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Posts for December 2014

Concordia University Performs RECKLESS

Posted by: Terry Winkler
Posted on: Sunday, Dec 28, 2014

RecklessConcordia University kicks off 2015 with the whacky dark comedy Reckless by Craig Lucas. The play chronicles the (mis)adventures of Rachel who, on Christmas Eve, finds out her husband has hired a hit man to kill her!  After a narrow escape, she ends up going through a series of crazy events that finds her on the run and, at various times, living with another family, on a game show, homeless and later appearing on a talk show.  On the way she sees six different therapists and travels all over the United States - leaving a trail of mistakes and crazy coincidences in her wake.

"I love plays that send characters on a great journey." says Tony Vezner, director of the production. "In this case, Rachel is propelled on this nightmarish journey by one crazy event right after another and it's her job to adapt and go with it.   She's a sweet woman who just keeps getting into one madcap adventure after another. It's simply hilarious to see her deal with each new crazy situation."

The play takes the audience, and Rachel, through a whirlwind of different locations - a gas station, a game show set, 6 different therapist's offices, and a V.W. van on the road - so it was scenic designer Mark Klopfenstein's job to take the audience to each new location.  Klopfenstein, who previously worked as a Disney imagineer, has created an amazing set full of turntables, moving furniture wagons and movable panels that take the audience through Rachel's journey at a breakneck pace. When it came time to find a color scheme for the set's overall appearance, he turned to his 3-year-old granddaughter. She began doodling on Mark's computer rendering of the set while she was at his house for a visit.  She played with his iPad and swirled colors all over the picture of the scenery - Mark ended up keeping the idea!

Performances of Reckless will be held in the CUI Theater on January 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 7:30 PM as well as January 11 and 18 at 2:00 PM. Tickets are available here.

Be a Part of the Arts in OC: Casting Call for Summer 2015 Pageant of the Masters

Posted by: Terry Winkler
Posted on: Monday, Dec 22, 2014

Forget all the Christmas hoopla for a moment and consider this:  have you ever wondered what it would be like to step into a famous piece of art? I did it back in 1983 at the 50th anniversary of the Pageant of the Masters and I loved it!

Pageant of the Masters Volunteers

If you can stand still for 90 seconds, you could experience being a part of a living piece of art pagby volunteering for the renowned Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach - "where art comes to life!"  In preparation of the 2015 show, The Pursuit of Happiness, the Pageant is looking for men, women and children to volunteer. People of all sizes and ages are needed to be cast members in the world's most famous presentation of tableaux vivants.
Casting call will be held at the Irvine Bowl Park (650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA) during the following times:

  • Friday, January 9 from 7 - 9pm
  • Saturday, January 10 from 7 - 9pm
  • Sunday, January 11 from 2 - 5pm
Next summer's performances of the Pageant of the Masters will run nightly at 8:30pm from July 8 to August 31, 2015. Please call (949) 494-3663 for additional information.

Casting call is a fun experience for all involved.  Prospective volunteers will be measured and photographed, enjoy refreshments and meet the behind-the-scenes Pageant staff. No theater experience is necessary.  The only requirement is the ability to stand still and have fun.
"Over 500 volunteers, both onstage and behind-the-scenes, are needed to put on the show," said Pageant director Diane Challis Davy. "Everyone has a great time backstage and many return year after year to take part in this one-of-a-kind performance. The Pageant just simply wouldn't be possible without our volunteers!"

Pageant volunteers are also needed for positions in the wardrobe, make up, and headdress departments, as well as cast area coordinators and refreshment servers, among other positions.
Volunteering for the Pageant is a great way to spend your summer and it is common to have several generations of the same family volunteering for different aspects of the show. Additionally, by volunteering for the Pageant, students can earn credit towards community service requirements.

Be a part of the history of the arts in OC.
The 2015 Pageant of the Masters, The Pursuit of Happiness, will be staged July 8 through August 31. Ticket prices range from $15 to $230. Tickets are on sale now by calling 1-800-487-3378 or online at  The Festival of Arts is a non-profit organization that produces The Festival of Arts - California's Premier Fine Art Show and the Pageant of the Masters.  Proceeds support the arts in Orange County.

