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Never Forget: 9-11-2001

11 Sep

twin towers

 “The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic, and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom.” –Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York City

God Bless America.

#Sept11 #NeverForget #WTC #FDNY #Wherewereyou, #911whereiwas, #NYC, #godblessamerica


Backstage: The Three Musketeers #HVSF

23 Aug

By Christabelle… @CBellesCloset (*Pure Editorial, Non-Paid Post*)

If you read my last post, you are well aware how much I enjoyed the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s production of *The Three Musketeers

Lucky me – the fun didn’t end at curtain call. I got a chance to sneak behind the scenes and get some quality time backstage with three of the show’s top stars.  All I can say is this…though they are all superior in their field of work, these three thespians are also amongst the most humble, intelligent, kind and generous people I have come across in quite some time.

What a tough job I have – it is complete torture to conduct these interviews…  #lovethem

EH HeadshotEleanor Handley: I am not sure which of her characters is more wicked. My money goes on King Lear‘s Regan in the duel against Milady of The Three Musketeers. Regan eye gouges with zero remorse.

CM Headshot2 circleChiara MotleyShe takes the stage with regal elegance and grace as Queen Anne in The Three Musketeers and leads an aggressive and jealous life as Goneril in King Lear. The two might seem quite opposite in character, but share a strong bond in their adulterous shenanigans.

MB HEadshotMichael Borrelli: With the most extreme polar opposite roles of the three, he flawlessly toggles between the hilariously flamboyant and self-centered King Louis in The Three Musketeers and the brooding and savagely brutal Duke of Cornwall in King Lear.

While I sneak into the wardrobe room and try on EVERYTHING Costume Designer Charlotte Palmer-Lane created …you can read on and get to know the off-stage characters they play best. Allow me to introduce you to Eleanor, Chiara and Michael.

IMG_1917How many shows/season have you been with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival?
 6 shows over 3 Summer Seasons. Also,  4 Christmas Carols and 1 education tour.
CM: 2 shows and it’s my first season!
MB: I’ve done 11 seasons with HVSF – 22 shows in total.

What is your favorite line from The Three Musketeers?
EH: “Life is different than we ever expected, but most of all life is an adventure!”
CM: “Does anybody have an EpiPen®?” (MB made it up as the King).
MB: “It’s not just a game you know it’s it’s it’s complicated…”

What is the funniest “non-scripted” moment from The Three Musketeers (while performing to a live audience)?

EH: I think the King’s cartwheel is hard to beat.
CM: When Mike (Borrelli) and I kiss and he sexually rungs my elbow skin. Gross but funny.
MB: When Ryan (Quinn) does the Thriller dance before he dies.


What words of advice you would offer your character over a cup of coffee?
 Have you thought about anger management classes?
CM: You are falling in love with GAY MEN!
MB: I would tell Louis he needs to pay less attention to himself and more attention to his lovers. And to get a haircut…

What was the most challenging aspect preparing for your role?
EH:  Definitely the fighting. I think I’m in four major fights, and that’s not counting the strangling and throat slitting and head banging and poisoning…. it’s a lot.
CM: Not too much. But being the straight man is hard work believe it or not.
IMG_2376MB: Learning to walk in those shoes and then doing a cartwheel in them.

Where are you headed when HVSF ends? How can I stalk you??
I’ll be playing the role of ‘Beth’ in Jericho at 59E59. It’s a wonderful play by Jack Canfora receiving it’s NYC off-Broadway premiere.
CM: I am going to South Carolina to do a production of Sherlock Holmes.  My website is
MB: You can find all upcomiong projects on my website

NOTE FROM CC: My favorite line in The Three Musketeers??
“Balls, balls…I LOVE BALLS!”
(Borrelli as King Louis XIII, joyously exclaiming at the concept of throwing a party for his birthday)

My 3M cast wish list:
:  Please ship your entire wardrobe to my UWS office.
CM: Split shipping with EH & include all of your jewels.
MB: Kindly record that line for me…so I can use it, with great enjoyment, as my iPhone ring-tone

3m collage

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s productions of The Three Musketeers, King Lear and All’s Well that Ends Well are playing in repertory at Boscobel Gardens in Garrison, NY through September 1, 2013. CLICK TO PURCHASE TICKETS. 
Box Office: 845 – 265-​​9575

Don’t miss out on your HVSF experience – get your tickets now and enjoy all that the 2013 season has to offer.

