Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tap Dancing Drag Queens and Lessons on the Love of Family - My review of La Cage aux Folles at North Shore Music Theater

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Last night I was delighted to attend the opening of Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theater's run of La Cage aux Folles. For anyone who isn't familiar with the story, you can reference The Bird Cage, the hilarious Robin Williams and Nathan Lane film based on this play by Jean Poiret which debuted on Broadway in 1983. La Cage aux Folle is a story about love, acceptance and loyalty found in the most unconventional of families - a gay couple who own a drag nightclub of which "mom" is the star.

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The opening number was SPECTACULAR! Noisy, clicking tap shoes worn by the gorgeous male dance troupe donning short jewel toned gowns with a tres French feel set the vibe for a high energy gender bender of a drag show musical. "We Are What We" punctuated both the point of the play and the importance of the club - both are really about accepting our differences and celebrating the community of freedom to be.

The cross dressing theme runs through the entire show with female valets in monkey suits and mustaches, lots of head scratching speculation as to whether that woman is being played by a woman and discreet attempts to identify telltale undergarments. OK, I'm sure I'm not the only one.

 Even Jacob,the butler is in drag and refers to herself as the maid, and like everyone else, aspires to get on stage in La Cage aux Folles. It's worth noting that the character of Jacob was a last minute cast change that was a brilliant stroke of luck. Nikko Kimzin was DAZZLING and positively belly-laugh funny as the muy caliente Latin butler-come-maid who's a equal parts protector and predator over the couples' son Jean-Michel, played by Zach Trimmer.

Speaking of Jean-Michel, the plot line centers on how he, presumably the only hetrosexual on all of the Cote d'Azur falls not only for a woman, but for the daughter of Monsiuer Dindon, played by Larry Cahn. M. Dindon is the hard headed, hard hitting leader of a moral cleansing faction bent on cleaning up the bawdy clubs on the Riviera, of which La Cage is likely the bawdiest.

And M. Dindon is coming to dinner.

- It doesn't help that Jean's parents, Albin, played by the perfectly dramatic Jonathan Hammond and George played by Charles Shaughnessy (of "The Nanny" fame) live above the club in a garishly gay apartment. Their effort to "clean up their act" results in an outrageously tacky religious redecoration that's positively ridiculous.

la cage aux folles, london, french riviera, nsmt, drag, the birdcage, theater, music theater, north shore music theater, beverly, boston, jennifer ameroJean implores his father to invite his detached and disinterested biological mother to attend the dinner, slighting the hyper-emotional Albin with a request that he play the role of "Uncle Al" , opening the door to a preposterously funny series of hetro-lessons in  "Masculinity" including a failed attempt to eat toast like John Wayne. You've gotta watch to understand.

By the way, mom is a no-show. Albin is maternally incensed and heartbroken for her boy and springs to action employing his special skills to salvage Jean's dinner.

Hammond's Albin is a character with such complicated appeal it was easy to feel for him and to understand the pain of rejection that Jean's proposal causes. Albin is a little broken, a little silly, a little self indulgent and a whole lot lovable. He's every bit the lady of the house and the emotional surge of estrogen is worn on his sleeve.  His performance in "A Little More Mascara" spoke to me in a way ladies AND queens will appreciate  As Elizabeth Taylor once said, " Pour yourself a drink. Put some lipstick on and pull yourself together". The show must go on.

elizabeth taylor, lipstick, la cage aux folles, london, french riviera, nsmt, drag, the birdcage, theater, music theater, north shore music theater, beverly, boston, jennifer ameroThe story is as touching as it is funny and as sweet as it is sparkly. "With You On My Arm" is drippingly romantic and was executed by Shaughnessy and Hammond so beautifully, the audience is quickly invested in fighting off the religious intolerance and threats to the family that M. Dindon represents on behalf of our gentle pair.