New and Notable in Irvine for 2015

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Friday, Dec 19, 2014

 New Irvine 2015

The new year is just around the corner and with that comes plenty to get excited about around Irvine. New businesses are opening and entertainment options continue to grow, further diversifying the city's already varied offerings. Here are just a few of the things in Irvine to get excited about in 2015.

  • UC Irvine will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015. The school will feature a variety of events throughout the year under the theme "Bright Past, Brilliant Future". UCI has set up a special website highlighting the history of the school and planning of anniversary events, including the jubilee scheduled for Oct 2-4 which will include a Festival of Discovery.
  • The Hilton Garden Inn Irvine/OC Airport (2381 Morse) is scheduled to open March 15, making it Irvine's 16th hotel property and bringing the city's total room count to 3,870. The hotel will cater to both the business and weekend leisure traveler and plans to offer complimentary shuttle and parking. It will feature 170 guest rooms, 6 suites, a restaurant, bar, and 2,000 square feet of meeting space.
  • Located next to the massive Irvine Spectrum Center, Los Olivos Marketplace, a 120,000-square-foot specialty shopping center is scheduled to open in late 2015. The center will feature casual dining, shops, and the first Whole Foods Market in Irvine.

  • The Segerstrom Center for the Arts has a full calendar of entertainment set for 2015. Highlights include Sleeping Beauty put on by the American Ballet Theatre (March 3-8), Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg (June 5-7), Dirty Dancing (Feb 3-15), Annie (May 13-24), The Phantom of the Opera (August 5-16), Motown the Musical (June 16-28) and Guys and Dolls (April 14-19). For a full calendar of offerings visit the Segerstrom website.

  •  The newest grocery store to join Irvine's diverse ethnic markets is Seafood City, an incredibly popular chain of Filipino grocery stores known for its produce, bakery, and yes, its seafood. Inside the store is Jollibee which is a bit like the Filipino version of Mc Donald's, Red Ribbon Bakery which features beautiful light-weight pastries and flaky empanadas, and Valerios Tropical Bakery, known for its pan del sal.
  • Diamond Jamboree  is Orange County's international restaurant destination featuring over a dozen different ethnic dining options. Recently the center released a Diamond Jamboree gift card which allows guests to purchase one gift card to use at several participating restaurants throughout the center, making it a great gift. Best of all, the card gives users 10% off their bill, adding to its value. 

  • Fulfill your inner Willie Wonka by taking a tour at ChocXO , Irvine's bean to bar chocolate factory at the Irvine Spectrum Center. During the one hour tour you will learn how the chocolate bean is fermented and dried, view the factory, and sample raw cacao pulp. cocoa nibs, cocoa liquor, chocolate bar, filled chocolate, and even chocolate bark. Yum!

  • Burntzilla is planning on opening in the Trader Joes plaza at Walnut and Culver, making it the first brick and mortar store for two of Orange County's favorite food trucks.  Dogzilla is known for its menu of wildly tasty gourmet hot dogs while The Burnt Truck's focus is on delectable gourmet sliders. No official opening date has been set but we think the two are sure to be a winning combination!

  • The Jeffrey Open Space Trail will be having its official ribbon cutting on January 10th, officially opening two of the four sections of the trail. The trail is designed to have a woodsy feel and will connect the Woodbury, Stonegate, and Cypress Villages. The 3.5-mile trail will feature plaques and monuments highlighting region's history.

  • Pretend City, Irvine's hand-on childrens museum, has plenty of education fun in the works for kids. The year begins with a brand new dental exhibit and the tranformation of their pretend cafe into the Veg-N-Out Café in January. On Feb 2nd, the museum will be celebrating the opening of their new Imagination Playground. Families also have a Tales of Korea exhibit, set to open May 25th, to look forward to in the new year.

Hotel Irvine: Home Never Felt so Cool

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

Hotel Irvine is the city's newest and brightest hotel star, designed to offer guests an innovative personal travel experience while still providing all the comforts of home.

Hotel IrvineLifestyle hotels are designed to provide guests with what they've left behind at home. They offer every convenience necessary to get the job done as well as a comfortable place to relax and unwind at the end of the day. 

Hotel Irvine at Jamboree Center has been meticulously planned to be a home away from home.