*The Three Musketeers by Ken Ludwig (adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas)

sign off with lips

REVIEW: With all Duel Respect…The Three Musketeers #HVSF

21 Aug

By Christabelle… @CBellesCloset (*Pure Editorial, Non-Paid Post*)

6309_10151523646473893_1076358593_nThere is something to be said about finding down time and remembering how to breathe. Taking a moment to turn off your cell phone and turn on a good classic instead. On this particular day, I sojourned to Garrison, NY – a surprisingly short and majestic train ride away from the city – to do just that. My final destination…The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival to enjoy a sold-out performance of The Three Musketeers.

In her 27th year, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival has continually produced top-notch performances – season after season. Hailed as an industry theater leader, she is known for her integrity as the region’s only professional resident Shakespeare Company. And with the grounds of the 19th century Boscobel estate hosting her summer address, there is no room for disappointment.


Photo credit: Will Marsh
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival

The trip up the Hudson yielded the most divine weather and with over an hour to spare before show time, I intended to soak up this grandiose vista – down to the last second. With iPhone shut down and Salinger in hand, I perched myself upon a bench with every intention to read; Boscobel had other plans for me. A sweeping glance of these glorious grounds, it was as if I had stepped into a mystical portal of space-time continuum. Kubrick-style garden labyrinths lead to a house best described as plucked directly from the plantation Tara. A lush, rich emerald landscape painted the horizon – so exquisite in its perfection, it appeared man-made on the lot of Universal Studios. And as visual stimulation went into over-drive, behind me stood the regal white arena – where HVSF magic is bestowed upon patrons night after night.

The sun began to set on the meringue whipped peaks of the structure… producing patches of haze which hung in the open-aired tent. Had I just stepped into my version of Brigadoon? If I dared enter, would we fade into the backdrop only to return in 100 years? I opted to let HVSF decide my fate and made my way to my front row seat – bracing myself for what I had heard was a show like no other.

3M Group

The Three Musketeers
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
L-R Walsh, Handley, Johnson, Narbonne, Borrelli, Quinn, Nunn, Janas, Motley, Murphy
Photo credit: Will Marsh

It began shirtless and sweaty – with swords in hand. The play opens with a duel between the ever optimistic, chivalrous and generous D’Artagnan (Taylor Walsh) and his father (Ryan Quinn), which we soon discover is fight club training – 17th Century style. Sparking swords and witty rhetoric are quickly married in a surprising contemporary bend to the classic novel written by Alexandre Dumas. Unbeknownst to me at top of show, this rendition of The Three Musketeers is a modern interpretation written by Ken Ludwig (sprinkled with comedic confectioneries of the improvisational kind). I don’t recall King Louis XIII requesting an EpiPen®, as we poured over the pages of this novel in AP English. And I certainly do not recall a flash-mob-Prince-dance-a-thon taking place within the written words of 1625.

However, on this night, all of these modern threads, weaved themselves seamlessly within the original story written over a century ago; gifting the audience one of the most intoxicating depictions of this classic ever to hit the stage. Kudos to Director Christopher V. Edwards and Artistic Director Terrence O’Brien for bringing this cast of theatrical stars to new heights of excellence.

The cast, made up in good part of HVSF alumni, moves in tailored sync with one another. Fight scenes were impeccably and painstakingly directed by Brad Lemons. Performed in 500 square foot space, I was left in awe and amazement that there was no accidental decapitation of the lifestyle blogger sitting flush with the stage.


