the latest condition of Mother Goose as a result of that spill. I believe it’s time to set the record straight on that photograph…

First of all, Mother Goose is OK. I’ve suffered some patches of road rash, perhaps garden rash would be more accurate, to my left knee and a deeper gash to my lower calf, but thankfully no blood and no broken bones. Probably a side ache from laughing hysterically…

Mother Goose has been known to take a spill off her bike a few times in her life — always with a dramatic flair and an attitude of hilarity. I remember so well at the age of five when my father removed one of the training wheels from my bike, and then told me to just pedal and steer down the driveway. Of course, I quickly crashed into the rose bush.

[You may also remember that Dad taught me to drive a manual transmission car by pointing it up hill and telling me to just let the clutch out slowly whilst I give it a little gas…]

My dear sweet sister, upon hearing the news of last night’s garden crash, was quick to recall the time in junior high when our family had just moved to Hibbing — I immediately leaped aboard my bike and proceeded to explore the new neighborhood in high style. Unfortunately, my pedal caught the curb and down I went, sprawled out in the grass for all the world to see and laugh at.

My daughters and I have been enjoying this summer from the seats of our bikes — we free range about the town, checking in at various parks and places at all hours of the day or night. Last evening we had pedaled like mad to Taylor Park where we observed some serious tennis and climbed like monkeys to the tops of the playground equipment. We raced to friend Regina’s home to show off the new rear hubs on daughter Jessi’s trick bike — she can pedal backwards OR forwards and it’s called a “fixie”.

Sometimes we pedal with great purpose — sometimes we just meander around the streets and parkways of Oak Park. Sometimes we hear the song of Almira Gulch as we ride along. But always we laugh because we are so happy when we are riding.

The strange episode from last evening not only had me laughing my goose-like head off, but also warranted the uncommon concern of passersby who had witnessed the clown show and wondered as to my well-being. It’s probably a good thing that nobody offered me a breathalyzer…

I was coming in for a landing, trying to aim between the parked car and the flower bed. I realized that I was losing altitude rapidly and my air speed was perhaps just a little too fast for the weather conditions.

And then that s…l…o…w… motion fall.

Crashing slowly into the deer statue in our garden and breaking it off its stand.

Running over the candy-striped peppermint petunias.

Falling and falling, wondering if I would survive and if I did survive, what would be my quality of life…

Smashing across the concrete flower pot which felt like a boulder to my goose bottom.

And with my head landing under the giant leaves of the hosta, Mother Goose joyfully enjoyed the view from the lowly perspective of a bunny in a garden.

A lesson to be learned? The moral of the story?

Nah… We only live once — go for the gusto and the laughs! And just remember: a goose in a garden is a delight to behold!

I just had to post it one more time -- it's just so funny!

I just had to post it one more time — it’s just so funny!

Wonderfully Wordless Wednesday

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The Silver Star Inn is the Better Inn for a Goose

The Silver Star Country Inn just south of Spring Green, Wisconsin

The Silver Star Country Inn just south of Spring Green, Wisconsin

Mother Goose and Co. arrived safely at The Silver Star Country Inn on Friday night. Our room, The Aperture Room, had mirrors, but not on the ceiling…

Mirrors on the dresser where they belong...

Mirrors on the dresser where they belong…

We quickly opened a bottle of local white wine, Prairie Fume, made at the Wollersheim Winery in nearby Prairie du Sac. We relaxed in the lovely rustic cabin setting, forgetting the horrors of all we had experienced at The Don Q Inn…

Please pass the bottle of wine, dear Gander...

Please pass the bottle of wine, dear Gander…

The next morning we enjoyed the most wondrous breakfast out on the front deck with the hummingbirds as our companions.

Two little hummers out of hundreds whirring above our heads.

Two little hummers out of hundreds whirring above our heads.

Our gracious innkeeper, Jean, prepared the creme de la creme of French toast for our culinary pleasure.

It just doesn't get any better than this for breakfast.  The ol' catfish dinner is long forgotten...

