Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.


Five Things You Must Do While In Jamaica


Jamaica is one of the most wonderfully diverse holiday destinations on the entire planet. It offers a unique mix of nature; if you are looking for a place to go on your next holiday, look no further than a Jamaica vacation because it has everything that you need for your next holiday. Think of great beaches, amazing food, relaxed people and nature to go with it. Here are some things that you can’t miss while in Jamaica.

Dunn’s River Falls

Located just outside Ocho Rios, these amazing falls run along the river in a spectacular fashion. Each fall is stepped like a staircase and you can actually climb them as the flowing water is not too strong. It still pays to be careful here, because there are some slippery rocks and you could lose your footing. This is where a guide can come in handy, as they have done this a thousand times and know exactly what to do. This is not only a stunning sight, but also very interesting because there is nothing like these falls. Naturally, this brings a lot of tourists along with it but something like this should not be missed if you are in Jamaica.

Enjoy seven miles of beach

What would you call a beach that is seven miles long? Seven Mile Beach, of course, and this is without a doubt one of the best on the entire island. It has all the classic elements of a great beach, such as the white sands and the clear turquoise waters that you often see in pictures! Of course, the fact that it is seven miles long also means that you should be able to find a nice spot for yourself.  Sunrise and sunset are definitely things that you need to experience somewhere along Seven Mile Beach and no words in a blog post can accurate describe it. There are endless restaurants and people selling snacks and drinks and best of all live Reggae! Mix all of this with a nice cocktail and you have all the ingredients for a great time here.

Swim with the dolphins

This is one thing that many people aspire to do at least once in their lives and Dolphin Cove is the perfect place to see dolphins up close and swim with these intelligent creatures. The cove itself is not too far from Ocho Rios and you can learn so much about the dolphins as well as the other types of wildlife here, too. You are also able to see Caribbean reef sharks, stingrays and much more. Of course, if you don’t feel like swimming there are always the beaches and the rainforests to relax in, too!

Go for a hike in the Blue Mountains

Jamaica definitely has more to it than just beaches and great food. It also offers extremely beautiful nature and the Blue Mountains are just one great example of this. The Blue Mountains loom over the island and can be seen for many miles around, especially because they rise about 2200 meters above sea level on the eastern part of the island. Heading to the Blue Mountain Peak is a great experience and a little tough physically, but well worth the effort. When you reach the top you will be presented with amazing views of the ocean, Kingston and the lush greenery.

Visit the home of Bob Marley

There is no question about it, Bob Marley is the undisputed king of reggae and his legacy on the reggae scene will live forever. He is an absolute legend and going to visit his home is the ultimate pilgrimage when in Jamaica. Marley was born and raised in the small village of Nine Mile, far from the reaches of the Jamaican capital, Kingston. Here you can learn a bit more about Marley’s life and how he came to be a musician, as well as touring his home where he lived up until his death. Naturally all the tours are conducted by Rastafarian people, which is definitely a nice touch, too.

Go rafting

Rio Grande is the perfect place to head out and get a taste of adventure with some rafting, which is a little bit of a contrast to Jamaica’s relaxed atmosphere. It just goes to show you that there really is something for everyone here. The interesting bamboo rafts are a great way to see the plantations, gorges and stones that line the river. It is a beautiful experience and always very peaceful.

Doctor’s Cave Beach

This beautiful beach is located on Montego Bay and it gets its name from an old legend that the waters of the beach had magical healing powers. Whether or not this was ever true is still debated, however there is no doubt that this is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. The waters are a stunning turquoise color the beach is ideal for swimming or relaxing. A number of restaurants are very close by, making it is a great place to spend the day, eat the local cuisine and then head back to the beach. What could be better than that? The beach also forms part of the Montego Bay Marine Park and is the perfect place for snorkelers to see the coral reefs and the marine wildlife that lives there.

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Not My Baby Shines a Light on Adoption


In a perfect world, Jason A. Ellis, the founder and current Executive Director of Momentum Collective, Inc., would take the production of Not My Baby to other countries. “If I had money, I [would] take it overseas,” said Ellis. For now, however, he is putting his energy towards promoting the show in Alexandria. The show opened on March 17 and continues this weekend at the Richard Kauffman Auditorium.

