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D23 2019: Disney on Broadway is Coming to D23!

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Disney on Broadway is thrilled to return to D23 Expo, in Anaheim, California, to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Join Broadway’s brightest stars as they present an exclusive concert, Disney on Broadway: A 25th Anniversary Celebration, in Hall D23 on Saturday, August 24, at 3:30 p.m.
Hosted by Tony Award-nominee Gavin Lee (Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast), the 75-minute concert will feature Heidi Blickenstaff (Freaky Friday, The Little Mermaid), Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, On The Record), Kissy Simmons (The Lion King), Josh Strickland (Tarzan) and Alton Fitzgerald White (The Lion King). A six-piece band, led by Jim Abbott, will accompany performers as they lead the audience through Disney on Broadway’s Tony Award-winning catalogue. The performance will feature songs from Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aida, Tarzan, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, Newsies, Aladdin, Freaky Friday and Frozen. (Talent is subject to change)

Disney on Broadway fans can also celebrate this milestone anniversary by visiting the VR (virtual reality) theatre on the D23 Expo floor. The brand-new VR experience puts you center stage in AladdinFrozen and The Lion King’s biggest Broadway production numbers, featuring Broadway’s Caissie Levy (Elsa), Major Attaway (Genie), Telly Leung (Aladdin) and Tshidi Manye (Rafiki).

About Disney on Broadway: A 25th Anniversary Celebration performers:
(Talent is subject to change)

Heidi Blickenstaff most recently created the body-swapping role(s) of Katherine (and Ellie) in Disney’s Freaky Friday for Disney Channel and Disney Theatrical Productions (Helen Hayes and Outer Critics nominations). On Broadway, Heidi was most recently seen as Bea Bottom in the 10-time Tony-nominated Something Rotten! (Outer Critics and Grammy nominations). Disney on Broadway audiences might remember Heidi as Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  Other Broadway credits include The Addams Family (Alice Beineke), The Full Monty and Tony-nominated [title of show], the original Broadway musical Heidi and her friends made about four friends making an original Broadway musical. Some favorite regional shows include Next to Normal (Diana) at the Weston Playhouse and First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb at the Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre and recorded for PBS. Heidi can be seen and heard on the DVDs of Freaky Friday and PBS’s First You Dream as well as on many Broadway and concert albums available wherever music and DVDs are sold. www.heidiblickenstaff.com

Ashley Brown originated the title role in Mary Poppins on Broadway for which she received Outer Critics, Drama League and Drama Desk nominations for “Best Actress.” Ms. Brown also starred as Mary Poppins in the national tour of Mary Poppins where she garnered a Garland Award for “Best Performance in a Musical.” Ms. Brown’s other Broadway credits include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, as well as starring in the national tours of Jack O’Brien’s The Sound of Music and Disney’s On the Record. Ms. Brown has starred in both Oklahoma! and Showboat at Chicago’s Lyric Opera and has performed with virtually all of the top orchestras in North America including the Boston Pops (twice), the New York Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at Disney Hall, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall (five times), Fort Worth Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops and Philadelphia Orchestra (twice). Ms. Brown’s PBS special called Ashley Brown: Call Me Irresponsible received a PBS Telly Award. Other television credits include NBC’s The Sound of Music. Ms. Brown is the voice of Disneyland celebrating its 60th anniversary singing the newly penned Richard Sherman song “A Kiss Goodnight.” Ms. Brown’s album of Broadway and American Songbook standards, Speak Low, and her newly recorded Christmas EP, The Secret of Christmas, are available on Ghostlight/Warner Brothers.

