Disney’s “Cinderella”: A Review

On Saturday, me and the girls were treated to a special invite from Walt Disney World public relations to have breakfast and enjoy a screening of Cinderella.

Princess Anna, Princess Merida and their siblings...ready for the Cinderella screening!

Princess Anna, Princess Merida and their siblings…ready for the Cinderella screening!

OBVIOUSLY we cleared our schedules and put on our sparkliest shoes for the grand affair.

Honestly, my girls had been chomping at the bit to see this movie for months. MONTHS.

Enter my 6-year-old’s struggle to grasp time (read: “Can we do yesterday the thing we talked about the day before tomorrow?”) and I’ve struggled to explain just how many days we have left before we can see the movie and if that’s a short time or a long time, for what felt like an eternity.

We were delighted to have breakfast before the showing and to even be announced like princesses at a ball by a guardsman in full costume (#DisneyNeverDisappoints) but again I faced the time-space continuum question:

“When are we seeing the movie? Is that a long time from now? Is 15 minutes long or short? Is it NOW?”

At long last, we were invited to enter the theater and lo and behold, we had forgotten, through all the buzz, about Frozen Fever! Did you forget about that gem before the movie?

Enter again the question of time:

“Mommy, why was that movie so SHORT? Where is the REST?”

Clear theme emerging here….we can’t see Cinderella fast enough and we can’t ever get enough of Anna, Elsa and Olaf.

At long last, the much anticipated movie began and we settled quietly into our seats. By now, you’ve surely seen the previews, so you know the theme of courage and kindness is central to the movie. In fact, it is done so artfully and so consistently throughout the movie that I really can’t get Cinderella’s mother’s dying words out of my head “Have courage, be kind,” and my kids keep mentioning it as well.

Overall I thought the movie offers a launching point for many different kinds of conversations with your kids. It tackles death, bullying, confidence, kindness, magic and believing in the good around you, and of course, true love. These are not light topics and honestly, I think this is a movie best suited for mature 5-year-olds and up. There are animals but not the fluffy, animated kind you’re used too from the animated version. There are villains and honestly, Cate Blanchett is among the best sort of villain you could find, but she’s also so good at being awful that she’s just plain awful (#deep).

CInderella_2Admittedly Cinderella has never been one of my favorite princesses and I found myself struggling with just how long it took her to find her voice and stick up for herself.  Eventually it happens and when she finally tells Lady Tremaine that she’s not her mother and she never was, I almost soared out of my seat and shouted in encouragement. Seriously. The flip side is, it gave me a great launching point for a discussion about confidence and speaking up, with my older daughter.

Now, about the death in the movie. Please note that I am someone who generally doesn’t like emotions but I cried multiple times during the movie. Dealing with three parents dying on three separate occasions is a lot, even for the hard hearts among us, like moi. My 6-year-old wasn’t phased by those events, clearly she’s too young to really grasp it. My 9-year-old was moved to “almost tears,” she told me when we were driving home, while I was digging for tissues regularly.

In terms of Cinderella and her voice, while it feels like it takes an eternity for her to speak up to her stepmother, she does use her voice and articulate what she thinks to the Prince from the very beginning. We are given more of a glimpse into their relationship than we’ve ever seen before (did they even exchange words in the animated version?) and her strength of character and belief system is partly what draws him to her, at first. Of course, the other reason is clearly her beauty and her 3-inch-waist, which I definitely found alarming in the ball scene. I know we’re meant to be swept up in the beauty of the gowns and the dancing, along with the Prince’s charm oozing as he says “Believe me, they’re all looking at you,” but I was busily calculating if she has more than an 18-inch-waist and if my daughter were older, would I actually initiate a conversation with her about it.

When I wasn’t caught up in the story, I was totally consumed by the set design, specifically the swan chandelier in Cinderella’s foyer, the wallpaper and paint colors in the house, specifically the grape tones in her stepsister’s room (which she easily abandoned as her own room in the beginning of the movie) and the costumes of her stepsisters. The colors, design and detail were just incredible.

