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Review: “Winnie The Pooh” on Stage at Tyler Civic Theatre

“Winnie The Pooh” on Stage at Tyler Civic Theatre:

A Family-Fun Classic Production

By John Baggett

“Winnie the Pooh” opens on Thursday, November 16th and runs through Sunday, November 19th. Tickets are available at the tylercivictheatre.com or call the box office at (903)592-0561.

Sometimes it’s really hard to find activities that the entire family can enjoy. Luckily for all of us Tyler Civic Theatre has us covered. Join them as they venture into the Hundred Acre Forest with their special production of “Winnie the Pooh.”

Based on the classic tales by A.A. Milne, the play opens as Christopher Robin (Karter Simmons) is told a bedtime story by his Nanny (Georgi Dumas) about his stuffed bear, Winnie the Pooh (Justin Wayne Purser) and his best friend, Piglet (Gianna Mahfood). The story she tells finds Pooh attempting to get a beehive down from a tree because it is full of honey. This mission causes him to ignore the concerns of Piglet and everyone else in the forest who is nervous about the arrival of Kanga (Dumas), her son Roo (Tres Taylor), her big blue bathtub, and her bottle of “poison.” (Spoiler alert – it’s shampoo.)

The looming threat of Kanga arriving has Rabbit (Carter Oyer), Owl (Eliot Burk), and Eeyore (Joshua Alexander) in an uproar. (Well, as much of an uproar as Eeyore can have.) But, what they don’t know is, outside the potential threat of a bath, Kanga is no threat. She is just looking to settle into a new home with Roo. Roo, however, just wants to find a new playmate, be it Tigger (Steven Divon Young II), or Rabbit’s nephews Huey (Alec Anderson) and Dewey (Levi Kreichbaum).

However, when his attempt to float to the top of the tree to retrieve honey goes awry, Pooh leaves Piglet alone, whom Kanga latches on and takes him off for a bath and a new place to stay as Roo’s new playmate. Now, Pooh must work with the rest of the Hundred Acre Forest to get Piglet back.

“Winnie the Pooh” was written by Kristen Sergel, who also penned stage productions of “Seven Days in May” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” The Civic Theatre production is directed by Robin Root, who previously directed runs of “Our Town” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Root assembled a wonderful crew of young actors to bring these beloved characters to life.

As our lead, Purser embodies the honey and marmalade obsessed gentle bear, making his voice almost exactly match the one we’ve heard in decades worth of animated representations of Pooh. That being said, he makes the character very much his own and is delightfully funny and charming. Mahfood is simply adorable as Piglet, delivering a performance that can’t help but make you smile.

Oyer is delightfully grumpy as Rabbit, getting big laughs and setting up laughs for others in the cast. After spending some time this year working behind the scenes on “Legally Blonde” and “The Disappearance of Maud Crawford,” it’s nice seeing him on the stage again. Alexander almost steals every scene he is in, with wonderful comic timing. How he kept it together on stage and didn’t break into laughter, I’ll never know!

Simmons is great as Christopher Robin, earning some big laughs during his interactions with Pooh and Piglet, and tugs at the heartstrings at the end. Burk is incredible as Owl, displaying a talent beyond his years, ensuring he has a bright future on the stage. In her dual role, Dumas also is a joy to watch, a wonderful young talent that I hope to see in more shows as she continues her journey as an actress. Taylor is also fantastic as Roo, another bright young star in the making, as are the rest of our cast – Young, Anderson, and Kreichbaum, all of whom I hope to continue to act because they are all a delight to watch.

“Winnie the Pooh” is not just a production for children. Yes, it is “children’s theatre,” but as someone that wasn’t always the biggest fan of Pooh and his friends growing up, I was absolutely won over by this production. It is a heartwarming, laugh out loud night at the theatre that will entertain everyone from age 1 to 101. You should absolutely go see it. You will leave with a smile on your face.

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Downtown

It’s Time for Ice Cream: Move Over Summer Heat

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Summer is a wonderful thing. When the weather warms up, people head outdoors. Days are long and hot and it’s perfect conditions for swimming, canoeing, biking, and picnics.

And best of all, a sweaty brow is a great excuse to gather your friends and go out for a drippy cone of ice cream. It’s cold. It’s sweet. It’s creamy. And that burst of fruit-filled, nutty, or chocolate-chunky flavor can be incredibly refreshing when the steamy heat of summer starts to weigh you down.

As far as we’re concerned, ice cream is summer’s most delightful treat. Here are a few of our favorite sweet treats – from ice cream and froyo to shakes and custards.

Grub Burger Bar

Grub Burger Bar (6421 S. Broadway Ave., Tyler, grubburgerbar.com) features some simply wonderful shakes in traditional flavors: strawberry, vanilla bean, and chocolate, plus Nutella, salted caramel, Root Beer float, and a monthly special.