Hotel Irvine Mosaic 2

Home.... where you can stop by the food market and pick up something light and simple, like a freshly-made salad or a few street tacos for dinner instead of a heavy, traditional room service meal. MARKETPLACE

Home.... where you can catch the game at the neighborhood gastropub and have a craft beer and burger made just the way you like it. Maybe a plate of chicken and waffles... EATS KITCHEN and BAR

Home.... where you can treat yourself to a mixologist's cocktail creation while you relax and review the day with a few friends from work. RED BAR and LOUNGE

Hotel Irvine's "HI" experience is personal at every touch point, with all the usual offerings found in a typical hotel, yet in an entirely new way.

Think of it as spending a few days with a friend: one who makes sure you have what you need when you need it, who remembers what you liked the last time you visited, and who is happy to pick you up at the airport for free.

Hotel Irvine

A friend would never charge you to use Wi-Fi, or expect you to pay a service fee when they bring food to your room.

A friend welcomes you warmly when you arrive, makes sure you have everything you need for the evening and then prepares a tasty, light breakfast to start your day.

A friend would certainly never charge you for water in your room. 

As part of the overall transformation of the hotel, all 536 rooms and suites have been completely renovated. 

Hotel IrvineThe remodel is not about just paint, carpet and furnishings, it's about creating a comfortable, private, place to take a load off after the day and lay your head at night.  The décor is subtle, sleek and modern with bright color accents.  Each room has wireless blue tooth connections, a 42" flat screen and a "REACH ME"  text concierge app for the things that you just can't live without.  

Hotel Irvine is an oasis that balances the convenience of travel services with the splurge of a vacation getaway, all with an affordable price that will fit within a traveler's budget. 

Hip and Helpful. Fun yet Functional.

There may be no place like home, but Hotel Irvine offers the next best thing.

Hotel Irvine
 Contact at 888.230.4452

17900 Jamboree Rd, Irvine, CA 92614

Filed In: Dining, Insider Scoop

Family Staycation at The Irvine Marriott

Posted by: Guest
Posted on: Monday, Dec 15, 2014

Written by:
Melodi Steinberg | Influencer and Social Promoter
Founder - Family Review Guide & Eat Drink OC
Freelance Writer - Anaheim/OC Visitors Bureau

A family staycation can be a wonderful alternative to a long, expensive trip, especially during the holidays. Often times, traveling tends to include more work and stress than originally planned for, not to mention the added expenses, traffic and delays. Spending more quality time closer to home can be a wonderful experience and The Irvine Marriott has all the right amenities to fulfill your needs for a getaway filled with memories.

Irvine Marriott

Photo Credit: Irvine Marriott

Located at the heart of Irvine's commercial hub, The Irvine Marriott is close to John Wayne Airport. It is minutes away from Fashion Island, South Coast Plaza, The Irvine Spectrum, Newport Beach and more. Balboa Island is approximately a 15-minute drive and there are numerous restaurants within a short distance.

The Irvine Marriott recently completed a $5 million renovation to the hotel's lobby, lounge, and pool. Walls were moved and ceilings were raised to make the space feel more open. The now nautical-themed first-floor spaces are sleeker and give the hotel a more modern ambiance with a more sophisticated look. The color pallet is hues of blue, yellow and green which make for a very inviting and relaxed mood.

Marriott lobby

Guest Rooms

Families will fit comfortably in a double queen or a king sized room. Rooms with balconies are also available or you can choose to have a room on the concierge level. There is a maximum of 1 rollaway permitted in these rooms. For those wanting a suite, The Irvine Marriott offers a Luxury Suite as well as a Presidential suite. Both include access to the concierge lounge.

Treat yourself to a night of sweet slumbers with Irvine Marriott's luxurious pillow top mattresses and duvet bedding. Families can relax while watching TV with premium movie channels and pay per view.

Guest room



The Floe Lounge is Irvine Marriott's newest restaurant. It offers a comfortable setting with a co-mingling bar, spacious table seating and an outdoor patio. Their all-day menu features modern coastal cuisine and signature cocktails. They also have live music and a "relaxed" hour for drink specials and quick bites at half price. There is a children's menu available.

Floe Lounge

The Floe Lounge also boasts an impressive outdoor patio complete with its own herb wall that can be harvested for food at the restaurant. Plush colorful pillows and cushions fill the benches and seats outside. A warm fire pit is also a deluxe feature that guests can sit around to keep warm or use to roast their S'mores dessert.

