Saturday, April 25, 2015



APRIL 22-MAY 24, 2015

Click here to download hi-res images of Ariana Burks (left in duo, center photo) and Isabelle Roberts (right in duo, right photo), who will rotate as Alice throughout the run of Wonderland. Credit: Joe Mazza, Brave Lux

CHICAGO, January 27, 2015 - Kids, parents, grandparents and school groups, get ready to rock!

Wonderland, Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure, a new family musical created by top Chicago director Rachel Rockwell and music director Michael Mahler, is Chicago Children's Theatre's big 10th anniversary season finale. 

Performances start April 22 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. Press opening is Friday, April 24 at 7 p.m. Performances continue through May 24. Tickets are $10-$38. For tickets and information, or call (872) 222-9555.

Chicago's theater scene promises to get curiouser and curiouser when the powerhouse duo of Rockwell and Mahler, both making their CCT debut, boldly reimagine Lewis Carroll's books Alice in Wonderland and Through the Lookingglass

And wow! Chicago Children's Theatre has tapped a team of A-list Chicago theater artists, all sought after by the city's top stages, to help create Wonderland:  Kevin Depinet (set); Greg Hofmann (lights); Mike Tutaj (projections); Mara Blumenfeld(costumes); Lindsay Jones (sound) and Meredith Miller (props).

Who's playing the title role? Actually, two of Chicago's most dynamic young actors, Isabelle Roberts and Ariana Burks, will alternate performances as Alice. 

The cast also boasts familiar faces from Chicago's top stages including Molly CallinanLillian CastilloMatt DeitchmanJed FederRegina LeslieJake MahlerAdam MichaelsAndrew Mueller and Matthew Yee.

How can you march to the beat of your own drummer when you're still writing the song? Everyone's search for one's authentic self is at the heart ofWonderland 
book by Rachel Rockwell and Lewis Carroll, music by Michael Mahler, lyrics by Michael Mahler and Rachel Rockwell, directed by Rachel Rockwell.

Carroll's beloved, poetic tale of self-actualization is brought to life by a cast of actor/musicians who create an eclectic, live rock soundtrack as 7-1/2 year-old Alice searches for her own inner musical voice. Along the way, Alice faces challenges and fears, but meets the ultimate test in the form of the 
Jabberwocky, an insidious monster made of up of the dark thoughts and self-doubt that lurks inside of us all. In learning to believe in the impossible, Alice learns to believe in herself. Throughout her journey, the actors surround Alice in a live musical tapestry ranging from classic rock to punk to ska and even a little bit of Bollywood.

"In our version of the Alice story, Alice is much more of an active protagonist. We're talking girl power here, empowering girls, in particular, to boldly discover their true selves," said Rockwell. "Plus, Michael's score is just awesome. He is borrowing from all sorts of classic rock styles, everything from hints of Heart, Joan Jett, Oingo Boingo and Tenacious D, to Queen and the Beatles. Rock concert meets live theater as Alice reflects the vulnerabilities of all kids, and then confidently finds her own inner voice."

Meet the creators

Rachel Rockwell (co-creator, director) was the Chicago Tribune's 2012 "Chicagoan of the Year in Theatre" and Chicago Magazine's "Best Director" in 2010. Select credits include Brigadoon at the Goodman, Mary PoppinsAnnie and In the Heights at the Paramount, West Side StoryRagtime and The Sound of Music at Drury Lane Oakbrook, and Shrek The MusicalBeauty and the BeastThe Emperor's New Clothes and The Adventures of Pinocchio at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Michael Mahler (co-creator, music director) is the Jeff Award-winning composer/lyricist of HeroHow Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back?Knute Rockne: All-AmericanThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan ToomeyPainted Alice,The 9/11 ReportThe Main Street Kids Club and others.

Meet Chicago Children's Theatre's Alice(s)

Ariana Burks (Alice) is a 15-year-old, Emmy nominated actress/singer with many credits including The Black and White Ball with the FWD Theatre Project and performing with Felicia Fields in Courting the Blues at Court Theatre. Other credits include Seussical at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, A Christmas Carol at the Goodman, Hairspray at Drury Lane Oakbrook (Jeff Nominated), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Broadway Playhouse, The Nutcracker at Jedlicka Performing Arts Center, Aunt Nancy and the Doggie Tales at The Cornservatory and Laika's Coffin with Redmoon Theater. Her film and TV credits include Chicago Fire on NBC, Prank Stars on the Disney Channel and The Jr. Cuisine Cooking Show (Emmy Nominated) on PBS. She is a member of the youth ensemble at Lookingglass Theatre.