"Look Over There" brought me to tears more than once and really hit home in delivering the message that family are the people who love you above all else and turning your back on those people to keep up appearances is a dangerously hurtful thing to do. It's a poignant story wrapped in a decadent package but it's an important story nonetheless. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I highly recommend La Cage aux Folles at NSMT. It's running through October 6th. I would not miss this one. NSMT just keeps getting better. Tickets at:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cool, Fun Stuff from Cool, Fun Folks - lots going on these next few weeks. Here are my faves

I try to know everything that's happening. But that's an unrealistic goal even for this Virgo girl. That said, I LOVE when you send stuff for me to talk about. The best way for me to get it posted fast is if you send me a Press Release that's copy/paste ready and includes a description of the event, prices, times, location and contact and/or ticket information. Even better, send me a logo and/or a photo from your event marketing and I'll gussy it up for ya. It's that easy.

Here are a few things I've gotten info on this week and as few I found myself and found worth sharing:

black lobster, salem ma, restaurant, event, painting party, creative canvas, north shore, fun stuffCREATIVE CANVAS Painting Event in Salem
“Painting Event”
Tuesday September 17, 7:00PM 
Black Lobster
2 Bridge St Salem, MA
Jan is an outstanding artist whose main goal is to encourage happiness and inner peace through her work. Jan has many accomplishments under her belt as well as giving that “one on one” approach that makes our guests really enjoy the experience wanting to join us again and again. The painting for tomorrow evening will be an Autumn Scene entitled “Birch Trees”.
Our mission is to encourage and promote a positive perspective of painting without having any
previous artistic background. Our catch phrase is: “No Skills required….Just the desire to have fun”. Creative Canvas’s main focus is primarily North of Boston.
Creative Canvas, LLC Is a unique company offering painting parties and events for all occasions. Whether it’s a private event, in a local restaurant or a fundraiser, we look forward in helping bring out the “INNER ARTIST IN YOU”!!!
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To reserve a seat please email Kendis Nicolo at: Seats are $30/pp if you mention “The Black Lobster” in your email (regular price $35/pp on website).

Allagash Tap Takover 
Thursday, September 19, 2013 (All day)
Ale House - Amesbury
33 Main Street, Amesbury, Massachusetts 01913
Join us Thursday September 19th for an Allagash tap Takeover featuring Allagash White, Fluxus, Confluence, Golden Brett, and a 2012 Bourbon Barrel Black.

Downtown Gloucester Block Party - Last of the Season
Saturday, September 21, 2013 6PM
Throughout Downtown Gloucester, MA
block party, gloucester, downtown, dancers, entertainment, family friendly, jennifer amero, jamero marketing, marketing, events, prThe September Downtown Gloucester Block party highlights a variety of entertainment with an emphasis on women performers. In addition to Willie Alexander, Karen Ristuben and Inge Berge, emerging new talent such as Marina Evans and Alexandra Valenti will fill five stages.

Main Street’s stores are open late for shopping and many downtown eateries will offer al fresco dining. Reservations are strongly encouraged - Block Party is the only time you can dine outdoors on Main Street. 

The third Ryan and Wood Distillery’s cocktail contest features rye creations presented by restaurant mixologists.

Kids’ Town games and activities are directed by Rick Doucette and his YMCA Camp Spindrift crew. for a full line up of talent, activities and directions.

2013 Marini Farm Corn Maze "T-Rex On The Loose" 
(thanks to for this)
Every Day beginning Sept. 7 -November 2, 2013 Hours Vary
Marini Farm Ipswich, MA
Phone: 978-238-9386

marini farm, corn maze, kid stuff, ipswich ma, fall festival, halloween, cape ann, jennifer ameroThe 2013 Marini Farm Corn Maze "T-Rex On The Loose" explores the age of the dinosaurs. Maze visitors will learn about this period, many of the species that inhabited it, and the factors that led to their extinction as they discover the clues and answer the questions that lead to the completion of our 7-acre Maze. Younger Finger Fortune Mini Maze explorers have a 1.5 acre mini-maze.

Entrance to Marini Farm Corn Maze Park includes jumping pillow, bounce houses, hayrides, pumpkin patch, and more. There are stations strategically placed throughout the maze with answers to a game sheet that you will be given before entering. We don't give you clues - you need to find our way out on your own! With miles of pathways, you will be able to note your progression by the amount of answers you find on your game sheet. A finished game sheet is a finished maze!
Average times for our mazes are 2 hours; best time is 1 hour - so put on your sturdy shoes or sneakers and come enjoy the experience!
All youth must be accompanied by an adult. There will be no exceptions; this is for everyone's safety.