Pools and Spa

Pools and spas

Kids and parents alike will love the pool and spa at the Irvine Marriott. The pool is partially covered so if it is raining you can still swim. The spa is fully covered and there are large lounge seats to snuggle up on. A nearby shower and bathroom near the pool make it convenient for families.



ping pong and fusball

Families will be thoroughly entertained with a custom built foosball table, several ping pong tables and giant chess. Play for an hour or just five minutes, fun is the key element here. There is plenty of seating and even tables where parents can sit and watch the excitement.

Gym Facilities

Gym facilities
A well equipped gym with free weights and cardio machines is available downstairs near the pool. Towels and water are provided.

Concierge Lounge


If you are not a Marriott Rewards Gold or Platinum member you can still upgrade to a concierge level room for $30 per day. This will give you access to Starbucks coffee and a full breakfast service during the day. In the evening you can enjoy sodas, water, fresh fruit, cookies and appetizers.


After a long day unwind in your room and watch the airplanes fly by while you take in the beautiful view. The Irvine Marriott is a prime choice for convenience and relaxation for a short or extended stay. 


The Irvine Marriott is located at:
18000 Von Karman Ave
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 553-0100

Blogger tip #1: Wi-Fi- is not complimentary
Blogger tip #2: There is a washer and dryer on site if you choose to do laundry.

Melodi Steinberg is a freelance writer out of Orange County. She typically covers food and family lifestyle topics. Her work can be found at and

The Nutcracker at The Barclay Theatre

Posted by: Terry Winkler
Posted on: Thursday, Dec 11, 2014

Nutcracker BarclayIn cities around the world, The Nutcracker has become a Christmas holiday tradition, and the holidays are not complete without seeing The Nutcracker live at the Irvine Barclay Theater.

The Nutcracker tells the story of Clara, a young girl who receives the gift of a nutcracker soldier from her mysterious godfather. During the night, magical events unfold: the Christmas tree grows taller, toy soldiers and little mice become larger, and Clara's nutcracker comes to life. He battles the ferocious Mouse King, and just when it seems all is lost, Clara distracts the Mouse King and saves her beloved nutcracker. Her act of bravery transforms the nutcracker into a handsome prince who takes Clara on a magical journey.

This full-length, traditional production is choreographed and directed by Festival Ballet Theatre's Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla, and features a cast of professional dancers and more than 100 Southern California children.

I have fond memories of taking my kids to The Nutcracker at the Barclay; seeing Irina Dvorovenko & Maxim Beloserkovsky from the American Ballet Theatre perform was a special experience and they're back!  Full guest artist schedule is noted below.

Guest Artists:
Carla Korbes - Pacific Northwest Ballet
Fabrice Calmels - Joffrey Ballet
Friday, Dec 12 at 7pm
Saturday, Dec 13 at 2pm
Saturday, Dec 13 at 7pm
Sunday, Dec 14 at 1pm
Sunday, Dec 14 at 6pm

Irina Dvorovenko & Maxim Beloserkovsky - American Ballet Theatre
Wednesday, Dec 17 at 7pm
Thursday, Dec 18 at 7pm
Friday, Dec 19 at 7pm
Saturday, Dec 20 at 2pm
Saturday, Dec 20 at 7pm

Isabella Boylston & Sascha Radetsky - American Ballet Theatre
Sunday, Dec 21 at 1pm
Sunday, Dec 21 at 6pm
Monday, Dec 22 at 2pm
Tuesday, Dec 23 at 2pm
Wednesday, Dec 24 at 11am

Artists subject to change.

Tickets: $45 adults; $42 seniors; $40 children
For group discounts, please call the box office.

*Family Nights: Dec 17 & 18 at 7pm
Buy 4 or more adult tickets and automatically save. Each ticket: $35.

Selfies with Santa at the Irvine Spectrum Center

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Saturday, Dec 06, 2014


Christmas cheer has arrived at the Irvine Spectrum Center  with Santa Claus in true Orange County style by being dressed in his beach attire best: hawaiian shirt, board shorts, converse sneakers, and a hang loose attitude. Meet Santa in his vibrant and fun Crystal Cove-Inspired 'Santa Shack' which is all decked out in ornaments and surfboards of orange, lime green, and turquoise hues. There's even a sandy snowman and creative coastal-inspired Christmas Tree out front for more photo ops.