Isabelle Roberts (Alice), a 12-year-old Glencoe seventh grader, has been seen as Brigitta in The Sound of Music at Lyric Opera, Young Fiona in Shrek the Musical at Northwestern University, Clarice in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Broadway Playhouse, Mary Claire Daugherty in The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater and Theo in Pippin at The Music Theater Company. She performed at the 2013 Chicago Thanksgiving Day parade and the 2012 Equity Jeff Awards. At New Trier High School she was in Beauty and the Beast and

Wonderland, Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure performance schedule

Previews of Wonderland, Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure are Wednesday through Friday, April 22-24 at 10 a.m. Press opening is Friday, April 24 at 7 p.m.Performances continue Saturday, April 25 at 6 p.m.Sunday, April 26 at 11 a.m. 

Starting Tuesday, April 28, performances are Tuesday at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m. and noonSaturday at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., andSunday at 11 a.m. 

Note: There is an added 3 p.m. performance on closing day, Sunday, May 24. Exceptions: No noon performance on Thursday, May 7. No 6 p.m. performanceSaturday, May 23.  

Tickets are $10-$38. Programs include fun activities for kids and lessons drawn from the themes of the play. Visit or call (872) 222-9555 for tickets and information. 

Email or call (773) 227-0180 x 13 to learn about deeply discounted group rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting groups. 

Note:  Groups can book an ASL-interpreted or Autism-Friendly performance by calling (773) 227-0180 x 13 with a minimum two-week notice.

Chicago Children's Theatre performs at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood steps from the Magnificent Mile. Via public transit, the Ruth Page is a short walk from the CTA Red Line Clark/Division and Chicago stops, and the Clark, Broadway, Division and Chicago Avenue bus lines. Street parking is available, and the Ruth Page offers discounted garage parking with ticket validation at 1250 N. Dearborn and 1030 N. State. Nearby family-friendly restaurants include Epic Burger (40 E. Pearson), Lou Malnati's  (1120 N. State), The 3rd Coast (1260 N. Dearborn) and Dave and Busters (1030 N. Clark). 

About Chicago Children's Theatre

Chicago Children's Theatre ( focuses on the production of first-rate children's theatre in Chicago, with top writing, performing and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise. 

Since the company was launched in 2005, Chicago Children's Theatre has presented the world premieres of The Selfish GiantThe Hundred DressesJackie and MeDot and ZiggyThe Houdini BoxThe Elephant and The Whale (in association with Redmoon), Mr. Chickee's Funny Money and Leo Lionni's Frederick.

Chicago Children's Theatre aspires to enrich our community through diverse and significant theatrical and educational programming that engages and inspires the child in all of us. The company strives to provide affordable and accessible theatre for families and area school children. To enhance the impact of any given production's themes, Chicago Children's Theatre offers educational materials and programs for families and educators. 

Led by Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, the company is supported by a committed Artistic Council of Chicago-based actors, directors, musicians and designers and a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business. Officers include David Saltiel, President; Jacqueline Tilton, Vice Chair;Lynn Lockwood Murphy, Vice Chair and Secretary; and David Chung, Treasurer. 

Chicago Children's Theatre is sponsored in part by ComEdGoldman Sachs GivesJPMorgan Chase and Target

For more information about Chicago Children's Theatre visit, call CCT's dedicated box office line,
(872) 222-9555, or the administrative office, (773) 227-0180.

GIVEAWAY! I have two tickets to this Sunday's 11am performance. The first person to comment telling me your favorite character from Alice in Wonderland wins!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Review: Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Disclosure: I was provided a review copy but all opinions are my own.

Have you mastered positive habits in your everyday life? Gretchen Rubin's latest book, Better Than Before, promises to help you add an extra dose of sunshine and happiness into your life by offering ideas for establishing new habits and reworking old ones, leading to a healthier, happier, more streamlined life. Rubin examines everyday habits, and their positive and negative effects on everything from weight to procrastination, by researching the science behind habits and also testing out positive habit forming techniques herself. This book led me to analyze my own everyday habits, and to and to honestly decide what's working for me and what's not working for me. Rubin gives concrete advice to help overcome some simple hurdles that have made my life just a bit simpler. Here are just a few of the tips that I took away from this fun (and useful!) book.

Check out the guaranteed low prices on P&G products Walmart’s Stock and Save event!

Disclosure: I have been compensated by P&G for sharing this information and the giveaway gift card. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Running out to the store for home basics, at the last minute, is neither fun nor budget friendly.  Walmart’s Stock and Save event is a great opportunity to take advantage of limited-time rollbacks and guaranteed low prices on P&G products so you can always have home basics on hand. 

