At The Theatre: An Interview with Kyra Kennedy from Waitress (in parntership with Playhouse Square)

Another openin’, another show! If you’re weekend was anything like mine, you had the chance to check out an incredible performance at one of your local theaters. My kind of Sunday Funday! And this show was special — not only because was it an opening of a national tour, not only because it was an opening of a very anticipated theatrical season… it was special because it means I started interviewing incredible actors, musicians, creatives and stage professionals again — all thanks to Playhouse Square!

I’m so very excited to be serving as Playhouse Square‘s Community Engagement and Education’s blogger for the KeyBank Broadway Series for the third season running. Join me as I to take you behind the scenes to interview a member of the featured show’s cast, crew or creative team for each of the Broadway Series performances. The first show in the 2017-18 series is Waitress

…and today on the blog, I’m sharing my Playhouse Square Behind the Curtain interview with Kyra Kennedy, an actor in the production’s ensemble!

. . . . .

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in a very small town in Oklahoma and have parents that were incredible in letting me spread my wings and supported me a million percent in following this dream. They both are heavily involved in the arts and my mother is a fantastic pianist. I grew up in our community theatre rehearsals watching them both and it just made sense to pursue it and I felt so comfortable in my skin there.

When Waitress was auditioning for American Repertory Theater (ART), I was in callbacks and knew immediately that it was a special show. I also knew someday I’d be in it. I just had a feeling. The music, the material, the dream of it all really resonated me since the moment I encountered it.

I hear you are a fellow Baldwin Wallace University alum! Are there any particular aspects of your college experience that prepped you for this opportunity?

YES! YJ4L! (That’s Yellow Jackets for Life for you non-BW grads!) I did not come from a background that knew a lot about Music Theatre schools and going about auditioning for them. I happened to have a voice teacher who was in love with the school and by design, I did as well. BW prepared me so much as a musician – I’m confident learning sides and audition songs because of that training. The connections it allowed me to make have been so incredibly valuable.

This nationwide tour opens at Playhouse Square. What excited you most about starting off in Cleveland?

Oh gosh! I had such a rush of emotions – I was excited to be back in an area I knew and loved. I love Cleveland so much – the memories, the food, the spirit. It’s a really special place. Not to mention the INDIANS WERE AMAZING!

This story is well known to many thanks to the popular 2007 movie starring Keri Russel. As an actor bringing the tale back to the stage, is there something that the stage version provides to (either you as an actor or to the audiences) that the film version did not?

Absolutely – Sara’s music is otherworldly. It adds such a personal and beautiful and heart wrenching quality to an already poignant and beautiful story. Her music blossoms.

The music and lyrics of Waitress – by popular singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles – drove a lot of publicity towards the musical’s creation and opening on Broadway. Can you speak to how her musical style leads to the theater and this piece?

Sara is able to capture humanity in her songs so well. The lyrics, the music, and even the background vocals are so specific and intentional and really have such a character. I feel so lucky to be able to sing her music. I hope this isn’t her last musical – I think she is such an intelligent writer.

The circumstances around the lead character of this musical creates the opportunity for the audience to take away some interesting life lessons. Which message of Waitress speaks to you the most?

The strength a woman can have when she is empowered. Jenna has 2 amazing friends who love imperfectly and aren’t your typical, archetype of a character. The characters in this show are flawed which helps us as an audience see ourselves in each of them. Especially in this political climate, I think it is so important for audiences across America to see a story of a woman that becomes her own champion.

Out of all the productions you’ve been involved in over the years, how does this production of Waitress stand apart?

There is nothing like it. In my career thus far, this was a turning point. I’m thankful to start this chapter and to be able to say I was a part of this extraordinary diner.

. . . . .

Waitress runs October 17 – November 5, 2017 in the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the Playhouse Square website.

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 Broadway Buzz contributor!

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Yoga Brunch is Back this Sunday!

It’s that weekend again, y’all! Join me at The Cultural Center above Dante Next Door in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood for a 60-minutes all-levels yoga class this Sunday, October 22nd. Class starts at 9:30am. Your class registration includes a complimentary mimosa or coffee at brunch after!

Aren’t able to stay for brunch? No worries — come just for class and be on your way after!

Ready to sign up? Find it out all the details & register today at the Eventbrite page.