King Louis XIII (Michael Borrelli)
The Three Musketeers
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
Photo Credit: Will Marsh, HVSF

My apologies are graciously extended to Mr. Michael Borrelli (King Louis XIII), as my incessant chort-snort-weeping laughter had to have been a distraction (even to a veteran actor such as he). Costumed in a golden brocade knickers ensemble (with matching bonnet tied under chin and 6 inch platform shoes), his wardrobe seemed undeniably the center of attention as he sashayed on-stage. But his costume was upstaged and over thrown immediately by his impeccably delivered lines, wild gesticulations and even his occasional wedgie-removal-rump-shake. Rumored bi-sexual, born with an extreme congenital speech impediment and often depicted as bumbling and a bit briny – Michael Borrelli’s portrayal of King Louis XIII not only gives these points of conviction carte blanche, but induces side-splitting howls from the audience as he embraces and coddles them. This makes for a character you bond with and become quite fond of almost instantaneously, which in turn makes you loathe Cardinal Richelieu (Stephen Paul Johnson) and his sidekick Rochefort (Mark Couchot) more and more with each passing moment. You wait with bated breath to hear what falls in perfect time from Borrelli’s tongue and in some cases laugh in anticipation of what over-the-top antic he is about to present. A new threshold of comedy was born this summer within the very talented hands of Michael Borrelli. You had me at “J-Yoke”.

Having dabbled in acting from a very early age, I know how difficult it is to master one character in a production. Two is a challenge that takes super-hero focus. Six is just insanity and grounds for schizophrenia at this juncture of the show’s run. Ryan Quinn pulls it off like child’s play. Within one 2-hour performance, Mr. Quinn enchants audiences as D’Artagnan’ s father, Treville, Ravanche, DeBris, the Duke of Buckingham and crowd-pleaser the Innkeeper. With his over-the-top, slapstick, never-ending death scene which includes the Innkeeper (Quinn) vomiting on an audience member’s lap, busting out Thriller dance moves, and quoting The Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, Frankenstein and my favorite from Ghostbusters, “I am the key master” all before his final expiration from ingesting poisonous wine. Quinn earns the award for most versatile actor in one performance.

Chiara Motley’s Queen Anne was well played, dignified and stunning in appearance (costume designer Charlotte Palmer-Lane nailed her royal attire) but it was her portrayal of the French Abbess that had me sold. Drunken and perhaps a few sandwiches short of a picnic, Motley ingeniously constructed a lovable (albeit sloshed) servant of God; adding just the right amount of humor and humility to soften the ground for the premature death of Constance Bonacieux (Lily Narabonne).

Sabine (Ludwig’s character add-on, played by Angela Janas) was a breath of fresh air on the fight sodden stage. Her bright eyes, warm open smile and innocent demeanor were like fresh mint atop a theatrical Mojito. I was pleased in the end to see her defend not only the honor of those around her, but of her own. This was a lovely showcase of heroin-ism and the perfect idol for the young girls in the audience to cast their own dreams upon.


The Three Musketeers
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
L-R Walsh, Murphy, Nunn, Shelley
Photo Credit: Will Marsh, HVSF

The Three Musketeers, Porthos (Charlie Francis Murphy), Aramis (Kyle Nunn) and Athos (Daniel Morgan Shelley) played the title characters flawlessly. Shelley’s dark and emotionally empty Athos, sets the tone for the unveiling of his wounded heart and gutted soul. Nunn keeps time and balance with the religious under-toned gigolo ways of Aramis. Murphy’s Porthos has stature and presence – the most outspoken of the trio; he delights audiences – most specifically the younger patrons – with his in-character crowd interactions.

And lastly…there was Handley.

If you follow my blog, you know that last year at this time, I had the honor of watching Ms. Eleanor Handley own the stage as Maggie, in Tennessee Williams Cat of a Hot Tin Roof (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, opposite Tom Degnan). I cringed in my seat as I watched her callously torture and berate her drunken husband, Brick. At the time, I thought Handley had mastered the art of deplorable behavior and insensitivity to human existence, as she defiantly tossed Brick’s crutch across the stage making him stumble after it on broken leg. I was wrong. I was so very wrong.

Maggie, I would like for you to meet Milady. Or perhaps not…she might slit your throat for looking so damn good in that slinky red dress.

As someone who runs in the same social circles as Eleanor Handley, I now know this Australian-born actress both on and off the stage. I hope what I am about to offer her, is taken as the largest compliment and testament to her craft. For a moment longer than I should – I questioned my personal relationship with her. For a moment longer than I should – I questioned the sincerity of her “off stage” kind disposition and in those moments wondered if I, like Constance, had been duped by Milady Handley .