Gavin Lee just finished playing Lumière in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. In New York, he most recently played the Grinch at Madison Square Garden. Before this, he originated the role of Squidward in SpongeBob SquarePants the Broadway Musical (Drama Desk Award and Tony Award nomination). Before that, he played Thenadier in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables. He originated the role of Bert in the West End and Broadway productions of Mary Poppins (Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards, Olivier and Tony Award nominations). Gavin has appeared at Carnegie Hall in Showboat and in the world premiere of Holiday Inn at Goodspeed Opera House. TV credits include Law and Order: SVU, The Good Wife and White Collar. His favorite London theatre credits include Top Hat, Crazy for You, Peggy Sue Got Married, Me and My Girl, Over My Shoulder, Oklahoma!, Contact and Singin’ in the Rain. Gavin has performed his solo cabaret in New York, Chicago and on Disney Cruise Line.

Kissy Simmons is a native of Floral City, Florida, and graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.A. in Speech Communications. She was also a NCAA Division 1 Track and Field athlete. Kissy grew up playing the keyboard and singing in church, and was a State Champion high jumper at Citrus High School. After graduating from the University of South Florida, she got her professional theatre debut at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts where she was seen in Little Shop of Horrors (Ronnette), Jacques Brel and other seasonal cabaret shows. Broadway credits include: The Lion King (Nala). First national tour: The Lion King (Nala). Las Vegas: The Lion King (Nala). TV credits include Smash, Hope & Faith, 30 Rock, 6 Degrees and many commercials, voiceovers and print. Thank you, God for your grace and to my biggest fans Anthony and Sadie!

Josh Strickland is a native of Charleston, South Carolina. In 2006, Strickland created the leading role of Tarzan in Disney’s musical Tarzan® on Broadway. In 2009, he made his starring Las Vegas debut in Peepshow at Planet Hollywood Casino & Resort while concurrently co-starring in the hit E! reality show Holly’s World. Strickland debuted his first single “Report to the Floor,” which skyrocketed to the top five on the iTunes Dance Charts the first week of its release, followed by “Last Dance.” In 2013, Strickland joined the cast of Vegas! The Show at the Planet Hollywood Casino & Resort in Las Vegas in a starring role. Strickland has also appeared internationally with the all-star cast of Disney’s Broadway Hits, including the Emmy -winning concert at Royal Albert Hall in London, England. He most recently reprised his role as Tarzan in Disney’s musical Tarzan® in Oberhausen, Germany at the Stage Metronom Theatre. Twitter & Instagram: @joshuajstrick

Alton Fitzgerald White performed a record-breaking 4,308 performances as King Mufasa in The Lion King on Broadway. Alton recently added author and keynote speaker to his list of titles. His book, My Pride: Mastering the Challenge of Daily Performance, filled with secrets to fulfillment and joy in work and life, was recently published by Disney Editions. Other Broadway starring roles include Mister in The Color Purple, Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, Ken in Smokey Joe’s Cafe, John in Miss Saigon and The Hawker in The Who’s Tommy. Alton has performed concert dates all over the world. His best-selling CD Disney My Way!, along with autographed copies of his Disney book, are available at www.altonfitzgeraldwhite.com. Alton has had guest star roles on the hit TV series Law & Order, Bull, The Blacklist, The Good Fight, Code Black, Elementary, Mindhunter and Madam Secretary. He was most recently featured in the Pulitzer Prize-winning production of Rent which was performed live on Fox television. Please join him on his Facebook fan page, @WhiteAlton on Twitter, and @Alton2459 on Instagram.

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Frogfathers lessons from the Normandy surf

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Frog Fathers: Lessons from the Normandy Surf” is a deeply moving documentary directed by Bob Whitney, narrated by John C McGinley, and presented by World of Warships and FORCE BLUE. It chronicles the journey of four Navy SEAL veterans revisiting the site of the D-Day landings to honor their forefathers and gain a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made during World War II.

The film’s strength lies in its raw emotional impact and historical significance. It blends personal narratives with archival footage, offering a poignant tribute to the bravery and resilience of those who fought on June 6, 1944. The veterans’ reflections and the cinematography effectively capture the solemnity and reverence of their pilgrimage.

While the documentary focuses primarily on the veterans’ experiences, it also serves as an educational tool, highlighting the strategic importance of the Normandy invasion and its pivotal role in shaping modern history. The film’s respectful approach and engaging storytelling make it a compelling watch for anyone interested in military history and the enduring legacy of the D-Day heroes.