La Cage Aux Folles 
theater, la cage aux folles, entertainment, nsmt, jennifer amero, jamero marketing, marketing, events, prNorthshore Music Theater, Beverly MA
Tuesday, September 24 - Sunday, October 6
Before there was the popular movie 'The Birdcage,' there was the Tony Award- winning, smash hit Broadway musical, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. After twenty years of bliss, Georges and Albin, two men partnered for better-or-worse, get a bit of both when Georges' son announces his impending marriage to the daughter of an ultra-conservative politician. Further complicating the situation, Albin and Georges run a drag nightclub in St. Tropez, where Albin is the star performer ‘Zaza.'

SONGS INCLUDE: I Am What I Am • La Cage aux Folles • We Are What We Are • The Best of Times • (A Little More) Mascara • With Anne on My Arm • Song on the Sand • Look Over There

Salem Haunted Happening Halloween Parade
Thursday, October 3 6:30-8:30PM
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Downtown Salem
FREE and Kid Friendly
A Salem tradition to kick off Haunted Happenings that is filled with pageantry, music, and the enthusiasm of thousands of Salem’s students from kindergarten to college. This year’s theme is "Books Come Alive". Parade begins at Shetland Park and ends at Salem Common.

The Taste of Cape Ann
Cruiseport Gloucester, Gloucester, MA
October 3 6-9PM
Tickets: $25 Get them here: Link for Tickets:
taste of cape ann, ymca, cruiseport, event, food, causes, jennifer amero, jamero marketing, restaurants, wine, craft beerThe Cape Ann YMCA’s 5th Annual “Taste of Cape Ann” returns to Cruiseport Gloucester on Thursday, October 3, 2013 from 6-9PM. The event features the best of Cape Ann eateries offering food, wine and spirits for one $25 ticket price with the proceeds of ticket sales going to support Cape Ann YMCA Teen Service Trips to New Orleans, Navajo Nation and Nicaragua.

The service trips empower local youth to spend a week working in communities hit by environmental and economic devastation. Teens participate in learning modules before and after traveling on school break to offer hands-on aid in areas of great need. The New Orleans Mission, now in its 4th year, originated as a Cape Ann trip but has generated enough interest to cause its expansion to include youth throughout the North Shore YMCA system two years ago and prompted the addition of the Nicaragua trip in 2013, and the Navajo Nation trip in 2014.

Taste of Cape Ann ticket prices have been lowered to $25 this year (from the original $40 of past years) to invite more local folks to come out, celebrate and enjoy an evening of food, wine and spirits in support of these powerful youth opportunities. The participating restaurant and spirits vendors list is expanding with the boom in new restaurants opening on Cape Ann and the event is expected to fill fast - both for restaurant slots and ticket sales. 
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30th Annual Cape Ann Artisans Fall Open Studio Tour
October 12, 2013 - October 14, 2013 10-4 
Multiple Locations in Gloucester and Rockport
This self-guided tour along the scenic coastline of Gloucester and Rockport presents a unique opportunity to meet more than a dozen professional artists and artisans and see their work in the setting in which it was created. The work represented includes: pottery, painting, sculpture, photography, mosaics, and jewelry. Several of the artists will be demonstrating their working process during the tours. Many studios are open year round by chance or apptointment.

Newburyport Halloween Fundraiser Ball
Newbury Firehall 3 Morgan Way Newbury MA
Friday October 18th 7pm -10pm 
newburyport, halloween, fundraiser, ball, dance, party, cause, gala, jamero marketing suite, jennifer ameroTickets:
Every year the Newburyport Guide joins forces with businesses of the NBPT area & local non profit organizations to bring one huge fundraiser to benefit charity organizations in & around the Holiday Season! HALLOWEEN FUNDRAISER BALL in October will be a 100% fundraiser to benefit the three non profit & wonderful organizations picked this year which are Newbury Firehall, The Boys and Girls Club, and Christmas Tree Santas!! For more info find us on Facebook or go to

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Boats and Bevies and Film Crews, oh my! My night with Wicked Tuna

wicked tuna, national geographic, gloucester, jamero marketing, jennifer amero, union bar and grill, national geographic, hot tunaI spent Tuesday night hanging out with some of the fine folks from National Geographic Television's Wicked Tuna. If you aren't aware of the show, it's on National Geographic TV and features some of Gloucester's finest -5 boats of tuna fishermen - competing in a reality-TV style competition for the highest tuna catch and the highest cash yield from this monstrous and extremely lucrative fish.

