Theatre Review: “Jane Eyre”

Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

“Jane Eyre” is a masterpiece that deserves to be seen again and again!

On October 16, BTSCelebs attended the premiere of the classic “Jane Eyre” and was completely blown away. Cathy Marston’s adaptation was pure genius. It honored the original story, while giving the audience an amazing visual of the main characters’ emotions. For this particular performance,  Amanda Assucena  and Greig Matthews exceptionally played the main roles of Jane and Rochester. Christine Rocas was mesmerizing as Bertha. The ensemble of D-Men are absolutely stunning. I can’t praise the dancers in this production enough. Jane Eyre is one of my personal favorites, and Joffrey did not disappoint.

Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

The story “Jane Eyre” is all about a young girl suffering immeasurable hardship during her childhood, and finding a way to overcome the odds to carve a life out for herself. Over time. she successfully lands a good job as a governess for the cold and mysterious Edward Rochester. As she spends time with his energetic daughter, she and Edward grow closer and fall in love. However, their happy ending is threatened forever by the appearance of an unexpected character.

Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

This production earned the standing ovation it received opening night. You don’t want to miss this jewel. It’s a one of a kind experience.

“Jane Eyre” will only run for 9 more performances thru October 27th at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.

BTSCelebs sends a special thanks to The Silverman Group and The Joffrey Ballet for the press passes. 

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Book Review: Carla Laureano’s The Solid Grounds Coffee Company

Another modern-day romance has arrived! 

After learning all about Rachel and Melody, author Carla Laureano decided to place the spotlight on the third friend, the strong, independent publicist Ana Sanchez.

In “The Solid Grounds Coffee Company”, Ana’s heart and biggest secret is revealed. From finding true love to realizing the value of her career choice, Ana slowly matures in this romantic novel. She wonders if she can maintain her seemingly perfect lifestyle as life takes an unexpected turn and her secret surfaces. Ana’s soulmate, Bryan Shaw, has quite a bit of growing up to do as well! Following an unwelcomed visit from his past, Bryan abandons his irresponsible playboy lifestyle and starts his own “coffee company”. His new business is the key to bringing the two together and helping heal their broken hearts.

“The Solid Grounds Coffee Company” is a good installment to wrap up “A Supper Club Novel” series…. with the best ending.  Throughout the novel, there is love, solid friendship, faith and plenty of food and coffee to make readers hungry for homecooked meals.  The book turns out to be a very modern romance that is sure to interest people of all faiths.

“The Solid Grounds Coffee Company” releases in February 2020.

*A Special Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for the advance reader copy of the book*

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Kel Mitchell Gushes About His Current Training Schedule

Photo Credit: @iamkelmitchell

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Opera Review: Lyric’s “The Barber of Seville”

Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg

The Lyric Opera of Chicago had a terrific opening night!

BTSCelebs was given the opportunity to attend last night’s performance of “The Barber of Seville”. This delightful Italian classic came to life through Lyric’s wonderful adaptation. From the flawless singing to the hilarious acting, Lyric’s production is absolute perfection! Stars Marianne Crebassa and Lawrence Brownlee literally make you believe they are the hopelessly in love couple Rosina and Count Almaviva, while Adam Plachetka excels as the meddling barber/matchmaker Figaro. Alessandro Corbelli is absolutely hilarious as Rosina’s elderly guardian Bartolo, and Krzysztof Bączyk’s Lyric debut as the pious music instructor Basilio was unforgettable.

As many fans know, “The Barber of Seville” is centered on Rosina and Count Almaviva’s lighthearted romance. It was love at first sight for Rosina and the Count. After their first chance meeting, he serenades her outside her home, until Figaro concocts a plan to sneak him into her house to see her again. The two men’s wild journey begins as the Count impersonates a soldier and a music instructor to secretly meet his love. Little did they know, the fight against her elderly suitor Bartolo will prove to be the biggest challenge of all.  Thankfully, the Count’s monumental secret is his most powerful weapon.

Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg

I can’t discredit any of the performers in this opera production! Everyone gives 100%, and I applaud them all. Director Rob Ashford, conductor Sir Andrew Davis, chorus master Michael Blackset, set designer Scott Pask, costume designer Catherine Zuber and more all deserve standing ovations. Bravo!

BTSCelebs highly recommends “The Barber of Seville” for all ages. You can catch the remaining seven performances on October 2, 5, 10, 13, 18, 21 and 27  at The Lyric Opera House in Chicago, IL.

BTSCelebs sends a special thanks to The Silverman Group and The Lyric Opera of Chicago for the press passes. 

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[Interview] The Joffrey Ballet’s Jane Eyre, Amanda Assucena, Promises a “Fearless” Season

Greig Matthews and Amanda Assucena. Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

On October 16th, The Joffrey Ballet plans to bring one of my favorite classics to life!

