“Secret Providence” Available For Pre Order

secretcoverMy new book, “Secret Providence: A Guide To The Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure,” will release this August!

There will be lots of local opportunities to get a signed copy at book signings and talks, but you  can pre order your copy NOW at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Books On The Square, such a cute local bookstore (and a 100 Things To Do in Providence Before You Die item), is also taking orders and will call customers when the book comes in.

Can’t wait? Here’s a little bit about the book and you take a peek at some #secretpvd spots over on the #100ThingsPVD Instagram!

Where in Providence can you…pay homage to the birth of sideburns?…see a tree that “ate” a state founder?…get a glimpse of a 58-foot blue bug?…spend the afternoon at the home of America’s longest-played baseball game?…explore a castle in the middle of the city? You’ll find all these unique-and often little-known-landmarks, attractions and hidden gems and more inside Secret Providence: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure. Whether you’re interested in Rhode Island’s haunted, hysterical, surprising or somber, Secret Providence, gives you insider access to all the mysteries you never knew the city was holding and takes you on a tour like none you’ve seen before.

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Rebecca K.

 

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#44 Cheer On The Providence Bruins

I’ve always loved hockey and it’s mostly because of the fights.

This always comes as a surprise to most folks who know me best as a dress-loving, makeup-on girly-girl. A coworker once was in such disbelief that I was going camping, she asked if I knew I shouldn’t wear heels in the mountains.

(Side note: You can both embrace your femininity and a little tent-pitching excursion. But, she was right, the latter is not best done in heels.)

I pinpoint my hockey fascination to hours spent at high school games. My closest girlfriends both had boyfriends on the varsity squad and Friday nights often found us huddled close together in the stands, hot chocolate in hands. My boyfriend was the water boy, but that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, it seems I’ve finally convinced the male members of my family that I actually know one or two things about the game and they let me tag along to a Providence Bruins game.

The Providence Bruins—the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins—play their home games at the city’s Dunkin’ Donuts Center (how much more New England could you get?), an indoor arena that can host over 11,000 fans for ice hockey games.

Providence has hosted minor league hockey since 1992, after infamous then-mayor Buddy Cianci (RIP, Buddy) who—on top of everything else great he did for the city—made it happen by moving the Maine Mariners franchise here.

Win or lose, the game is a guaranteed good time. At our recent outing, they won and there were a few good fights, too!

As is my family’s tradition, we pre-gamed at Trinity Brewhouse and enjoyed a few local beers and some great pub food. Tip: This downcity hot spot is packed on game days so reservations are a good idea.

 

 

PPAC’s New Season: Hamilton’s Coming!

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Providence Performing Arts Center Invites Everyone to “Indulge Your Love of Broadway” during 2017/2018, celebrating 40 Years of Broadway’s Best.

The biggest news around the Providence Performing Arts Center’s 2017-2018 season isn’t about next season at all. Instead, it’s that Hamilton—yes, that Hamilton—will play here in Providence the season after.

While we’ll all have to wait until the 2018/2019 season for this Broadway smash, the right time to buy a PPAC season subscription is RIGHT NOW since subscribers are guaranteed tickets for Hamilton’s run here. If history repeats itself during Hamilton’s national tour, tickets could be hard to come by!

But back to the 2017/2018 Broadway Season.

The TACO/White Family Foundation Broadway Series is, of course, full of showstoppers and surprises: “Fun Home,” “Finding Neverland,” “Love Never Dies,” “On Your Feet! The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Musical,” “The Bodyguard,” “An American In Paris” and Something Rotten!

In addition, The Encore Series includes the national tour launch of Broadway staple “Les Misérables” and the return of Kinky Boots—the 2013 Best Musical Tony Award Winner that also shot Cyndi Lauper to Broadway fame when she won Best Score (same year) on her first Tony nomination.

Listen, if you haven’t seen “Kinky Boots” and you buy tickets to but one of PPAC’s shows next season, make it that one. I took my mother the first time it played here, during its 2015 national tour, and watching her laugh throughout the production—except, of course, at the sad parts—was one of the best afternoons I’ve ever spent.

Personally, I’ve got my eye on “Finding Neverland.” The first musical I ever saw live was “Peter Pan,” way back in the 1980s in Boston and it was what hooked me on this particular genre of entertainment.

Once again, PPAC is delivering an A+ season, making Broadway-level shows accessible right here in Providence. Bravo!

 

 

#24 Take In A Broadway Show At The Providence Performing Arts Center

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What a show, what an experience, what a night!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” opened at Providence Performance Arts Center the other night—it runs through this Sunday, Feb. 12 and there’s still time to get your tickets—and I was lucky enough to be in the audience.