Utilizing Hip Hop and R&B, this original musical set in the D.C. metro area, deals with social issues, including adoption. “I want to shine a light on topics that aren’t talked about and encourage discourse,” said Ellis. “I’m from Jamaica and I like to bring in references to my country – for example, I referred to ‘20 Jacky Pad’ in the show. This was my address in Kingstown.”

The multi-talented Ellis not only performs in the musical, he wrote the musical’s book as well as 10 original songs. The storyline and the music takes the audience through a whirlwind of emotions. Even limited by using temporary space and an imperfect sound system, Not My Baby soars, with strong voices and a team of very talented dancers.


Tamieka Jones (Wednesday), Nyeta Videl (June), Mary Ayala-Bush (Ruby), Jason Ellis (LaDarius, writer, director, etc)

Ellis has established himself as a recognized playwright, having written, directed, choreographed, and produced several original musicals. He has also performed in several productions at his Alfred Street Baptist Church, as well as with theater companies in the DMV area, in productions such as Hoodoo Love, A Soldier’s Play, Seven Guitars, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Company, Disney Dazzle, Dreamgirls, and Radio Golf.


Theodore Sapp (Patrick), Terry Spann (Pastor Joe), Alani Mason-Calloway (Yvonne)

Since 2009, Ellis has been employed with the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) in the Residents and Community Services Department. His work with ARHA has provided him a tremendous platform to interface with a cross-section of youth in Alexandria and build strong partnerships with a host of community stakeholders, particularly those focused on serving youth.


Terrance McLeod, Darnell Eaton (Emmanuel), Virginia Raye (TaSchica)

In 2010 he created, and still is managing, a leadership development program for low income youth in the city of Alexandria. This program has seen 100 percent of its participants graduate high school and over 80 percent of participants furthering their education at a tertiary institution or gain meaningful employment. This leadership program served as the catalyst for the creation of MC Inc., now with the inclusion of performing arts and technology-based skills development.


Mia Amado (Dominique), Jamir Miller (Craig), Eboni Jones, Celena Noel, Summer Mayes, Janiya Hooks, Kasey Murphy (Anika)

In Not My Baby, Ellis utilizes a talented complement of local actors and performers. “Half the cast is from Alfred Street Baptist Church,” said Ellis. “I don’t do a lot of open casting because I want to make sure we are family and get along. I tell the cast – ‘each one reach one’ -so the rest of the cast are referrals. Everybody in the show fits the character.”

Nyeta Videl, an Alexandria native, plays June in Not My Baby. Because June was so dysfunctional, playing her was difficult, Videl said. “But I did not look at June in a negative way,” she said. “Don’t judge June, but love her story.” Video has been a regular in Ellis’ plays, portraying the fun and quirky Esther in his 2016 production of U-Street. She is also known for her roles as Bernadette in Ellis’ 2015 production of Senior Moments, Hattie Mae Bemry in Angels and Winnie Mandela in The Nelson Mandela Tribute.

Terry Spann (Pastor Joe) said that he was thrilled to be a part of another Jason Ellis production and working with this fantastic cast and crew. “My father was a preacher but I didn’t have any interest in becoming one,” said Spann.

Not My Baby is at the Richard Kauffman Auditorium, 1108 Jefferson Street, Alexandria, VA. on Friday, March 24 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 25 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Photos by Gale Curcio
Top: Members of the dance team

Jeff Harnar sings The 1959 Broadway Songbook – Stellar!


On the 25th Anniversary of this show’s original opening, (the vocalist’s debut at the fabled Oak Room of The Algonquin Hotel), and the 1st Anniversary of Stephen Hanks’ monthly series New York Cabaret’s Greatest Hits, Jeff Harnar and Alex Rybeck thrilled a club (The Metropolitan Room) so full of enthusiastic audience we practically sat on one another’s laps.


