Pittsburgh Magazine: Best of the ‘Burgh 2019

We already know that Pittsburgh is the best city there is, right? But what are the best things to do in our city? Lucky for us, Pittsburgh Magazine posts an annual issue “Best of the ‘Burgh” that answers that exact question and delivers ‘best of’ in categories you might not expect (how cool is “5 Best Diners Where You Could See Rick Sebak” – he’s like the opposite of Jim Cantore – if Rick’s there you want to be and I know that because FOGO).

Best of the ‘Burgh 2019

best of the 'burgh 2019

I’ve had my copy of the print version of Pittsburgh Magazine’s “Best of the ‘Burgh 2019” since June and truth be told hadn’t taken the time to read it like it deserved. With a few quiet hours on a rainy Saturday, I decided to dive in and fall in love with our city all over again. This issue did not disappoint and added several things to my ‘Burgh Bucket List (that really should be a thing on here, will one of yinz let the blog owner know??!?). 😉 Can we talk about the fact that our BBQ-loving family has not been to Smoke?

You can check out some of the content online, but I highly recommend heading to Pittsburgh Magazine’s online store to get yourself a copy. This is great for your coffee table, business lobby, or to gift to out of town guests. Enjoy!

MasterChef Junior, Live! – Pittsburgh

Disclaimer: In exchange for sharing details about the upcoming MasterChef Junior, Live! Performance coming to Pittsburgh, I will receive tickets to attend and review the show. All opinions are 100% my own and I would like to thank Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for this media opportunity.

Coming October 6, 2019, you and your ‘lil chefs can check out a live performance of MasterChef Junior, Live! right here in Pittsburgh. We’re going to keep this one a secret in the house because it happens to be the weekend of a certain Big Kid’s eleventh birthday – time to encourage her to up her (already impressive) game of pizza breads, mac & cheese, and “Nutella sandwiches” (that’s a story for another day) as she watches this fast-paced, fun food competition.

Source: https://www.masterchefjuniorlive.com/about

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is bringing MasterChef Junior, Live! to the Byham Theater (NOTE THIS VENUE CHANGED SINCE OUR ORIGINAL POST!) on Sunday, October 6, 2019 at 7:00 PM. Since this is a one-show event, make sure you get your tickets at trustarts.org ASAP!

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About Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners.  Founded in 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District.  The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization.  A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity.  Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life.  Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts.

Source: TrustArts.org

TrustArts.org | @CulturalTrust on Facebook Â· Instagram Â· Twitter

Disney’s THE LION KING: Coming to Pittsburgh in September

Disclaimer: In exchange for sharing details about the upcoming Disney’s THE LION KING Performance coming to Pittsburgh through Disney Theatrical Productions and Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, I will receive tickets to attend and review the show. All opinions are 100% my own.

We’re a little behind and have yet to check out the live action movie by the same name, but Disney’s THE LION KING has been a Willis house favorite since 1994 – a good 24 years before we were “the Willis house”. I’m imaging that the Mister is going to be surprised when I take him downtown to the Benedum Center for the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh Series production of Disney’s THE LION KING. (Recommended ages for this show are 8 and up.)

Source: @thelionking on Instagram

As the world’s #1 musical, Disney’s THE LION KING comes to Pittsburgh as a presentation by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Broadway Across America as part of the 2019-2020 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh Series. The production will be at the Benedum Center from September 4-29, 2019. For tickets and more information, visit TrustArts.org.

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About THE LION KING

After 21 landmark years on Broadway, The Lion King continues ascendant as one of the most popular stage musicals in the world.  Since its premiere on November 13, 1997, 25 global productions have been seen by more than 100 million people.  Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), The Lion King has made theatrical history with six productions worldwide running 15 or more years.  Performed in nine different languages (English, Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and Portuguese), productions of The Lion King can currently be seen on Broadway; London’s West End; Hamburg; Tokyo; Madrid; Scheveningen, Holland; on tour across Japan and North America, with a separate production touring internationally, for a total of nine productions running concurrently across the globe. 

Having played over 100 cities in 20 countries on every continent except Antarctica, The Lion King’s worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.      

The Lion King won six 1998 Tony AwardsŸ:  Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan) and Best Direction of a Musical.  The Lion King has also earned more than 70 major arts awards including the 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 GrammyŸ for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Event of the Year and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design. 

Source: Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

This Summer Only: Living Dinosaurs at the National Aviary

This post includes information about the exhibit Living Dinosaurs at the National Aviary. Our family was asked to provide this review in exchange for our visit. All opinions are 100% our own.