It just doesn’t get any better than this for breakfast. The ol’ catfish dinner is long forgotten…

The Don Q Inn with a Twist of Goose

To continue on with the travelogue of a goose, we left Grandview and headed up the road, around and around through detours and through the rolling “driftless” land of southwestern Wisconsin until we reached the village of Dodgeville.

We were famished and nearly faint with hunger.

We stopped at a Quik Stop and asked an elderly couple where was the best place to get a dinner in Dodgeville. Figuratively speaking, elderly people usually know the diners in town.

They gave us the classic reply:

“Well….you go back up town there a ways, about three blocks to the light and take a left if you want some barbecue food and live music… That’s Bob’s Bitchin’ BBQ.” The old people actually said the “b” word…

We shook our heads.

“Oh well….then there’s Sam and Maddie’s on your way out of town. That’s right next to Don Q’s Inn, you know that place with the big ol’ airplane parked right out front. Good steaks there and nice family place. Can’t miss it…..just up this way, take a left, take a right past the gas station…”

Well, for gooseness sakes, that sounded interesting to Mother Goose and her dear Gander — hunger will drive you to eat even at a place with a big ol’ airplane parked right out front.

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“Unique in All the World”, the Don Q Inn is actually one of those scary “theme” hotels with rooms bearing these names:

Jungle Safari
Sherwood Forest
cupid’s Corner
Casino Royale
Arabian Nights
The Cave
Caesar’s Court
Paradise Cove
Up, Up and Away
Shotgun
Swinger
Mid-Evil

Nearly all rooms are decorated just as you’d imagine with mirrors on the ceiling, heart-shaped whirlpools or 300 gallon copper cheese vat bathtubs. Yes, 300 gallon copper cheese vat bathtubs.

The Steeple Room is obviously on the right...

The Steeple Room is obviously on the right…

So we made our way through the lobby of the Inn and into the secret passageway to the Sam and Maddy’s Restaurant which, of course, is in the barn of the estate because this is Wisconsin after all.

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Hungrily licking the menu, we devoured a basket of deep-fried dill pickles and for our entre, we finally decided on the porterhouse steak with double-baked tater for the dear Gander and some deep-fried walleye for the Goose. But we soon found that what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander in this instance…

The steak was quite delicious I was told — aged and grilled to perfection. However Mother Goose took one look at the “walleye” and realized that I had been duped once again! This was no fine northern Wisconsin fresh walleye, batter-dipped and deep-fried, but just a plain old oven-baked catfish.

HONK! HONK!!

But you know Mother Goose….not one to complain about a meal or make a scene about a fish mistake. I politely picked at it a little. When the young server asked how everything was, dear Gander asked her what kind of fish she had served to Mother Goose, and she brightly chimed in that it was a walleye.

But Mother Goose knows it was not a walleye. Mother Goose is from Minnesota for gooseness sakes — land of 10,000 lakes and over 10,000 fresh walleye caught daily.

We left Sam and Maddie’s dining room in a huff when we had finished our meal. And then we noticed another secret passageway — this one leading UNDERGROUND!

"Just walk this way, Mother Goose."

“Just walk this way, Mother Goose.”

Oh the dreadful smell, the horrible despicable sights within that “tunnel of despair”…

WHAT?

WHAT?

"Don't look behind you, Mother Goose!"

“Don’t look behind you, Mother Goose!”

"Get me outta heeeeere now!"

“Get me outta heeeeere!”

Whew!

You won’t want to miss the next episode in the travelogue of Mother Goose where we check into The Silver Star Inn (for the third year in a row).

The Goose Goes to Grandview

This past weekend, Mother Goose and her dear Gander made the annual pilgrimage to Spring Green, Wisconsin to commemorate their wedding anniversary. Along the way, they discussed many items they had forgotten to bring along with them, including the drops and ointments for the eyes of Mother Goose AND the list of suggested attractions to visit whilst they were in the area. Of course, these were the attractions which were suggested by Mother Goose and not necessarily the attractions approved by her dear Gander who had secretly loaded his golf bag into the trunk of the Goosemobile…

As they drove nearer and nearer to their destination, Mother Goose suddenly recognized the name of the town of Hollandale. She remembered that one of her many desired attractions was a place named Grandview, just outside of Hollandale. Dear Gander looked slightly hesitant as she directed him to the quaint little folk art and touristy location, but happily obliged when he saw her beaming face upon their arrival.