Worthy of The Hollywood Bowl or London Palladium (are you listening New Jersey Performing Arts Center?), this exceptional evening manages to embrace 21 Broadway musicals that opened in or were still running during its memorable 1959 season. The piece, performed with gusto, clarity, and taste, is cleverly framed as a show unto itself (top ticket price $9.20) with narrative arc illuminated by some of the best constructed medleys I’ve ever heard. Occasional duets add sparkle. (MD/pianist/Alex Rybeck.)

Bookended by a splendid arrangement of “Tonight” (West Side Story) delivered in three musical chapters – light piano cadenza, modulated upswell, Broadway fervor  and a gauzy “Till Tomorrow”(Fiorello) – this adroitly written show also contains opening and second act Overtures and an amusing Entr’acte. The latter skillfully conjectures what people might be talking about in Shubert Alley at the time.

Jeff Harnar doesn’t just look around the room, he looks into our eyes making this an immersive experience. The performer is expressive and charming. Lightness of carriage and infectious love of the material makes us feel as if we’re at a stylish, showbiz party. Harnar is in superb, muscular voice. He musically turns on a dime and delivers appreciable script without dropping a stitch. There are songs performed with theatrical accents and others he inhabits with seemingly fresh character awareness. Sara Louise Lazarus reprises and conceivably improves upon her expert Direction.


We meet our boy and girl with “A Perfect Evening” (First Impressions.) He says I’ve seen her kind before…uppity laugh… She says, I’ve seen his kind before…head in the clouds, nose in the air… The lyric is party spoken to great effect. “The wonderful thing about first impressions is that they change” prefaces a waltzy “Nine O’Clock” (Take Me Along) followed by a rich, aptly besotted “On the Street Where You Live” (My Fair Lady). “I Don’t Think I’ll End It All Today” (Jamaica) arrives with fair accent, engaging gestures, and dancey demeanor.

The show’s Marriage Medley slyly employs a familiar wedding theme from Company as a red herring, bridging numbers from other musicals. In part: “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” (My Fair Lady) is a wry dirge; Harnar’s reoccurring “Don’t Marry Me” (Flower Drum Song) emerges sophisticated, insouciant; “One Hand, One Heart” (West Side Story) contains a sob which seems new to this artist. Rybeck ably duets. Remember, he can sing. “As the Act I curtain falls, we find our hero contemplating the wisdom of his dreams.” Hands at his sides, ostensibly holding it together, Harnar showcases finesse while Rybeck’s arrangement shimmers light on selected passages.

Act II opens with a Political Medley featuring such as:  “Little Tin Box” (Fiorello) during which Rybeck plays the prosecutor and Harnar the witnesses, several with New Yawk accents. This ends with a jaunty, ersatz soft shoe. And the acerbic hoedown “The Country’s in the Very Best of Hands” (L’il Abner) which sounds disturbingly current.  (Why is no one doing a cabaret show of Broadway political songs?)

We then revisit “our troubled lovers.” “I Say Hello” (Destry Rides Again) brims with entreaty; “Long Before I Knew You” (Bells Are Ringing) is palpably warm, “Look Who’s In Love” (Redhead) lands surprised. Before the coda of this section, we hear Harnar’s Harold Hill tell partner-in-crime Marcellus that he can’t run away even if it means being caught. In love with Marian the Librarian,“… for the first time in my life, I got my foot caught in the door…” (‘Inspired use of a line.). Four bars of “Till There Was You” (The Music Man) adds a cursive flourish. Always a talented balladeer, the vocalist brings sincerity to songs that might be merely sentimental in other’s hands.

the boys

A moving “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” (The Sound of Music) with unexpectedly entrancing piano serves as encore. Harnar is tender, not stressed. The song appears heady in a different, more affecting way. Much of the room tears up. Bravo!

This extraordinary show unfortunately has no future dates.

Photos by Steve Friedman

New York Cabaret’s Greatest Hits presents
Jeff Harnar sings The 1959 Broadway Songbook
First engagement at The Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel 1991
Recorded live on Original Cast Records 1992
Jeff Harnar-Vocals
Alex Rybeck- MD/Piano & Vocals
Sara Louise Lazarus- Director
The Metropolitan Room
34 West 22nd Street
August 13, 2016
Venue Calendar