Several hand spun specialities of the house are the “Kitchen Sink,” featuring pretzels, peanut butter, salt, butterscotch sauce, caramel sauce, chocolate chips, coffee grounds, and potato chips (yes, potato chips). It is unique and heavenly and has a wonderful salty-sweet combo with a slight surprise crunch. Another favorite, the Worms & Dirt shake, has a ton of crushed Oreos and gummy worms.

If you are a chocolate lover, these two are for you. The ET Shake is like getting the entire candy aisle all in one glass with Reeses pieces, peanut butter, chocolate, and a peanut butter cookie. The Mint Chocolate Chip will hit the spot too with homemade crushed brownies, Andes mints, and a ton of chocolate.

For adults, Grub Burger Bar offers spiked shakes too. They have Bourbon & Caramel, Boozy Mint Chocolate Chip (vodka, crème de cacao, creme de mènthe, and Andes mints), the Tipsy Worms & Dirt (chocolate vodka, crushed Oreos, and gummy worms), and the ET Drunk Dial (chocolate vodka, Reeses pieces, peanut butter, chocolate, and a peanut butter cookie). Our favorite is the Spiked Dirty Kitchen Sink (chocolate vodka, pretzels, peanut butter, salt, butterscotch sauce, caramel sauce, chocolate chips, coffee grounds, and Grub’s signature topping – potato chips).

Andy’s Frozen Custard

Andy’s Frozen Custard (6106 S. Broadway Ave., Tyler, eatandys.com) has always been fanatical about custard and has served it with pride since March 19, 1986. For more than three decades, only the freshest ingredients have been used for a frozen custard experience you can’t get anywhere else.

The difference? Ice cream is made from milk, cream, or a combination of the two. Andy’s Frozen Custard is made from milk, cream, and egg yolks. Also, while the machine used to make ice cream churns air into it to make it light, frozen custard is produced in a machine that barely incorporates air into it at all, which means it comes out way more dense.

Andy’s Frozen Custard has mastered custard and they offer a lot of creations that will cool you off this hot summer. A few of our favorites are Andy’s Ozark Turtle (custard covered with hot fudge, crème caramel, roasted pecans, and topped with a cherry), The Original Straw-Ana (frozen custard covered with delicious strawberries and sliced bananas – think banana split ala custard), and Butter Pecan Concrete which is Andy’s frozen custard blended with butterscotch and roasted pecans.

For chocolate lovers, you will think you have found heaven with Andy’s Triple Chocolate Concrete (chocolate frozen custard blended with chocolate chip cookie dough and melted chocolate chips).

The Snowmonster Concrete has frozen custard blended with strawberries and melted chocolate chip. And the customer favorite, Andy’s Turtle Split has custard, a whole banana covered with hot fudge, crème caramel, roasted pecans, and topped with a cherry…Andy’s own version of a banana split.

Andy’s has a convenient drive-thru and picnic tables out front that can accommodate a large group.

Mercado’s Cafe & Posado’s Cafe

In the mood for something a little different? How about ice cream in a fried tortilla! Mercado’s (2214 WSW Loop 323, Tyler) and their sister company Posado’s Cafe (2500 E. Fifth St., Tyler) has a unique menu item – the Bunuelo – a large golden-fried tortilla dusted with cinnamon and sugar and filled with big scoops of vanilla ice cream. It is served with your choice of syrup topping, whipped cream, and their specially-made praline pecans. This is a great treat after any meal and certainly a nice way to cool off on a hot summer day.

SweetFrog Frozen Yogurt

SweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt (2467 Crow Rd., Tyler, sweetfrog.com) is new to the fro-yo scene in Tyler but they are certainly not new to creating a great product. They feature a “create your own” bar where you can combo delicious, soft-serve premium frozen yogurt and a ton of toppings. The combinations are endless! You can create everything from a light snack, a decadent dessert, and everything in between. You pick the flavors, then add the toppings, and you can make it any way you want!

From SweetFrog’s lovable mascots, Scoop and Cookie, to the meaning of the store’s name of F.R.O.G. in SweetFrog which stands for ‘Fully Rely On God,’ SweetFrog is a great place to quench your fro-yo cravings.

Pokey O’s Tyler

Pokey O’s Tyler (facebook.com/pokeyostyler) What exactly is a Pokey O’s? Well, it is a made-to-order ice cream sandwich individually customized for you from the Pokey O’s dessert food truck. You can create any combo you can dream up – customizing the yummy fresh cookies and Blue Bell® ice cream – into a Pokey O’s!

A favorite is the not highly creative but totally heavenly combo of chocolate chip cookies and chocolate ice cream – a chocolate lover’s dream! 

The menu changes daily but standards are chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, fudge nut brownie, white chocolate, macadamia nut, sugar cookie, cappuccino chocolate chip, maple pecan, and more.

Blue Bell® Ice cream flavors include traditional vanilla, chocolate, mint chocolate, sea salt and caramel, cookies ‘n cream, coffee, cake batter, rocky road, pecan pralines and cream, mocha almond, cotton candy, peachy peach and peppermint.

The Porch @ ETX Brewing Co.