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The Best of Cleveland Magazine’s 2017 Best of Cleveland Party

Due to the nature of my full-time job and this little ol’ blog, I have the opportunity to attend a lot of events of all different types all around Northeast Ohio. And it may not be fair to compare them all to one another, but here’s what I can fairly say: the annual Cleveland Magazine Best of Cleveland Party has been and will continue to be one of my favorites every year. Our first year attending was all the way back in 2010 when the event was held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. We had a blast that night and a good deal of that was due to the event’s venue. So imagine my excitement when the magazine announced the event would be moving back to the house that rock and roll built in 2017.

One of the other things I love about this event? How it makes for the perfect date night. Especially for the parents of a spirited eleven month old.

The energy was tangible as we entered the Rock Hall Friday night — Cleveland came out to celebrate all their “best”ies!! Each four levels of the museum granted attendees to access to all of the participating vendor tables plus the museum exhibits and live entertainment on the Rock Hall stage. That combo lead to a great experiential feeling, giving guests more to do than “just” eat and drink.

Our plan for when we entered the museum right at 7PM:  Grab a sweet potato Fall saison from Noble Beast Brewing Co. and work our way down to the ground floor to start working our way up…

Our favorite eats, from top left clockwise :

  • Korean beef bowls from Yuzu — LOVED how spicy this was!
  • Birthday cake mini-ice cream cones from Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream — I’m a sucker for chunks of cake in ice cream.
  • Hummus bowls from Boaz Cafe  — giving out full meals full of my favorite hummus.
  • Pulled pork sliders from Smokin’ Q’s BBQ & Beer House – I had never heard of them before Friday, but glad I learned about them.
  • Donuts from Jack Frost Donuts – this South side born and raised girl knows you can never pass up a Jack Frost creation.
  • Cookies from Fat T’s Cookies – another new-to-me, their treats made for one tasty breakfast the next morning!

Additional non-pictured favorites from the evening included:

  • Tuna from Pier W — always delicious and always fun to run into their GM, Mark!
  • Breakfast pizza from Saucy Brew Works — egg, bacon, cheddar… what more do you need?
  • Really neat hand lettered items from HLOS — a few postcards will find their way into my gallery wall.
  • Strawberry Bubble Tea from Thai Thai — which I haven’t had since a visit to Ithaca, NY more than a decade ago!

…and that is just a fraction of all the fun companies featured that evening!

Another aspect of this event that I love? All the Clevelanders that come out for it! I ran into my co-workers, former co-workers, networking pals, Twitter followers (it was nice to meet you, Adam!), old friends from college and more, we couldn’t take ten steps without running into someone we knew. And isn’t that the best thing about Cleveland — friendly face is always a few steps away!

As we closed out our night, we made sure to grab a parting gift. Those Cleveland Magazines contained something extra special — a t-shirt from Cleveland Clothing Co. featuring everyone’s favorite Huey Lewis and the News lyric… which I’ve been humming since then. (#notcomplaining)

Celebrate all that is the BEST of Cleveland with Cleveland Magazine all year round: Like the event’s Facebook page, follow the event’s Twitter feed (@BestOfCLE) and keep an eye on Cleveland Magazine‘s Instagram feed for even more information. Thank you again to the team at Cleveland Magazine for having us back to this year’s event!

Disclosure: I accepted the opportunity to provide two All Access Tickets event tickets via an event preview/reader giveaway to the Cleveland Magazine Best of Cleveland Party in exchange for two media passes. All thoughts and opinions are always my own. 

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What I Learned at #BizConCLE17

If you were following along on my social media feeds yesterday, you already know I had the chance to attend BizConCLEpresented by Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) and the Greater Cleveland Partnership. But I wasn’t just any attendee – I had the opportunity to serve as its official blogger for the third year in a row. I had to miss last year I was awaiting the arrival of Baby B, so I was really excited to check out all that the convention’s organizers had planned for us at Cleveland Public Auditorium this year.

BizConCLE’s planners revamped many aspects of the gathering for 2017, condensing the convention into a one-day affair. But just because it was less time doesn’t mean it was less information shared. If anything, I feel like the speakers, presenters and panelists had even more to provide to us attendees. Many shared what they learned, hear and saw on Twitter, so I decided to screen grab a few of my favorite takeaways to share with you today:

Were you at BizConCLE17? Let me know what you took away and/or learned in the comments below!

Follow the convention buzz for 2018 on BizConCLE’s and COSE’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube feeds. Thank you again to the COSE and Greater Cleveland Partnership teams for welcoming me back to the event again this year!

Disclosure: I served as an Official Blogger for COSE’s 2017 BizConCLE, which included a complimentary registration to this year’s conference. All thoughts and opinions are always my own.

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