Overall, we really enjoyed the  movie. My oldest, in particular, was completely smitten. I’m left wondering if there needed to be so much death and if she couldn’t have stood up for herself sooner, but as I said, this movie absolutely gives you a launching point for several different kinds of “Teachable moment” conversations with your kids.  And in the end, despite the sadness and the horrible bullying of Cinderella, the theme of courage and kindness is woven consistently throughout the movie and is an important message that even the youngest theater-goer can’t miss.

Have courage, be kind.



On Raising Girls & Raising Boys

This morning I noticed the lead on the network news was the 5 NFL football players who entered the field with their arms up, as a show of support for what is happening in Ferguson. What struck me was this:Here

Photo Courtesy Associated Press

Photo Courtesy Associated Press

were very influential men using their platform to continue a conversation, to make a statement, to influence others.

Step away from your own personal opinion on what they did and Ferguson for a moment to just consider the impact of NFL players using their platform in a very organic way to make a statement, to influence others. It was very authentic. Teams running onto a field in pink shoes. That ain’t authentic.

Five players on national TV making a statement on something they believe in, without saying a word? That is the sort of influence you can’t buy, you can’t plan for and you can’t manufacture, it’s real and it’s tremendous.  And it worked. Everyone is talking about it.

And then my mind started swirling around all the stories about violence against women right here in our country over the last two weeks. The year 2015 is tapping us on the shoulders and yet we are all stunned and shocked by the brutal gang rape of a UVa student during a frat party.

It could be any year with that story. Pick a year. It happened then too.

Where are the NFL players taking a stand with no one pushing them along?

Where are the Hollywood stars?

Where are the NBA players? The political leaders who once pledge a fraternity?

Who is organically leading a movement, who with a tremendous platform to influence MEN, is leading the movement of repulsion for raping women?

This is what turning 9 looks like.

This is what turning 9 looks like.

Because my daughter turned 9 in November. Which arthritis means we’re half way through with her living with us. I blinked and 9 years passed. I will blink again and 9 more years will pass.

Will I be sending her off to college, teaching her how not to get raped, in 9 more years?

What about all the other boys who just turned 9 too? Or just turned 10 or 11? They are going off to college when she is, what will they learn, how will they be influenced? Are their parents worrying and fretting about this issue?

Women were raped at college 9 years ago, 19 years ago and 29 years ago. So right now I am worrying about sending her off in 9 years and having many many hard conversations with her.

Don’t take a drink that you didn’t get yourself.

Don’t go upstairs in a frat house.

Don’t walk alone at night.

Don’t drink too much and lose control.

I keep the running list in my head each time one of these horrific stories breaks. I have 9 more years to perfect my list.

But see, that isn’t enough. It isn’t nearly enough.

This is a conversation about men and boys.  And their parents. And their peers. And their uncles, grandfathers and their idols.

Until we hear from them over and over and over again, spontaneously at the start of an NFL game being broadcast on national TV or at the start of a music concert from their favorite musicians and during a press conference, and any other time you can think of, that raping women is repugnant, evil and makes you a pathetic human being, the scum of the earth, then it won’t stop. Then I will be sending my daughter off in 9 years, hoping she hears my lectures on how not to be raped.

Disney on Ice Frozen: A Review

Last night we made our once annual trek across the river, through the woods and into Virginia to see Disney on Ice. Avid WM fans might recall I vowed to never do this again last year, and oh, probably the year before. But see, this time it was different.


This time it was different for one reason: FROZEN.Frozen_Ticketmasterimage

The geniuses at Disney on Ice knew they could hook even the most cynical, the most battle-torn from commuting to the Patriot Center on a weekday evening during rush hour, with that one special word: FROZEN.

They had me at FROZEN.

I didn’t even put up a fight. Until the time came to quickly feed my children, power through homework and race out the door to battle the traffic and hordes of Frozen fans piling into the Patriot Center. Then I was really second-guessing myself and my decision-making abilities.

But oh, trust me, in the end, it was worth it.

Usually the formula of the Disney on Ice shows is this: multiple acts, a range of different Disney movies, broad appeal to boys and girls. But not this time. They deviated completely from that magical formula and just gave us a pure FROZEN show.

And the audience was filled not only with mini-Anna’s, Elsa’s and Olafs, but the crowd erupted in a sing-along during Queen Elsa’s “Let It Go” performance. Even the coldest, most battle-torn-from-traffic heart, must have melted in the audience at that moment.