Visitors can take two FREE selfies or photos with their camera or cell phone. And Santa's Helpers will also take one FREE digital photo and email it to you.* Hard Copy photos will be available for purchase upon request.

Come alone or bring the kids or friends and family, and meet Santa in all his surf, sand, and sun glory to get your selfie on! Check out the Selfies with Santa from Destination Irvine bloggers Ellen, Terry, & Me! We were bummed that Sharlene and Wendy weren't able to get their Selfie with Santa for this post, so don't miss out on your opportunity!

Post your photos to social media by using the hashtags #SantaSelfieOC and #HolidayStyleOC!

*By providing an email address to Santa's Helpers, you will be electing to receive emails from Irvine Company and its affiliates.

close up santa house

Santa Shack (located near Corner Bakery & Macy's, facing the Ice Skating Rink)

November 28, 2014 - December 24, 2014

• Monday - Saturday: Noon to 9:00pm
• Sunday: Noon to 8:00pm
• Christmas Eve (Wednesday, December 24): 10:00am to 6:00pm
• Christmas Day (Thursday, December 25): CLOSED - Santa flies back to the North Pole!

(949) 753-5180

Check out other Irvine Spectrum Center Holiday Offerings HERE!

Images via feastfashionfaves
Filed In: Dining

Umami Burger Joins The NEW and improved Irvine Improv

Posted by: Guest
Posted on: Wednesday, Dec 03, 2014

Written by:
Melodi Steinberg | Influencer and Social Promoter
Founder - Family Review Guide & Eat Drink OC
Freelance Writer - Anaheim/OC Visitors Bureau

Umami Burger

The iconic Irvine Improv at the Irvine Spectrum recently relocated and got an impressive face lift along with a new and improved menu. Now located across from the Edwards IMAX theater, the bigger and better Irvine Improv includes a luxurious new showroom and is connected to the largest Umami Burger in Orange County.

The new Umami Burger restaurant is in a very desirable location within the spectrum. It is attached to the Irvine Improv and they exclusively serve their food there. As a result, if you are taking in a show you can toggle between both places. For instance, you can take your drinks from the Improv after your show and finish enjoying them on the patio at Umami.

Umami post 1

The décor inside Umami is slightly industrial, yet still modern and fresh. The bar is in the center of the restaurant which creates a friendly and social environment. The outside patio is spacious and uniquely decorated. There is a lighting fixture made completely out of beer bottles and plenty of fluffy pillows with bright and vibrant designs. It is perfect for enjoying a drink with some friends before catching a show at the Improv.

When you are ready to see your show just walk next door to the comedy club. The new Irvine Improv has been completely redesigned. It has more than doubled in size from its previous location and has gone from 6,800 square feet to more than 15,000 square feet.

The World Famous Improv is where many of today's stars were born and continue to shine. They often headline stars from comedy central, SNL and Last Comic Standing. Gabriel Iglesias, Brian Regan, Kevin James, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Norm Macdonald are just a few of the comics that have performed at the Irvine Improv.

Boasting trendy chandeliers and plush red booths, the new Improv is a hot scene for many south Orange County Couples.

With a two item minimum per person guest can choose from a variety of food and beverages.

Umami Burger post 3

For appetizers their truffle fries are a popular choice. These decadent potatoes have truffle cheese fondue, and truffle salt which will leave your taste buds begging for more.

Burgers are also an impressive menu item. The "greenbird" is a great option for non beef eaters. This turkey patty is served with crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, and green goddess dressing.

For those who crave red meat try the "manly burger". Beer-cheddar, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, Umami house ketchup, and mustard spread will satisfy your craving.

Umami Burger post 4

The unique partnership between Umami burger and The Irvine Improv provides a fun filled night full of laughs, wild humor and good food and friends.

Blogger Tip #1: Come early, especially for known acts. You still have to line up outside if you want a good spot.

Blogger Tip #2: Group tickets are available for parties of 10 or more and include discounted food and beverage packages as well as no ticket handling charges.

Umami Burger and the Irvine Improv are both located at : 31 Fortune Dr., Suite 216 Irvine, CA 92618

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Phone: 949-660-9112
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