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The catching part is hard but the "take" is well worth it. Fish yeild thousands of dollars apiece. This is a high stakes competition.

What makes the show so addictive is the recipe itself for good television - the drama of life at sea with a sprinkle of the gritty and the grandiose, lots of trash talking and hubris not uncommon among seafarers, and all the kick-butt cinematography you'd expect from a National Geographic production, on the water.

wicked tuna, national geographic, gloucester, jamero marketing, jennifer amero, union bar and grill, national geographic, hot tuna, felicia grossi, wicked goodPlus, it's filmed here on my island and readers can catch a real sense of what island life is like for us salty folk - you'll understand our sense of community and work ethic,  and the unique blend of cultural, professional,and historical island pride that makes this place very, very special to live. PS cute hard working fishermen ;-)

The evening started with a meet up on the boat of a "rumored" addition to the show's cast of characters who treated media and distinguished guests from the pr firms of both Alchemy Bistro, part of the Serenitee Restaurant Group and Union Bar and Grill, part of the Aquataine Restaurant Group in Boston. The thread of the event was that the current exec chef at Alchemy is the former exec chef at Union. In addition to the VIP boat trip, we were headed to watch the opposing two chefs compete in a Wicked Tuna Throwdown to be held later that night at Alchemy. But first, boat drinks.

wicked tuna, national geographic, gloucester, jamero marketing, jennifer amero, union bar and grill, national geographic, hot tuna, felicia grossi, wicked goodOn board we shared more than a few laughs and goofy photo ops and a sampling of Alchemy Bistro's prize winning cocktail, "Wicked Good Time", made with locally distilled Ryan And Wood "Folly Cove Rum", which beautiful and talented mixologist Felicia Grossi prepped and poured for media, staff and crew. Crew members were warm, welcoming hosts and a lively time was had getting to know the guys, their girls, some of the folks from National Geographic and other press members invited to cover the evening.

wicked tuna, national geographic, gloucester, jamero marketing, jennifer amero, union bar and grill, national geographic, hot tuna, charles haynes, aquataineI was particularly pumped to get a chance to drive the boat and more pumped to see the cute lil Jerry Garcia doll on the dash. I have the same one. It's a deadhead thing and I felt a certain kinship and also much safer with "Jerry as my co-pilot" as I took the final turn at the wheel, bringing the boat back in to Fisherman's Wharf and St Peter's Square. I also enjoyed the opportunity to show off my inner townie boat chick and TJ and Tim from the crew found that quite funny, assuming I was just press, not local. Yeah, I live here.

wicked tuna, national geographic, gloucester, jamero marketing, jennifer amero, union bar and grill, national geographic, hot tuna, shelley wigglesworth, yankee magazine, chad sandhasSufficiently lubricated on Felicia's potent potion, yet with solid sea legs intact, we made our way onto the dock for the walk to Alchemy where we were met in the street by hordes of film folks handing out releases - we were gonna be on camera. Slight panic set in as I assessed my appearance. Too late to change up now, in I went, confident that the tight shots on the tuna boys would spare me any awkward thigh shots on national TV.

The evening was a frenzy of lights, camera,
wicked tuna, national geographic, gloucester, jamero marketing, jennifer amero, union bar and grill, national geographic, hot tuna, felicia grossi, mixology, alchemy bistroaction hustle and bustle that surrounded the crew and though the chef showdown was reason we were all gathered, the presence of "Hollywood in action" really became all there was to take in. In fact, after a couple hours of watching the filming and schmoozing with locals and show folks, I caved in to hunger and went home to eat. Hangry Jen is not pretty and it was, after all, a school night.

