Theatre Review: Christopher Wheeldon’s “Swan Lake” 2018

Dylan Gutierrez and Victoria Jaiani – Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

“Swan Lake” was breathtaking!

Victoria Jaiani, Dylan Gutierrez and Fabrice Calmels lead an outstanding ensemble for opening night in the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. In Christopher Wheeldon’s “Swan Lake”, the Principal Dancer’s (Gutierrez) vivid imagination seemed more like reality than fantasy. While he envisioned his dance company’s future performance of “Swan Lake”, the audience was whisked away into the fairytale realm where a Prince meets a bevy of swans with a supernatural secret. The Dancer genuinely fell in love in the pretend world with the lovely swan queen (Jaiani), and that remarkable fantasy began to merge with his reality.

Victoria Jaiani and Dylan Gutierrez – Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

In real life, the Dancer was drawn to a beautiful ballerina at the evening gala, because she reminded him of the swan queen in his dreams. The Principal Dancer and swan queen were front and center for many of yesterday’s scenes. They were surrounded by a sea of gifted dancers who portrayed swan maidens and fellow dancers in the studio. The Patron (Calmels) was absolutely terrifying as the fantasy realm’s Van Rothbart. He made you believe he was truly evil by his sinister moves and dramatic makeup. He did an amazing job.

Scenes to anticipate in Christopher Wheeldon’s version are the swan maidens’ lively first appearance and the evening gala. The variety of dance styles in the latter slightly remind you of the classic “Nutcracker”. The Russian Dance, Spanish Dance, Czardes and Can-Can gave ballet lovers a good introduction to dance diversity around the world. You can’t help but feel “Winning Works” came early this year.

The Joffrey Ballet – Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

Valeria Chaykina, Nicole Ciapponi, Lucia Connolly and Chloe Sherman – Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

“Swan Lake” runs at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL through October 28th.

A Special Thanks to The Silverman Group for the press passes and  photos.

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[Interview] Actress Karen Lesiewicz Excels as a Leading Lady

Photo Credit:  SOLE Productions

The star of “Heavens to Betsy” recently chatted with BTSCelebs about the anticipated sequel to the 2017 inspirational comedy.

Karen Lesiewicz, who is also known for roles in new and soon-to-be released projects like “Path of Egress” and “Come As You Are”, disclosed interesting behind-the-scenes information about who she is,  how she relates to Betsy, her film character’s maturity and so much more.

Check out her exclusive “Heavens to Betsy 2” interview below.

BTSCelebs: Who is Karen Lesiewicz?

Karen Lesiewicz: I’m an actor in the Chicago land area. I grew up in Schaumburg and studied Marketing at the University of Notre Dame where I competed in track and cross country. I now reside in Chicago and focus my energy on building my Film and Television career. I enjoy themed parties, leaving sporting events early, and temporarily jumping on the latest heath craze (ask me about the juicer I’ve forgotten about)

In the first movie Betsy’s life completely transforms and makes her reevaluate everything, how has Betsy changed in the second film?

In ‘Heavens to Betsy 2’, Betsy is more confident in herself. In the first film we see her relationship with God is very one-demential; she treats God as if he is Santa Claus. By the end of the movie, Betsy has a deeper understanding of her Faith and role God plays in her life.

In ‘Heavens to Betsy 2’, Betsy moves through life with greater purpose, yet faced with ongoing obstacles that come with speaking your truth. She is better equipped in the second movie to deal with these challenges and finds peace in staying true to herself and speaking God’s Will.

Are there any life experiences that Betsy goes through in the new film that mirror your own life? 

Photo Courtesy of Karen Lesiewicz

In the second movie Betsy begins her career as a professional writer. Some of the challenges she faces as a professional businesswoman I can relate to in beginning my own acting career. Both journeys require courage to lead an unconventional life and faith in yourself to prevail against challenges.

Was there a moment when you were starstruck by your fellow cast and crew on set?

Karen, writer/director Robert Alaniz and actor Jim O’Heir (Parks & Recreation) – Photo Courtesy of Robert Alaniz

Working with such a diverse and talented cast and crew, I was impressed and inspired each day by different people. I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Jim O’Heir again, who always leaves you feeling the perfect combination of both starstruck and like an old-time friend. Francine Locke, who plays Christian talk show host Clarice Staples, was an amazing addition to the talented cast whom I was lucky enough to work with and learn from.

I’m from the Chicago area, so I was thrilled to find out Heavens To Betsy was filmed in the Chicagoland area. Tell us about your favorite filming location for the movie?

So many people were generous enough to let us reuse locations for the second film. One of my favorite places we shot at was Gatto’s Italian Restaurant… we filmed there three days and the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating and generous! 

What message do you hope resonates with movie goers after they see the film?

I hope movie goers feel the confidence to stay true to themselves and resist the pressure to follow and comply with popular opinion. 

“Heavens to Betsy 2” is scheduled to be released in early 2019.

A Special Thanks to Karen Lesiewicz and Sole Productions for the exclusive interview and image.

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[Interview] Meet Professional Dancer Xavier Núñez

Photo Credit: The Joffrey Ballet/ Todd Rosenberg

BTSCelebs was recently given the opportunity to interview award-winning dancer Xavier Núñez!

He is one of the gifted dancers who officially joined The Joffrey Ballet this season. Xavier is best known for being a part of prestigious companies like American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, The Tulsa Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet and performing in several classics such as “The Sleeping Beauty”, “The Nutcracker”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Cinderella”.

Let’s take a look at his exclusive interview now.