When I recently spoke with cast member Francesca Choy-Kee, she told me the play—the 2015 Tony Award winner for best play—was like nothing else running today. She was right and in all the best ways.

“Curious” revolves around 15-year-old Christopher, an assumed autistic (it is never expressly stated) youth whose interest in the gruesome murder of his neighbor’s dog ends up taking him on a journey that uncovers family secrets and challenges his controlled world.

But what the play really is about is experiencing the world as a boy like Christopher might—a world where almost every encounter with another person could send your senses into overdrive—and the added difficulties this brings when those who are meant to keep you safe lie and betray you.

“Curious” succeeds because it utilizes storytelling techniques that may seem unusual.

Its set is designed to put you inside Christopher’s head, the way dialogue and choreography typically might. The play’s few main characters—Christopher, his family, his teacher and a couple of neighbors whose importance is revealed slowly throughout the story—stay within a sort of box lit by a giant type of green screen onto which Christopher’s thoughts are projected.

They move with the help of the supporting cast to convey when they might be sleeping or swimming, but the idea is to stir the audience’s empathy. They are viewing the action the way Christopher does his whole life—from a point where everything is either blurry or larger-than-life.

This is done most exceptionally when Christopher travels from his small town in England to London and is overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds of a large Tube station as he tries to navigate his way through the trek.

Mark Haddon, the author of the book on which “Curious” was based, has said his work was not about autism. In fact, he did no research into autism for his book and directors, critics and others have debated the authenticity with which Boone’s autism is portrayed.

Haddon has said that “Curious” is “a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way.”

And couldn’t we all use a little more of that?

P.S. PPAC announces their 2017-2018 season—sure to be another lineup of superb shows—this Valentine’s Day, Tuesday, Feb. 14. Look for a recap right here on 100ThingsPVD.com.

 

PPAC Gets “Curious”: A Chat With Cast Member Francesca Choy-Kee

Nothing motivates me more to keep pursuing my dreams than listening to others talk about their path to success, and I was particularly inspired during my recent chat with Francesca Choy-Kee, part of the ensemble “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nite-Time”, the 2015 Tony Award-winning play on its national tour and playing in Providence Feb. 07-12.

(That’s next week so go get your tix STAT).

How lucky are we Rhode Islanders to live so close to the Providence Performing Arts Center, such a gorgeous theater with such a gilded history? Decked in 1920s opulence and on the National Register of Historic Places, PPAC is a favorite for Broadway show tours, pre-Broadway runs and national tour openings.

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nite-Time” is the story of a 15-year-old boy and mathematical genius and his investigation into the death of a neighbor’s dog, which proves to reveal the answers to more mysteries than the one he first set out to solve.

“The best way to see this play is with a complete open mind. It defies expectations in a lot of ways and I think you’ll find it pretty fantastic,” Choy-Kee told me. “This boy goes on an extraordinary journey and through that you get a lens into how he sees the world and the set is devised to give the audience a very three-dimensional view of what it is to walk in the shoes of this character.”

Choy-Kee was talking specifically about the use of lights and sounds—and constant movement of the cast that makes it a very physically grueling show—that she says takes the audience’s “Physical senses for a ride.”

“And the choreography is pretty transformative as well,” she said. “Everyone is moving. In a musical, if a character is going through something emotional, they sing. Here, there is movement. And I think that’s another way in which the audience is going to resonate with the play.”

Choy-Kee, who had her Broadway premiere in “Disgraced”—the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner that ran on Broadway in late 2014—alongside Gretchen Mohl and Josh Radnor, holds an MFA in acting from NYU’s Graduate Acting Program and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in drama from NYU and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

She’s also appeared Off-Broadway in “Out of the Mouths of Babes” (world premiere) and regionally in “Agnes Under the Big.” If you’re a fan of the CBS show “Elementary,” you likely recognized her in the season-two episode “To Whom It May Concern.”

Her PPAC sting will be her first visit to Providence and to Rhode Island. Choy-Kee told me she’s looking forward to visiting the Newport mansions, checking out the Dean Hotel, re-energizing with a great cup of coffee and browsing our local book shops. She’s also hoping to take a stroll through the city just to check out the scene.

100ThingsPVD: When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

Choy-Kee: From a young age, I had an excitement about Broadway and musicals and that aspect of storytelling. The very first music I was listening to was Broadway musicals and my first tape was My Fair Lady. Then I was doing school plays—that’s when many people start, through school programs—and I was taking piano and violin. And, I lived very close to New York City, about 45 minutes outside, and I had incredible access to the theatre arts in New York. The bug sort of got its hooks into me and never let go. When I was at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (in London), I really fell in love again.