Overall, “Frog Fathers” is a powerful and heartfelt documentary that honors the past while inspiring present and future generations to remember the sacrifices made for freedom 

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American Horror Story: Delicate

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As most of us are already aware, the 12th Season of AHS has been fraught with all kinds of differences to the previous seasons, mainly in that this is the first one to be based entirely off a novel, ‘Delicate Condition’ by Danielle Valentine. The first half of the season aired in October 2023 to mediocre reviews, while the SAG-AFTRA strike caused production and airing delays for the latter half of the season, and the episodes of Part 2 were all cut to less than an hour long apiece. And none of that is even getting into the disjointed attempt at storytelling for Season 12, so let’s dive into this! 

Meet Anna Victoria Alcott (Emma Roberts), former young ling star of Hollywood now struggling to recapture fame as an adult, who wants a baby, very very badly. Bad enough to drive herself and her husband Dex (Matt Czuchry) through multiple unsuccessful rounds of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), bad enough to keep trying no matter how crushing each failure turns out to be, bad enough to involve her purported best friend and bougie publicist Siobhan Corbyn (Kim Kardashian) in her struggles, and maybe, just maybe, bad enough to give up on a burgeoning resurgence of her career after interest in her comeback role for The Auteur begins garnering her Oscar-worthy attention. 

So, Anna and Dex are going to go through yet another round of IVF, likely one of their last attempts at it, from a different doctor, Dr. Andrew Hill (Denis O’Hare), and clinic based on Siobhan’s recommendation. And already, strange things are beginning to happen to Anna – her appointments that she set herself begin springing up incorrectly, a doom saying woman called Preacher (Julia White) shows up spouting warnings about trusting no one, dire warnings appear in unlikely places, and BTW, it seems as though long-suffering but good-nurtured Dex has a side-piece too. It doesn’t help that Dex’s new partner at his art gallery, Sonia Shawcross (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), bears a striking resemblance to his dead ex-wife Adeline, either. Those spiked emerald heels start appearing weirdly too, and it seems as though no one will listen to Anna as she grows more and more suspicious that some sort of sinister cult has designs on her as-yet-unborn baby. At the same time, Anna tries to live the life of a successful returning actress, attending parties and gallery openings while draping her rapidly-expanding middle in shimmering fabrics and actively ‘campaigning’ for that little golden statue that most actors covet. Competition is fierce, even among her co-stars of The Auteur, and while Anna wants to be supportive of her fellow entertainers, she clearly appears to be incapable of doing both at the same time – wanting the baby and the little gold award at the same time is too much to ask, apparently. 

Elsewhere, mostly in the past, various women in states of desperation formed from one situation or another are visited by sinister-looking women in prim black dresses, headgear reminiscent of – to me anyway – an odd cross betwixt birds and bunnies, my guess is an ostensive nod to fertility in general, and a general feeling of blood-bound witchery about them at critical moments of crossroad choices. 

Though the second half of the season moves a good deal faster than the first, the attempts at callbacks and reminder flashes to Part 1 hit with all the impact of a dropped bag of garbage onto their friends Talia’s (Julia Canfield) borrowed bougie kitchen floor – splat, into incomprehensible silence, from all parties, both characters and audience, concerned. Even the reminders that, in Part 1 of Delicate Dex’s mother Virginia Harding (Debra Monk) did indeed have perfectly valid memories of abuse at the hands of a black cult and Dex’s own father Dex Sr. (Reed Birney), the revelation pales and peels away in the face of Dex’s true parentage. 