Milady (Eleanor Handley)
The Three Musketeers
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival

Her wicked is that bel-evil-able. Handley’s portrayal of Milady’s ruthless, heartless and frigid demeanor would make even a Real Housewife of New Jersey shake in her Louboutins. I caught myself looking over my shoulder on more than one occasion, wondering if I, like so many unfortunate characters in the play, would reach early demise via her sharp tongue and switchblade hand. Handley writhes in and out of scenes in serpent-like manner – ready to cast her venomous fangs on anyone who gets in her way and a few who just happened upon her path like Mother Superior (India Gurley).

I cheered when Handley’s Milady died. And I don’t feel bad about it.

Garrison’s Boscobel Gardens houses the most exquisite group of talent representing Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival proudly. The performances that turn over from this company are as addictive as potato chips. You truly cannot stop at just one. Fortunately, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s summer 2013 line-up is fat free and charged with such intense flavor and mouthwatering delights, you can continue to indulge as much as you want (or at least through September 1, 2013).

Don’t miss out on your HVSF experience – get your tickets now and enjoy all that the 2013 season has to offer.

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s productions of The Three Musketeers, King Lear and All’s Well that Ends Well are playing in repertory at Boscobel Gardens in Garrison, NY through September 1, 2013. CLICK TO PURCHASE TICKETS.
Box Office: 845 – 265-​​9575

Photo credits: Will Marsh, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival

The Three Musketeers by Ken Ludwig (adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas)
Directed by Christopher V. Edwards
Artistic Director – Terrence O’Brien
Executive Director – Maggie Whitlum
Fight Director – Brad Lemons
Costume Designer – Charlotte Palmer-Lane
Lighting Design – David Upton
Sound Design – William Neal
Props Design – Sue Rees
Choreography – Lisa Rinehart
Stage Manager – Corey Croughn


sign off with lipsFTC GUIDELINES BLURB 2013

With a Heavy Heart…

16 Apr


I put my head to pillow last night and like the rest of the world, grieved for Boston.

I, like all of you, shed tears for our brothers and sisters hit hard by the tragic occurrences on Marathon Monday (Patriots’ Day).

I, as a New Yorker caught in the madness of 9/11 so many years ago, did indeed take a step back in time to 2001, as the visuals tore across the television screen, like an all too familiar movie. And, I grieved a bit more.

I, like many of you, prayed hard for an answer to why…and when I didn’t get an answer, I silently thanked you all for being a part of my life. You can never tell the people you love, that you love them too much.  The “I love you more…” game I played with my parents as a child seemed silly then. Now it just seems like a good way to live the rest of my life.

Friends, I say to all of you “…me more”.

I woke hoping perhaps it was a dream. When reality set in that indeed life changed again forever, in a blink , I opened an email from my dear friend Michael.

Beneficiary: Carrie Everdyke

Life changed one more time, in a blink.  With water filled eyes  and a heavy heart, I read of the news of Carrie Everdyke (who many of you know as the right-hand women to Asa Hoffman). Diagnosed with cancer in December of 2012, it was with great sadness that I discovered in four short months, her body is no longer able to fight the disease.  Carrie is in her final days here with us and we will be losing yet another beautiful soul.

I, like all of you, read the above and say, what can I do?

First and foremost – love big, love hard and love often. Hold tight to those that mean the world to you – be kind and generous to everyone, always.
Take a moment to tell someone exactly what they mean to you.
Hold the door for someone in the deli.
Wave at your neighbor when you leave your house today.
Say hello to your postman.
Smile at a stranger walking by you.
We clearly have little control as to what goes on in the world or even within our own flesh, but we DO have control of our own actions. So do good with them.

My high school driver’s ed teacher always preached –  “Driving is a privilege…”.  I feel the same about life.  So, make something of it.

Second – send support. If you have means to donate money, I have included links below to help Boston victims, as well as Carrie Everdyke and her family.

More importantly, donating yourself is free. Take a moment to say a prayer. Tweet a message. Light a candle. Jot a blog post. We are all made up of energy – love and support do make a difference.

And finally, words of advice for us all (present company included).  At the end of the day, no one will remember what shoes you were wearing, what exclusive resort you vacationed or whether you drove a Ferrari or a Ford.  I have yet to hear a eulogy listing all of the “it” restaurants someone dined at – or – the amount of twitter followers they had.