If you’ve been reading or following us on social, you’re probably not surprised by the fact that we are big fans of the National Aviary (located right here in Pittsburgh). It started back in the days of the Rhinoceros Hornbill (which is no longer on exhibit), expanded to the twins’ love for the penguins, and now there is a brand new exhibit this summer that captivated us – the Living Dinosaurs at the National Aviary!

Living Dinosaurs at the National Aviary

Through September 29, visitors to the National Aviary will be treated to interactive exhibits that tie in the connection between birds and dinosaurs. Starting right when you enter the hallway across from the Toco Toucans, you’ll be able to compare bird and dinosaur eggs and see some real fossils (be sure to look for the ax symbol on the info cards at the stations!). Each bird exhibit has a dinosaur footprint to share some facts about the connection between the bird and their dino relatives.

If your kids have an imagination like ours’ do, they be convinced they met a real baby T-Rex during Ty’s storytime, that they are archaeologists excavating fossils or that they’re
pterosaurs! These fun, immersive exhibits add a special touch to the theme of the special exhibit, so make sure you budget a good 3-4 hours to take it all in!

A realistic baby t-rex!
Isla & Arianna pretending to be archaeologists
pterosaur
Ava and Evan dressing up like pterosaurs

Living Dinosaurs: The Details

Living Dinosaurs, presented by Peoples

Now through September 29

Our interactive exhibit features a dinosaur nest play space and dress up station, microscope stations for exploring fossil eggs, dig pits and dig tables for budding paleontologists, and fossil puzzles that allow kids to reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton! Colorful signage, vibrant illustrations, and life-size models bring dinosaurs to life! For an extra fee, experience BirdlyÂź, a virtual reality flight simulator, and feel, see, and hear like a Pterosaur!

Join us at 11 am for Storytime with Ty, an animatronic feathered baby T-Rex that blinks, roars, and interacts with guests, and then visit the Rose Garden at 12 pm for Paleo Play for a dinosaur-themed game or craft. At 3 pm every day our staff lead a “Feathers and Fossils” tour through the National Aviary to see birds up close and learn how they’re more like dinosaurs than you might think


Source: National Aviary

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National Aviary: The Extras

In addition to checking out the Living Dinosaurs exhibits, you might want to add a few extra experiences to your day. We did the Amazing Amazon show (birds fly directly overhead!) and fed the Lorikeets. While there is plenty to do, these are things we’d never done back when we were members and now we realize we had been missing out! Tickets for these experiences can be bought at the ticket counter when you buy your admission.

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About the National Aviary

The whole family will love exploring our lush habitats where beautiful birds fly freely around you, visiting with our colony of adorable African Penguins, and looking for Wookiee the sloth in our Tropical Rainforest. There’s always something new to discover with exciting hatchings, nesting birds, and friendly staff. The National Aviary is open daily from 10 am – 5pm. Our primarily indoor facility is ADA compliant, stroller-friendly, and easy to navigate. We offer on-site parking (on a first-come, first served basis), a cafĂ© with open seating, and two gifts shops. Visit www.aviary.org to learn more or call 412-323-7235.

Phipps Conservatory – Summer Family Fun

Phipps Conservatory invited our family to a media day event to hear about the summer family fun that they have to offer. In exchange for our entrance to Phipps, we agreed to share this information with you. All opinions are 100% our own.

Phipps Conservatory

The four ‘lil Burghers embarked on their first ever trip to Phipps Conservatory this past weekend (Mom and Dad had gone before, but kept all the fun a big secret from the kiddos). On this trip, we were reminded to take the time and notice the beauty in nature but we also learned about what Phipps has to offer for summer family fun in 2019.

Phipps Conservatory – Summer Family Fun

Visit Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory any day of the year with your kiddos and you’re sure to have a blast. There’s fun and learning to be had throughout and programs are offered year-round outside of general admission. But in the summer of 2019, Phipps is offering summer camps, discovery programs, and dynamic exhibits to enjoy while exploring the gardens on a visit.

Summer Camp at Phipps Conservatory

Phipps Summer Camps
source: Phipps Conservatory

Children ages 2-13 can explore Phipps this summer through their summer camp programs. (There are scholarships available, but must apply by May 29.) There are full-day programs (like Rockin’ Researchers with Let’s Move Pittsburgh) and four day programs for your ‘lil explorers (with adult supervision). In these programs, your children will connect with nature, learn about healthy and sustainable living, and can even get deeper information on botany! Check out every camp that Phipps has to offer here.