Which brings us back around full circle kinda sorta, to the only real character worth a damn in this entire miserable season of strange feminism and aspirations of world domination through a kind of idiotic Rosemary’s Baby nightmare scenario, we should have known she’d steal the show when Kardashian was cast for it, Siobhan Corbyn, leader of the blood cult her high and mighty (old) self. Throughout the whole show her character has remained exactly the same, and it’s a wonder Anna can stare at her all stupefied while Siobhan does her villain speech at the end of the last episode. Siobhan never masked her ambition or greed, her mysterious protective vibe and even deep love for Anna, and can always be counted on to have secret plans of her own, already in motion, bitch. 

The idea that Anna herself was used as a surrogate for Siobhan and her incestuous eugenicist plans, plus the sweet little demon baby she just birthed, has an ironic the-world-is-tilting-the-wrong-way kind of witchy madness to it. Sure, Anna really can have it all, the baby and the golden statue, if only she joins the patriarchy-crushing cabal of blood witches with world domination plans, got it. 

I have questions, or I would have, but things are moving on and Anna is being saved by … Dex’s dead ex, Adaline the former member of the coven right okay her, she’s going to show back up and offer Anna a simple chant to Hestia her patron Goddess, and that is somehow enough to deal with Siobhan entirely – poof. And finally, after all that rigamarole, decades of planning and scheming and witchy plotting finally settled, Anna really can have it all as a White Witch of Hollywood, heaven help us, with her perfectly human baby and that damned little golden statue, clutched in an only slightly desperate grip. 

As with any season of AHS there are a great deal of statements that could be implied just under the skin of the season – the canker way of ambition, the millenia-old pain of a woman giving birth, the savagery and bloodshed that comes with bringing forth life, pushback against both the patriarchy and ultra-feminism, the absolute desperation of humans wanting to have a child, and perhaps strangest and most open to interpretation of all, what it means to be feminine. The worlds population of women who can’t or don’t or simply won’t have children, for any reason or none, are relegated to servants, expendable servants at that, for this new world order that Siobhan is proposing, and that is far too close a comfort to things like outright slavery. A dictator is a dictator, no matter how great she looks in those emerald spiked heels. 

It’s not the really beautiful grotesquerie that Ryan Murphy and his AHS gang are often known for, nor is it utterly terrible and should be burned at the stake. What Delicate should be, is put back together with missing and cut footage, an hour long per episode again come on folks, fleshed some more of Siobhan’s baby-stealing adventures in the past and given us an actual reason to like anything about the whiny Anna, at least the Part 2 we as longtime AHS fans deserve. Toss in some more spidery hijinks! Give us the actual origin of those weird feather bunny-ear headdresses! 

American Horror Story Delicate the whole season can be seen on FX! 

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Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery in a World Gone Prehistoric!

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Hold onto your hats, dino fans! The highly anticipated sequel to the adrenaline-pumping Camp Cretaceous saga is here, and it’s taking us on a wild ride six years in the making. Following the harrowing events of Camp Cretaceous, our beloved “Nublar Six” are back, but they’re not out of the woods just yet. In fact, they’re about to plunge headfirst into a world where dinosaurs roam freely alongside dangerous humans, and trust us when we say, it’s a Jurassic jungle out there!

Picture this: a world where survival isn’t just about avoiding sharp-toothed predators but also navigating the treacherous waters of human greed and deceit. As our resilient heroes reunite in the aftermath of a heart-wrenching tragedy, they quickly realize that danger lurks around every corner, and trust is a luxury they can’t afford. 

But wait, there’s more! Prepare to embark on a globetrotting adventure like no other as the Nublar Six find themselves thrust into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens not only the fragile balance between dinosaurs and humanity but also their very existence. From the lush jungles of Isla Nublar to the bustling streets of bustling cities, buckle up for a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions as our intrepid group races against time to uncover the truth about one of their own and, ultimately, save both dinosaur and humankind from certain doom.

So, dear readers, if you thought you’d seen it all in Jurassic Park, think again! With heart-stopping action, pulse-pounding suspense, and jaw-dropping revelations, this latest installment promises to be a game-changer in the Jurassic universe. Get ready to roar with excitement because Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery is about to take a bite out of your imagination and leave you hungry for more!

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