Now until Thursday, April 30th, 2015 you can purchase your favorite P&G products at incredible savings, including:

Friday, April 17, 2015

$1000 for you + $1000 for him + prostate cancer awareness = a win for everyone!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Prolaris and Myriad Genetics via Global Influence.

Did you know...

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (after skin cancer), but it can often be treated successfully. More than 2 million men in the US count themselves as prostate cancer survivors.

  • Every year, 1.2 million biopsies lead to 240,000 prostate cancer diagnoses.

  • Every year, over 30,000 men die of prostate cancer.

Creating a Travel Friendly Wardrobe with Gudrun Sjödén

Disclosure: Special thanks to Gudrun Sjödén for sponsoring this post. 

I'm always on a quest for comfortable fashions that will carry me from work to play and fit my very active lifestyle, clothes that are multi-purpose and can be dressed up or down with accessories, clothes that travel well. I've found an answer in Gudrun Sjödén, a Sweden-based company that creates unique designs featuring natural materials – for women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Vibrant and sustainable, this is a brand that honors women who appreciate individual style and comfortable, organic materials. 

I visited LA last week, and my trip plans ranged from a hike in Runyon Canyon to afternoon tea at an ultra luxe hotel in Beverly Hills. I hate checking in suitcases, so I'd have to fit both my clothing and my daughter's clothing in a small carry-on. I needed to pack items that would be comfortable and versatile. I ended up packing three Gudrun Sjödén dresses, a shawl/scarf,  a pair of sandals, and a dresser pair of low heels. 

The fact that these super comfy green sandals from the summer collection only grew comfier as time went on was key - we walked so much on this trip! My kids and I laughed every time I received a compliment on these sandals, too: five people complimented my shoes, from a surfer dude in Huntington Beach to a chocolatier in Beverly Hills - everyone seemed to love my sandals! 

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Two New Beauty Product Reviews: Silk'n Flash & Go Permanent Hair Removal System and the Mumbani Fresh Face

This review was from over two years ago. I still use and appreciate both products, and wanted to re-share!

I recently received two beauty products to review:

The first, a Silk'n Flash & Go Permanent Hair Removal System was a Godsend. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I have been a client at American Laser Skincare for seven years, and for seven years I have DREADED going in for my laser hair removal touch-ups. There is nothing more unsettling and unnerving to me (in the beauty department) than stripping down, wearing sunglasses yet freezing my butt off, and being painfully zapped by a laser hair remover. That said, laser hair removal has worked well with my skin (very fair) and hair type. In the end, I really have saved money and most of all, time. But back to the maintenance appointments: I dreaded them. So when I was gifted a Silk'n Flash & Go system, an FDA cleared home laser hair remover, at a Pretty City event, I was delighted! It's super easy to

Monday, March 30, 2015

Explore Chicago's Greektown with Kids

This post originally appeared at, where I am a contributing writer.

Greektown, located just west of the Loop, between Van Buren and Madison Streets and along Halsted Street, makes for a fun day of exploring. Easy to reach via taxi or CTA (take the Blue Line to UIC Halsted and follow Halsted North), this fantastic neighborhood gives visiting families a taste of Greek culture (and cuisine!).

Start your journey at the brand-new National Hellenic Museum (333 S. Halsted), the star of Greektown. This unique cultural gem aims to connect visitors to the history of the Greek immigrant while also showcasing Greek culture and Greek-American artists. The kid-geared Greek Monsters exhibit gives children the chance to explore ancient Greece with their own eyes and hands. Kids will get up close and personal with the wacky Greek Monsters via interactive exhibits. My 5-year-old daughter enjoyed learning the stories behind the monsters, and even made a giant monster of her very own. The museum's glass-paned windows usher in the sunshine, making for a bright morning or afternoon.

Our favorite kid-friendly Greektown restaurant is Greek Islands (200 S. Halsted). Every kid will enjoy the flaming Saganaki cheese appetizer - be sure to lean back when the waiter shouts "Opa!" so you don't get burned! The small plates section of the menu is perfect for families and gives everyone a chance to try and share a new dish or two. The fried zucchini chips, Keftedakia meatballs, and spinach cheese pies will be appreciated by kids and adults alike and are all priced under $6 each.

No trip to Greektown is complete without a visit to Pan Hellenic Pastries (322 S. Halsted). My favorite here is the Galaktoboureko, a milk custard with a hint of lemon, encased in a buttery phyllo shell. The honey and walnut baklava is always a hit with my kids. Milk cartons are available as is strong Greek coffee and tea. Your kids will love the colorful selection of almond, butter, orange, and anise cookies. I always let my children fill a small box of cookies of their choice to take home as a souvenir of our Greektown visit.