“Jane Eyre” is the story of a girl who has to overcome unbelievable hardship to find her own happy ending. Following a terrible childhood, Jane lands a job as a governess for a cold and mysterious man that just happens to be her soulmate. The  astonishing love story has many twists and turns that requires an exceptionally talented person to portray. Joffrey found that talent in dancer Amanda Assucena. Recently, BTSCelebs was given the opportunity to interview Amanda and learn a little more about her and the exciting story that awaits us.

BTSCelebs: Who is Amanda Assucena?

Amanda Assucena: I’m a dancer with The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. In my seven seasons with the Company, I have performed the lead roles in several ballets such as Romeo & Juliet, Cinderella, Swan Lake, Giselle, and Anna Karenina.

What attracted you to Chicago’s dance scene?

I have noticed that the Chicago dance scene is incredibly diverse and supportive of each other. There is always a new performance to go watch and new works by different companies that inspire me to keep exploring my range of movement.

Tell us about one unforgettable moment during your very first performance with The Joffrey Ballet.

My very first performance with the Joffrey was Le Sacre du Printemps, with choreography by Nijinsky and music by Stravinsky. We were collaborating with one of the best orchestras in the world, The Cleveland Orchestra. I remember the first rehearsal of the piece with a full orchestra, and there was a section of the ballet where I could sit and watch the dancers and musicians feeding off each other’s energy, and creating something incredibly powerful on that stage. At that moment I told myself to never take a single day of the amazing job I have for granted. Not everyone gets to live incredible stories and listen to amazing live music on a daily basis, and that’s what this career and the Joffrey has given me.

What was your knowledge of “Jane Eyre” before this adaptation?

I knew about the love story and that it was big part of literature, but not much more than that. I am really enjoying the process of getting deeper into the woman that is Jane Eyre.

Do you share any similarities with Jane Eyre in real life? How do you differ from the character?

Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

I think Jane and I are very similar in our ambitions. She is someone that knows her potential and knows it takes hard work and determination to achieve your goals. We differ in the sense that I believe Jane is someone who is very sure of who she is and how she deals with situations. She goes through a whole lot of trauma throughout her life, and that shapes her into a strong woman very early on. I believe I am still constantly learning new things about who I am and who I want to be.

What should the audience anticipate from this upcoming production?

The audience can expect an incredible journey of a woman overcoming obstacles and remaining true to herself.

If you could pick one word to describe Joffrey’s 2019-2020 season, what would it be and why?

Fearless. Why? Come and see for yourself!

Click Here to learn more about Amanda Assucena by reading her bio on Joffrey’s official website.

“Jane Eyre” will run for 10 performances October 16th-27th at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.

A Special Thanks to The Silverman Group, The Joffrey Ballet and Amanda Assucena for the exclusive interview and images. 

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New Dancers! – The Joffrey Ballet Introduces Four Gifted Performers


Joseì Pablo Castro Cuevas and Jonathan Dole. Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

This week, The Joffrey Ballet welcomed dancers from Mexico, California and Japan into the Chicago family. Joseì Pablo Castro Cuevas, Jonathan Dole, Hyuma Kiyosawa and Miu Tanaka all plan to grace the stage this season and wow us with their phenomenal dancing.

According to a recent press release from The Silverman Group, Ashley Wheater (The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet) made the grand announcement. ” With these new company members, The Joffrey Ballet totals 45 dancers representing 13 countries… Cuevas, Dole and Tanaka are prime examples of the Joffrey’s dedication to fostering the talents from within its own Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, which celebrates its 10th anniversary year in October,” the press release stated.

Hyuma Kiyosawa and Miu Tanaka. Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

Growing up, Kiyosawa received extensive training at a variety of schools. Aoki Chieko Ballet School, MOMOKO Ballet Studio, Kiev State Ballet School, Kirov Academy of Ballet and City Ballet School are some of the places the talented young man has trained.

Director Wheater made the following statement about the new performers: “Our Academy is a reflection of our Company with training that generates technically strong, artistically creative and well-versed students. It is exciting that the talents cultivated within the Joffrey Academy are increasingly making their way to our mainstage productions. I’m pleased to welcome all four new dancers to the Joffrey as we begin our 2019-2020 season.”


Click Here to read the official press release and learn more about each individual dancer.

BTSCelebs sends a special thanks to The Silverman Group for the info and images. 

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A Disney Star Celebrates a Milestone

Drew Seeley tweets: “On Tuesday, I became a naturalized American citizen!!! I’m so grateful for all this country has given me and ecstatic to finally be able to vote, serve on a jury, fully participate in our democracy. I’m an alien no more!” God bless the USA!!!”

Welcome to America, Drew

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