An Interview with Eleasha Gamble from Into The Woods (a guest post at Playhouse Square’s Behind the Curtain blog)

As I shared in the Fall, I’m excited to again be serving as Playhouse Square‘s Community Engagement and Education’s blogger for the KeyBank Broadway Series. Join me as I to take you behind the scenes to interview a member of the featured show’s cast, crew or creative team. The third show in the 2016-2017 series is one of my favorite musicals, Into The Woods.

Visit the Playhouse Square’s Behind the Curtain blog to read my interview with Eleasha Gamble, an actor in the production.

Into The Woods Playhouse Square 2017

Into The Woods runs January 10 – 29, 2016 in the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the Playhouse Square website. 

Want to read my previous Broadway Buzz interviews? Check out my interviews at my new At The Theater page here on the blog.

Want to learn more about Into The Woods before seeing the production? Arrive early to hear Joe Garry’s Broadway Buzz Pre-Show Talks, one hour before curtain in the Idea Center at Playhouse Square (1375 Euclid Ave.). More info on the Playhouse Square website here. (p.s. I edit the pre-show talk program, so make sure to grab one if you go!)

Learn more about Playhouse Square: follow Playhouse Square on Facebook, on Twitter at @playhousesquare & on Instagram at @playhousesquare. As before and always, many thanks yous to the Playhouse Square team for the opportunity to serve as a blog contributor & program editor for the Broadway Buzz program!

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#ClevelandGoesRed with Heart Healthy Yoga Poses

My apologies, friends, as my new mom brain has been in full effect during the month of January. I swear to you: more regular blogging will find its way back into my regular schedule soon — in-between early morning feedings, marathon diaper changings and cuddle sessions with the cutest two month old this side of I-480.

So with all of that, that should put us back in a routine sometime in February — which is the month when I will partner up with the Cleveland office of the American Heart Association for their annual Heart Month and their Go Red for Women campaign.


What is Go Red For Women? From the Heart Association’s website: “In 2004, the American Heart Association (AHA) faced a challenge. Cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year, yet women were not paying attention. In fact, many even dismissed it as an older man’s disease. To dispel the myths and raise awareness of heart disease & stroke as the number one killer of women, the American Heart Association created Go Red For Women, a passionate, emotional, social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.”

Those familiar with my weight loss story know that it was sparked by the opportunity to take my health back. In January of 2002, I was a freshman in college, weighing more than 250 pounds. I knew for a long time I was overweight, but seeing photos from a sorority event made me realize it was time to do something about my health — to take responsibility for it. Nearly eight years later, I weighed 120 pounds less, and seven years after that, today, I am looking to refocus my healthy lifestyle as I restart the weight loss journey after giving birth this past Fall. Mama’s half way back to her pre-pregnancy weight, but has more to go to get back to her happy weight!

The AHA will tell you that staying active is one of the most important things we can do to help curb obesity, lower chances of heart disease and be healthier overall. There are so many activities to choose from — kickboxing, bicycling and hiking are some of my favorites, but yoga has a special place in my heart. As a certified yoga teacher since 2012, I’ve seen how the practice can change a person — mentally, physically and emotionally. So it’s no wonder that the poses of yoga have the opportunity to assist us in living longer, heart-healthier lives.

As I start the weight loss process, I am making sure to incorporate yoga where I can in my day — formal 30-60 minute sessions throughout the week when I can, mini-sessions throughout the day or after a more intense workout, or even just a moment to follow my breath, clear my mind and slow my heart rate. So it’s my pleasure to share some suggestions on poses and methods anyone can do to reap the benefits of yoga for your very own heart!

Heart Healthy Yoga Poses


plank pose heart association

To build strength in the core and increase the heart rate to improve cardiovascular health.


bridge heart association

Press down through the feet, lift the hips, create space in the chest and feel your heart rate increase. Hold for ten breaths and see if you can lift the hips higher on the inhales to feel it really working!


tree pose heart association

In this balancing pose, cultivate awareness in your heart center by pressing your thumbs into your chest and see if you can focus on your heart beating.


reclined heart association

Another opportunity to focus on your heart — this time in a supine, relaxed position. A personal favorite of mine.


savasana heart association

Rest and relaxation is just as much an important part of heart health as an increased aerobic activity. Make time to relax!


seated heart association

Start with just five minutes of finding a comfortable seat (on the floor or in a chair), closing your eyes and following your breath — noticing your inhale, then your exhale. And repeat!

Other suggestions include Sun Salutations A and B (Details here and here. These can really get the heart beat going fast!) and these various backbends, which bring focus to your heart center, an area that houses your energies of caring and compassion — important when practicing yoga!

Looking to get involved in the AHA’s mission? Save these upcoming dates next month:

Want Even More Red?! Read the articles from other local bloggers below:

Many thanks to the Cleveland American Heart Association for their partnership and the opportunity to bring some yoga to your heart health! Follow the non-profit locally on Facebook, Twitter at @ClevelandAHA and Instagram at @ClevelandAHA.

Disclosure: Cleveland American Heart Association invited me and other local bloggers to help promote the Go Red for Women campaign and luncheon on February 10th.  In exchange, I received a swag bag and a complimentary ticket to the 2017 Cleveland Go Red for Women Expo and Luncheon. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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2016 wasn’t so bad // a reflection on one memorable year

While everyone is all “OMG 2016 GO AWAY”, I’m feeling like one of the few who actually found this year to be pretty incredible.

hansen 2016 collage

Our highlights included:

  • the beginning of our #HansenExpansion with the addition of #frankthefuzz
  • the start of my Yoga Brunch series (coming back soon!)
  • traveling to Colorado for back-to-back ParaYoga trainings
  • my mom getting remarried
  • Hans PR-ing at this year’s (very cold and semi-snowy) Cleveland Marathon
  • a long awaited Cleveland sports championship (commemorated here and here)
  • celebrating ten years of marriage
  • an incredible World Series run
  • and, most importantly, the arrival of our first born.

dale mcdonald photographer brenna newborn shot

Photo by Dale McDonald

I know not everyone has had as wonderful of twelve months as us. Believe me, we had a few years like that too. Hello 2009 and 2011. And even if you find the muster to spin a positive attitude at the end of December, sometimes you just gotta call a spade a spade and deal yourself a new hand in the new year.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the large number of celebrity deaths in 2016. How these individuals played a part in our lives — in ways I hadn’t fully realized until their passing. I personally had an appreciation for so many and their commitments to living life boldly, even in the public eye. And as I venture into my first full calendar year as a parent, it makes me wonder if our baby can still learn the life lessons that they provided us. To:

Be as authentic as Prince.

Be as strong as Muhammad Ali.

Be as innovative as David Bowie.

Be as adventurous as John Glenn.

Be as generous as George Michael.

Be as relentless as Carrie Fisher.

alicia brenna-edit

Photo by Dale McDonald

So cheers to the new year, to you and to yours, and to finding a bit of each of those traits in ourselves in 2017. We’re doing our annual New Year’s Eve goal setting exercise, so check back next week to see what we have planned for the next twelve months!

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