The sign simply says it all...

The sign simply says it all…

Mother Goose quickly leaped out of the car, nearly falling down in her excitement. She grabbed her Coolpix camera and sprinted towards the entrance to the park — dear Gander close behind her.

I'm sure the suspense is just killing you right now...

I’m sure the suspense is just killing you right now…

Here are the wondrous sights which met her eyes!

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The inventive genius creator and artist of this space was Austrian immigrant, Nick Engelbert, who came to Wisconsin with his beautiful Swiss bride in 1922. He began creating these amazing concrete sculptures in the 1930’s as he recovered from a sprained ankle. By the mid ’50’s, his yard was completely filled with these whimsical characters. His home and workshop are made of stone and concrete, covered with glass mosaic tiles and scraps of broken bottles in all colors.

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It was a mythical place, a mind-blowing attraction. Aren’t you glad that my dear Gander stopped there?

Are you wondering where Mother Goose and her dear Gander went for dinner that night? You must return for THAT interesting story…

Mother Goose at the Marathon

I felt the wind in my feathers as it gusted off Lake Michigan, and I was chilled to the bone with the cold mist in the air. But I stayed with the pack and didn’t falter as I volunteered to help with the Soldier Field 10 mile marathon this past weekend. Perhaps you were beginning to think that Mother Goose was out RUNNING ANOTHER marathon

Sometimes she runs, and sometimes she volunteers to hand out water to the amazing finishers of the race.

As the sun rose over beautiful Lake Michigan and over the exhibit tents in the after-race area, we donned our official T-shirts over our hoodies and leather jackets in preparation for our volunteer service.

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This was the tenth year of the Soldier’s Field 10 Mile, and a record number of runners took the challenge. In fact, Mother Goose handed water bottles to 17,500 thirsty, dehydrated and depleted runners in Chicago on Saturday morning. WOW!

Husband Goose and myself arrived at the historic stadium at the appointed and nearly ungodly time of 5:00 a.m. to check in with the wonderful people from Salute Inc. Salute Inc. was one of the honored beneficiaries of this race which is almost to say that not only did they sponsor it, but it was a fundraiser for them. A pretty huge fundraiser, for sure.

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Our very first event was to assist in the Kids Blitz. Those little kids were so excited to actually be on the ground, on the exact field where their favorite team, the Chicago Bears play. In fact, it was pretty surreal for Mother Goose, too!

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And then we volunteers built a wall of water right there in the stadium, right in the end zone, in the exact spot where so many football battles have been fought.

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The first runner entered the arena and crossed the 50-yard line, the Finish Line, with a time of 49 minutes and 57 seconds! He ran TEN MILES in less than 50 minutes! I will tell you that Mother Goose ran her 5K (3.1 miles) last year with a finishing time of 42 minutes…not quite as fast. His name is Dan Kremske and he didn’t even look slightly exhausted, obviously he’s done this sort of thing before.

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More and more runners crossed that finish line over the next three hours. Every single one of them a hero in their own right with stories to tell and battle scars to show off to family and friends. We were completely amazed at the endurance and the joy of these men and women. Of course, Mother Goose was completely disabled after her race — not at all full of vim and vigor to attend any sort of after-race party activities.

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It was a GREAT TIME for everybody — runners received medals from the hands of American servicemen and women, the Gatorade and waters flowed sweetly. There were bananas all around for a little potassium lift.

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We were inspired by the events of the day, and do not be surprised if you see Mother Goose crossing that 50-yard line next spring! Serving water to the runners is fun, but not as much fun as running on rubbery feet for ten miles along Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive…
Stay tuned.

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And God bless you today.

Love, Mother Goose

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