100ThingsPVD: What was your first “I’ve made it” moment?

Choy-Kee: Like most freelance professions, acting is nonlinear. So, there have been moments where I’ve said, I can’t believe it—I am a professional actor and this how I’m making my daily bread and what an exciting and extraordinary thing. But, there are times when you’re not working at the thing you’ve studied so hard to do and auditioning or when you’re waiting tables or babysitting. When I did Disgraced—that was one of those (oh my God) moments.

100ThingsPVD: What is your dream role?

Choy-Kee: I find with every role I end up playing here is a connection. I love Shakespeare, so I would love to work at the Royal Shakespeare Company doing Hermione or Cleopatra. That to me would be the pinnacle of a really charged and exciting project. I would love to originate a role that moves on to success. And, then there’s film and TV. Who doesn’t want an HBO series, right?

100ThingsPVD: Who, living or deceased, would you most like to have dinner with?

Choy-Kee: I’m always so tempted to say one of so many incredible writers, world leaders and celebrities but I would love to sit down with my dad. He passed away in 2007 and I was right in the middle of my graduate school program and he’s missed a lot (since then) and there are a lot of things I would like to share with him. I’d love to have him come to one of my plays and then go out and have a talk about we’ve both been up to in the last 10 years.

100ThingsPVD: What’s one item you must have with you while you’re on the road?

Choy-Kee: Because this show is so physical, my go-to has definitely been Epsom salt. It’s nice to know if the muscles are hurting and I need to decompress, I can throw those babies in some hot water and have a spa vacation for 45 minutes in my hotel room.

#18 Try a Different Dish Every Night During Restaurant Week

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not the holiday season (although that’s close) but to foodies like me, this week is akin to waking up to a Christmas stocking full of tasty treats and shiny new toys.

This is Providence Restaurant Week.

Twice a year – traditionally in January and July – restaurants across the city and beyond offer three-course lunch and dinner menus at special pricing (typically $14.95 and $29.95 or $34.95) to encourage dining out during the “slow” months.

I say “slow” with quotations because we all know Rhode Islanders LOVE to eat out-and who can blame them since they live in a state known for its culinary excellence.

This means we have the good fortune of being able to treat ourselves to meals at local eateries we’ve been dying to try at a fraction of the normal bill. I mean, three courses – starter, entree AND dessert for $30-ish? It’s a deal too good not to eat up.

(When 100ThingsPVD was published, restaurants were offering two courses at lunch).

January 2017’s Restaurant Week is actually two weeks long – ending this coming weekend – and though I’ve gotten out far less than I would have liked this time around, I had the pleasure of visiting Cassarino’s Ristorante on Atwells Avenue for a late birthday lunch with my brother, sister-in-law and niece (below).

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This year, the Federal Hill staple allows restaurant week diners to choose any entree (with an added cost for substitutions such as gluten-free pasta and some specialties) for their main course. After enjoying Caesar and spinach salads (done to perfection with goat cheese and a champagne raspberry vinaigrette), we ordered the Marsala chicken, clams Zuppa (shown above) and BBQ pizza – a serious crowd-pleaser (not an easy accomplishment for some of the pickier eaters at my table).

We had choices of Cannoli and tiramisu for dessert but selected the unbelievably creamy cheesecake with a moist but sturdy graham-cracker crust.

As enticing as our meal was enjoying an understated elegant lunch on an otherwise dreary Saturday afternoon, which we probably would not normally had done. With attentive but not intrusive table service and a casually sophisticated atmosphere, Cassarino’s was the perfect choice for a party of varying palates.

There’s still time to get out and enjoy one of the city’s many splendid restaurants before we have to wait until July for another restaurant week and I hope you find time for a fine meal with family and friends.

(Other cities across the state also offer restaurant weeks, including Newport (March 27-April 7), Narragansett (March 17-26) and Block Island (typically in June).

Bon appétit!

#100ThingsPVD On PattyJ.com Winter Edition

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RI Brew Fest / Photo Courtesy of Gray Matter Marketing

The phenomenal and fabulous Patty J of PattyJ.com – if you aren’t following the two-time Best Of RI Lifestyle Blog winner you must do it now – once again welcomed me to share my insider tips for the funnest things to do in Providence, RI.

This time, we talked winter fun. From ice skating to sampling the fine craft beers our state produces at one of its best annual festivals, there’s a lot to explore during winter in the city!

Head on over to PattyJ.com to see my picks for what to do and where to eat this season.

XO, Rebecca