The Porch @ ETX Brewing Co. (221 S. Broadway Ave., Tyler, etxbrew.com) serves Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream, a Mom & Pop shop in Plano, Texas. You can get a cone or get it on top of their handmade Bread Pudding. The Porch offers a new creative kind of bread pudding every week. Recently, The Porch has had Grilled Peach with Cinnamon Stout Sauce topped with pecans and Henry’s Cinnamon Ice Cream! They always have four different flavors of ice cream and keep them rotating.

Twisted Root Burger Co.

Twisted Root Burger Co. (4601 S. Broadway Ave., Tyler, twistedrootburgerco.com) is known for their burgers but did you know they specialize in shakes too? They have a great selection (some with alcohol) like the Fat Elvis (custard with peanut butter with bacon on top), Banana Pudding & Vanilla Wafer, Banana & Baileys, Creme De Menthe & Chocolate Chips. Our favorite is the Banana Foster which comes with custard mixed with bananas, caramel and sliced almonds, topped with whip cream and more caramel. It is truly drool-worthy!

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Bands

July 27th: SFO, A Journey Tribute Band at Bergfeld Park

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The City of Tyler will host the annual Bergfeld Summer Showcase at Bergfeld Park, located at 1510 S. College Ave., on Friday, July 27. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. with fun and food trucks and live music beginning at 7 p.m.

This year, SFO – A Journey Tribute, a Nashville native band will take the stage. SFO recreates the experience of a 1980’s concert, playing all the Journey hits that you know and love with a special salute to Kansas and Foreigner. The band is made up of top-notch musicians from Nashville, Florida, and Minnesota who bring the highest level of musicianship to the audience.

Frontman Gabe Jacobs delivers powerful vocals to his audience by closely emulating the vocals and stage presence of legendary Steve Perry.

“This band will transport you back to the 80’s with all the songs you know by heart!” said Adriana Rodriguez, event coordinator.

The local favorite food trucks will be present for quality dining including Say Cheese, Weinerland, Lupita’s, Kona Ice and Pokey O’s.

For more information, contact Adriana Rodriguez at (903) 595-7248 or at ARodriguez@TylerTexas.com.

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Bars

New Cocktails inline for “A Toast to CORE” at Razzoo’s this Summer!

Razzoo’s Cajun Café Partners To Support Restaurant Families

For over 25 years, guests have flocked to Razzoo’s Cajun Café expecting exceptional Cajun food in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. However, many may not know that Razzoo’s has a fantastic array of craft cocktails featuring fine spirits and fresh fruits and juices. On June 11th, Razzoo’s launched two new specialty cocktails in a promotion titled “A Toast to CORE.”

For every sale of these new drinks, Razzoo’s will donate $1 to “CORE, Children of Restaurant Employees.” Tito’s Handmade Vodka will match that donation, up to $5,000.

The tasty new cocktails include: Tito’s Peach Thyme Smash (Tito’s vodka, Fresh Peaches, Sweet & Sour and Thyme), and Tito’s Twizted Strawberry (Tito’s vodka, Fresh Strawberries, Lemons, a splash of Sprite with a Twizzler straw).

CORE grants support to children of food and beverage service navigating life-altering circumstances. In times of extreme strain brought on by family death, injury or diagnosed medical condition, loss of home, or other sudden or extreme circumstances, food and beverage families can become overwhelmed financially and emotionally. CORE is the nationally recognized community of support for all food and beverage service families in need by ensuring they feel cared for and valued. Since 2004, CORE has raised more than $3 million and granted support to more than 350 families from across the industry and the country. Contributions from our COREporate Members and individual donors allows CORE to provide grants that keep our families safe, healthy, and happy.

“A Toast to CORE” will be celebrated through August 30th at all twenty Razzoo’s Cajun Café locations in Texas and North Carolina.

“At Razzoo’s we try not to take ourselves too seriously. What we do take seriously is our food and our service. To us, nothing is more fun than treating our guests to great food and a great time in one of our restaurants. That’s why we’re here. Our food is authentic, it’s made from scratch every day in each restaurant and it’s darn good. Some of it sounds a little weird, like Rat Toes (really, they aren’t) or the Grilled Gator Tail (really, it is). Some of it is hard to pronounce, like the Shrimp Piquant or Chicken Tchoupitoulas – feel free to point when you order (that happens a lot). We’ve been at this for over 26 years and we’ve made a lot of friends along the way. We’d like to think that didn’t happen by accident. So check out our menu, find the nearest location and hop in the car. We’ll be at the door when you get here.”

Razzo’s is located at 7011 S. Broadway in Tyler, 903)534-2922, razzoos.com/tyler. They feature live music every Thursday evening starting at 6pm. July and August line up is:

  • July 5th: Chris Colston Acoustic
  • July 12th: The Haggertys
  • July 19th: Blue Louie Acoustic
  • July 26th: The Mansion Family
  • August 2nd: The Leftovers
  • August 9th: Riley Redding
  • August 16th: Tyler Dudley
  • August 23rd: Ally Venable
  • August 30th: Al and the Longshots

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