BTSCelebs: Describe yourself in a few sentences.

Xavier Núñez: I am a young creative mind doing what I love most. Passionate about dance and short filmmaking. Between dance, freelance media content creation, and school: I live a busy life. I love to be surrounded by my family and friends, even if it’s only a video call at times. 

How did you get interested in ballet?

I started like most young boys…doing a different style of dance. I thought I would be doing more hip hop and jazz, but little did I know I was in a school that focused on ballet. I never loved it, in fact, I quit for a year in high school.  I eventually returned to it because I missed my friends. Upon returning we had a new male ballet master. Through him, I was shown the male role in ballet and I finally fell in love with dance. A life in tights isn’t as girly as I thought. 

 Why did you choose to be a part of The Joffrey Ballet?

I have been a part of multiple companies now and have had a taste of what is out there. I knew what I was looking for. Since my first audition at The Joffrey Ballet, I knew I found something special. Besides the repertoire and reputation that The Joffrey Ballet holds in the dance world, it has an incredible work environment. A place that is fun and makes you happy to be part of is something I saw from the beginning. 

Tell us about one unforgettable experience you’ve had in Chicago since you’ve joined Joffrey.

Starting the season off with creating a brand-new piece by Yuri Possokhov will always be an unforgettable moment. To be part of something new and to be part of the creative process is an amazing experience. It’s rare that you get to input ideas into new works and have an impact on how a piece turns out. 

 If you had the chance to choreograph one Broadway show, what show would it be? Why would you choose this particular production?

If I could choreograph one Broadway show, it would be Singing in the Rain! It came from a time where there were huge dance stars such as Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and one of my favorites, Donald O’Connor. They made dance cool, and each had a way to make the moves look easy, calm, and fun to watch. 

Which show from Joffrey’s upcoming season are you looking forward to the most?

I am looking forward to ‘Swan Lake’. It’s such a classic. Opening the season with this well-known ballet is a treat.

 Many people are excited for the new season. Please give us one word you think best describes The Joffrey Ballet’s 2018-2019 season. 


A Special Thanks to Xavier Núñez, The Silverman Group and The Joffrey Ballet for the exclusive interview and image. 

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4th Ave Continues Tour This Winter

4th Ave promises a fun-filled 2019!

Recently, the R&B boy band announced the dates for their 2nd tour across the US. January and Februrary will be much brighter for cities like Seattle,  Portland, Oklahoma City, Des Moines and more.

Check out the complete list in the photo above.

All the best to them in the new year!

All rights to image belongs to 4th Ave

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A&A Ballet’s “The Art Deco Nutcracker” is Coming to Chicago

“The Art Deco Nutcracker” opens next month, and A&A Ballet is sharing all the details!

According to an official press release from A&A Ballet and Carol Fox & Associates, the shows will be held in Chicago’s Studebaker Theatre from November 30th thru December 2nd. This year’s talented cast stars Katherine Williams,  Aran Bell, Michael Sayre, A&A Ballet’s company founders Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev , Grace Curry and “a record-setting 175 dancers on stage at once.”

“Set in 1920s America, Kremnev’s ‘The Art Deco Nutcracker,’  featuring Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, is a fresh, yet traditional take on the beloved holiday favorite.”

“‘The Art Deco Nutcracker” is Kremnev’s eighth full-length ballet.” His work has been seen in famous theaters across the world including Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre, Switzerland’s Opernhaus Zurich and New York’s  Lincoln Center.

Learn more about A&A Ballet’s “The Art Deco Nutcracker” by visiting their official website

All rights to the information and images belongs to A&A Ballet.

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Kevin James Keeps the Laughs Coming Online

Kevin Can Wait‘s cancellation was heartbreaking, but thankfully the star from the series is still in good sprits. Veteran actor and comedian Kevin James continues to roll out the jokes on social media. His recent jokes seem to poke fun at his current dieting and workout plans.

Check out some of his quips from the past several days below:

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Stay strong… the struggle is real.

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Happy stupid Saturday…Stay Strong.

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I hope to see him return to TV or an online network soon!

All rights to the image and videos belongs to Kevin James

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“La Boheme” is Now Playing at Lyric Opera

Photo Credit:  Todd Rosenberg and Stefany Phillips (Lyric Opera, Chicago)

Yesterday, the 64th season of the Lyric Opera of Chicago opened with a new co-production of Puccini’s “La Bohème”. It will run thru October 20 and return for 6 performances Jan. 10th-25th.

According to an official press release from The Silverman Group, “Lyric has assembled a magnificent international cast to portray the charming group of young Bohemians navigating the ups and downs of life and love while struggling to make ends meet in 19th-century Paris.”

Maria Agresta portrays Mimì, Danielle de Niese is Musetta, Zachary Nelson is painter Marcello  and Adrian Sâmpetrean is the philosopher Colline. Musician Schaunard, landlord Benoit/Musetta’s gentleman companion Alcindoro and clown Parpignol are played by Ricardo José Rivera, Jake Gardner and Mario Rojas respectively.

“Venezuelan-Swiss conductor Domingo Hindoyan makes his Lyric Opera debut with these performances. The English director Richard Jones staged the new co-production, with stylized yet traditional scenery and costumes by English designer Stewart Laing (Lyric debut) and lighting by American designer Mimi Jordan Sherin.  Lyric’s chorus master Michael Black prepared 60 members of the Lyric Opera Chorus and and children’s chorus master Josephine Lee prepared 21 members of the Chicago Children’s Choir,” the press release concluded.

Welcome to Chicago!


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