Live your eulogy now and be the person you want people to remember you for being – not the person you think people want you to be.

In the fine words of Batman via the Dork Knight’s Jason O’Connell, “”It’s not who I am underneath, but what I DO that defines me.”


Donate to the Boston Children’s Hospital – they are still caring for two critically injured children:
Donate to the Salvation Army:
Donate to the American Red Cross:

If you were in or around the marathon yesterday, be sure to register at the Red Cross Safe and Well list, so loved ones know you are ok:

Target Announces Partnership with FEED…10 Million Meals to the USA

11 Mar christina carathanassis

By Christabelle… @CBellesCloset

I have been a big fan of Target for a long time, but this morning I found out one more reason to love and adore the bulls-eye!  Today, Target® Corp. (NYSE: TGT)  announced a partnership with FEED Projects, a social business founded by Lauren Bush Lauren, to create the FEED USA + Target collection. The limited-time-only collection will include more than 50 stylish products and benefit Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. The products will be available beginning June 30 at Target stores and on Limited edition product will display number of meals donated from purchase (so you know just how your purchase has helped feed someone else!)

               “As the founder of FEED, I am passionate about the fight against hunger and am thrilled to partner with Target to create our first ever co-branded lifestyle collection,” said Lauren Bush Lauren. “Through product sales, we hope to provide 10 million meals to Americans in need, which would make it the largest U.S. initiative in FEED’s history. I am proud that we will be able to empower guests to make a measurable impact through the purchase of the FEED USA + Target collection.”

Featuring an Americana aesthetic, the collection includes products spanning home, sporting goods, stationery, and apparel and accessories, with prices ranging from $3.00 to $400.00. Each product displays the number of meals that will be donated to children and families through Feeding America as a result of the purchase. The collection, with its modern, casual and hand-crafted feel, was co-designed by Lauren Bush Lauren.

                “Establishing meaningful partnerships is part of Target’s brand legacy, from innovative design collaborations to long-term community programs,” said Stacia Andersen, senior vice president, merchandising, Target. “Through our partnership with FEED, we are offering our guests an exclusive, stylish collection that also supports an important cause.”

                FEED began in 2006 when Lauren Bush Lauren designed a bag to benefit the United Nations World Food Programme’s School Feeding program. Followed by that success, Lauren founded FEED Projects LLC in 2007 with the mission to create good products that help feed the world. Best known for its iconic burlap bags, FEED’s projects to date have raised enough funds to provide nearly 60 million school meals to children around the world.

10 million meals.  That’s how much food Target is hoping to donate to hungry Americans with its latest designer partnership. This time around the retailer is forgoing a collaboration with a high-end fashion guru to work with FEED Projects, the company started by former model Lauren Bush Lauren that sells simplistic burlap bags. The proceeds help feed children through the United Nations World Food Program.

With FEED, Target is going the more minimalist, feel-good route with a collection launching June 30 that includes tote bags, kitchenware and blankets. Proceeds will benefit Feeding America, a non-profit with more than 200 food banks across the country.

“People are time starved and they’re looking for easy solutions and they certainly want to make a difference,” says Laysha Ward, Target’s president of community relations.

According to 2011 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 50 million Americans are considered food insecure, meaning they do not have enough money for sufficient food. – USA Today

About Target

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) serves guests at 1,787 stores – 1,784 in the United States and three in Canada – and at Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its profit through community grants and programs; today, that giving equals more than $4 million a week. For more information about Target’s commitment to corporate responsibility, visit

About FEED

After witnessing the effects of hunger firsthand when traveling as a WFP Honorary Spokesperson, Lauren Bush Lauren founded FEED Projects in 2007 with the mission of creating good products that help FEED the world. Every product sold has a measurable donation attached to it and, over the past six years, FEED has been able to donate over $6 million and provide nearly 60 million school meals globally. FEED has also supported nutrition programs around the world and in the US through organizations like UNICEF and  FEED products are available online and at retail locations around the world. For more information, please visit

About Feeding America

Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, our nationwide network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks support 61,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms. For more information on how you can fight hunger in your community and across the country, visit

christina carathanassis

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