My eldest, never one to like change, relented that she still prefers the more traditional format of multiple story lines and many characters during the Disney on Ice shows but she also loved last night’s performance. My youngest sat mesmerized the entire time. Me and Mr. WM, we both gave it a huge thumbs up.

There’s one thing I give a huge thumbs-down too, the people who buy their kids those light up spinning things, and then let them raise their arms straight up and spin the thing through the entire performance. I counted, there were three of those people last night, two of them right in front of us.


Olaf and his entourage performing to "In Summer."

Olaf and his entourage performing to “In Summer.”

“In Summer” starring Olaf is a total fan-favorite chez moi. Accompanying Olaf on the ice last night were dancing butterflies, flowers and bumble bees. How great is that? Visually so creative and colorful.

Sven and his sled – absolutely spectacular, as were the trolls. Perhaps we are more ancillary character fans in my house?

I caution you, do not leave early to beat the crowds because the very end..the ultimate grande finale, brings Disney princesses, Nemo, Lion King friends and Toy Story characters onto the ice, for the final thrill.

For video captures of last night’s performance, you are welcome to check my Instagram feed @wiredmomma, I posted a few there. But really, my advice is take a break from pumpkin patches and soccer games this weekend and relax in the Patriot Center. The performance is just under 2 hours and there is an intermission. Also, a new show was added for Monday October 27 due to the popularity of the performances. For show times and prices, click here.

Disclosure: Feld Entertainment invited me and my family to attend the show as guests. My opinions here are all my own.

Imagination Stage’s The Night Fairy: A Review

Saturday evening we were lucky enough to enjoy Imagination Stage’s new production The Night Fairy, which kicks off the theatre’s 2014-2014 season.  Unfortunately we haven’t yet read the book The Night Fairy written by Baltimore-based author Laura Amy Schlitz but my eldest since added it to the top of her list.

Flory, the Night Fairy, played by Tia Shearer. Photo credit: Imagination Stage

Flory, the Night Fairy, played by Tia Shearer. Photo credit: Imagination Stage

My youngest has been a hardcore fairy lover for several years now. She tends to get most of her fairy inspiration from Tinkerbelle but she’ll take any fairy she can get – definitely not picky over here. My oldest is neutral on fairies but she’s a hardcore animal lover. I knew going into the play that it would be a true hit with our crowd.

Flory is the star of the play, a night time fairy who tries to live in the day time world. But it’s her supporting cast of animal garden friends, led by Skuggle, the squirrel, who help deliver a must-see performance for kids ages 4-10.

Flory gets her wings snipped by a bat one night and finds herself without any friends living in a garden. Skuggle, who before running into Flory, was perfectly content living nameless while constantly scrounging for food, quickly surmises that Flory is a night-time fairy and shouldn’t be out during the day. The creative explanation for what makes for a night or day fairy is perfect for the kids and made absolute sense to mine.

Skuggle the ever-hungry Squirrel played by Erin Weaver. Photo credit: Imagination Stage.

Skuggle the ever-hungry Squirrel played by Erin Weaver. Photo credit: Imagination Stage.

Flory goes about trying to fit in during the day time while learning valuable lessons about friendship, loyalty and how to be brave. Beyond Skuggle, the totally hilarious squirrel played by Erin Weaver, we meet a hummingbird, a racoon, a wren, a spider and a bat throughout the hour long play. The audience is whisked away into the possibilities of garden adventure through the tall grass, willowy trees and blossoming flowers in your own back yard.

The play relies not only on valuable lessons in friendship but some classic physical comedy and outstanding animal costumes and set design to deliver a home run performance. I’m always especially happy when they don’t break for intermission, which this play does not. It really is an outstanding, fun, creative and heartfelt performance perfectly suited for kids ages 4-10.

My girls absolutely loved it and I’d totally go again. Frankly, I found myself hoping there would be a school field trip before the play closes on October 26.

Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased here. Catch The Night Fairy Saturdays and Sundays between now and the end of October.  Beware Disney and dog lovers – next up at Imagination Stage: 101 Dalmatians from November 19 – January 11, 2015.

Disclosure: Imagination Stage invited me and my family to attend opening night. My opinions here are all my own.