The tuna, I hear, was to die for and it seems the local chef won. I'm sad I missed out but was very happy to have had the chance to see this all in action. It was really something -getting a chance to meet the stars and the production folks, the pr people and all the many players in making Wicked Tuna wicked good. 
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And the best part, I walked away with some cool new contacts, including the crew of Hot Tuna, Tim, TJ, Ryan, and Jared (who is a hoot AND will be a very fun addition next season, allegedly, of course) plus the wonderful Chad Sandhas from National Geographic, and writer Shelley Wigglesworth from Yankee Magazine, The York County Coast Star, The Maine Lobstermen's Association and National Fisherman
Magazine, both of whom where here for the event AND a day of tuna fishing the next morning. They got lucky, too - Chad sent me a pic of the tuna the crew caught, and humbly admitted he was merely an awestruck witness to the catch. Great folks, all of them. "Salt of the earth", as we say in Glosta.

I also left with the recipe for Felicia's cocktail. And I'm willing to share. It's below and it's "Wicked Good". All in all, I had a wicked good time with some wicked good folks.

The Wicked Good Time - Alchemy Bistro, created by Felicia Grossi
Make a mixture is superfine sugar and cinnamon for rimming the glass.

1.5 oz  Ryan and Wood Distilleries Folly Cove Rum  

1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz lemon
1/2 oz simple syrup
garnish with orange
wicked tuna, national geographic, gloucester, jamero marketing, jennifer amero, union bar and grill, national geographic, hot tuna, tj, felicia grossi, alchemy bistro, restaurantserved up.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Really Good Social Media Moment

So today is my birthday. And, with the power of social media connecting all of our profiles and devices, you probably already saw that in some calendar somewhere, though we may have never actually met. But that knowledge, though eerily Brave New World when you think about it, is a pretty handy tool when it comes to hyperlocal marketing and engagement.

Joey Ciaramitaro owns Captain Joe & Sons Wholesale Lobster Company and writes/creates Good Morning Gloucester , a very high traffic, high energy blog about life on the North Shore. Alicia Cox owns Mamie's Kitchen and is a major up-and-comer in the small business world and a great community member. They are both Social Media megaforces. They totally tricked out my birthday and promoted their businesses in the ultimate twitter play. A person could learn a thing or two here.

Here's what happened this morning in my world.

  1. 3h
     and  favorited your Tweet
    Now that's some good Social Media in action. And some good coffee roll. If you aren't using social to launch your business you're losing business. If you haven't been to Mamie's, you're missing out.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wicked Tuna Throwndown - Tonight at Alchemy Bistro

Last minute shout out about this event, happening tonight. I'm attending, so if you (sadface) can't make it you'll still get the long hand version of what went down AFTER I get back to my laptop. 

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Date: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Throw Down: 7:30 pm
Cost: $25
Location: Alchemy, 3 Duncan Street
Gloucester, MA 01930 978-281-3997

Here are some reasons to go to Alchemy tonight for this event:
1.It's raining.
2. It's Tuesday. 
3.Alchemy is toasty. 
4.Wicked Tuna is wicked cool. 
5.Throw-downs are exciting. 
6. These guys are famous. The guys from Wicked Tuna,  that is. I get to kvetch with them on their boat first. Not sure who, if anyone from the boats will be there. I assume they'll be joining us and that'd be wicked sweet.
7. I used to work for this restaurant group and I assure you, there'll be no shortage of fun-around-food here.
8. I'll be there.

About the Throw Down:

Alchemy's Chef Scott Jensen has challenged Chef Steve Morlino of Union Bar and Grille (where Jensen got his start) to a Wicked Tuna throw down! Both chefs will whip up their best dish using the famed tuna – yes, the tuna from the show – and guests will choose which chef comes out on top.

At the event, every guest gets a signature challenge cocktail made with Gloucester’s own Ryan & Wood spirits, a Wicked Tuna dish from each chef, and the opportunity to cast their vote for the winner.

About the Show:

Here's the dish on Wicked Tuna, in case you don't have a tv or have been abroad for the summer.
Airs on National Geographic Channel. Check their website for the schedule in your Time Zone.

Fishing is a hard life, and harder with bluefin stocks depleted. In Gloucester, Massachusetts, there's a special breed of fishermen. For generations they've used rod and reel to catch the elusive bluefin tuna. They depend on these fish for their livelihood, and the competition is brutal.

Over the next 10 weeks, the most skilled fishermen will set out in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic in hopes of catching the valuable bluefin tuna. When one bluefin can bring in as much as $20,000—they'll do whatever it takes to hook up.