Discovery Programs at Phipps

Throughout the summer, bring your children to Phipps for weekly scheduled programs that will give them an added dimension of learning and fun to their visit. These are subject to change, but current offerings are:

  • Make-a-Craft Mondays (10:30 a.m. – noon)
  • Story Time Wednesdays (10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
  • Pot-a-Plant Fridays (10:30 a.m. – noon)

We got a chance to check out the Pot-a-Plant activity during our Discovery Garden Day visit – each of the kids was stpped through how to properly plant a zinnia and what it meant that it was an annual plant (to just enjoy this summer, kids!).

Mom recommends – if you are doing this activity, come with a tote bag (here‘s her current favorite) to carry the plants in or do this at the very end of your visit. Although they came in paper bags to carry, the kids really wanted their hands for exploring and mom didn’t want to be bogged down with the plants.

In addition to the weekly scheduled programs, there are pop-up discovery stations throughout the gardens that spotlight specific content. During our visit, we made seed balls in the Tropical Forest Cuba exhibit and did a scavenger hunt for (teeny, tiny!) plants in the Bog Garden. You never know what fun awaits until you go and check it out yourself!

Making a seed ball
On a scavenger hunt

Dynamic Exhibits at Phipps

Before you go on your visit to Phipps Conservatory, you might want to have a look at what exhibits are on their events calendar. We got to check out Van Gogh in Bloom – a transformation of Van Gogh’s paintings into plants and props (so beautiful) and the butterfly forest; however, these might change before your visit so know before you go!

But no matter when you visit, there is always something beautiful in bloom. We encourage you to add Phipps to our summer bucket list if you live in or are visiting Pittsburgh! Check out more photos from our visit here.

About Phipps Conservatory

The top five things we recommend you visit while at Phipps this summer (as per recommendation from Phipps’ Children’s programming director) are:

  • Van Gogh in Bloom
  • Butterfly Forest
  • Tropical Forest Cuba
  • Gallery Room Market
  • The Discovery Garden

About Phipps: Founded in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, PA is a globally recognized green leader with a mission to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse. Encompassing 15 acres including a historic 14-room glasshouse, 23 distinct indoor and outdoor gardens and industry-leading sustainable architecture and operations, Phipps attracts nearly half a million visitors annually from around the world. Learn more at  phipps.conservatory.org.

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Admission is $17.95 for adults, $16.95 for seniors and students, and $11.95 for children (2-18). Members and kids under 2 enter free.

Fun Slides Carpet Skatepark Pittsburgh – Spring Staycation!

We received tickets to check out Fun Slides Carpet Skatepark through US Family Guide. All opinions are 100% our own.

It’s been awhile since the big kids and I checked out Fun Slides Carpet Skate Park in Pittsburgh (December 2016, to be honest); but I realized that I forgot to let you all know how it went after I first told you about them.

Here’s where I admit that you’re going to see a few posts like this here over the next few months. You see, being a mom of four who works full-time outside of the home + volunteers with church + has kids in sports…life gets away FAR TOO EASILY. I don’t want to put up some front that I’ve got it all together because SIS, I don’t and you shouldn’t either.

But the good news is that my post is right on time for you parents of kiddos who actually get a spring break (unlike mine who are in Armstrong and won’t see summer until the middle of June #minirant).

Fun Slides Carpet Skatepark Pittsburgh – Spring Staycation!

With the weather being as crazy as it has been so far in April (70 one day, 30 the next), Fun Slides Carpet Skatepark is a great place to go to enjoy some of your spring break indoors. US Family Guide shared with me the details:

Fun Slides Carpet s Skatepark & Party Center www.funslidespark.com is a family owned and operated entertainment facility known for our unique brand of blacklight sliding family fun, excellence in providing awesome birthday party experiences for our customers ages four through teen and skate staff that love to teach people how to carpet skate and do cool tricks.

What is Carpet Skating you may ask? From the makers of EZ Moves Furniture Slides, this unique and cool type of fun is so easy to learn. Skate instructors strap plastic skates on the bottom of your athletic shoes, give a demonstration and then teach you to slide in minutes. Kids and parents alike love to carpet skate because as our motto says
”You Were Born to Slide!”

US FAMILY GUIDE

And the Bigs throughly enjoyed their “cool carpet shoes”, the music, the ramps, and the black lights. As a mom who is such a rule follower, it was a little tough for me to chase them around and make sure they were following the rules (especially because Arianna, the oldest, was more daring and would go down bigger ramps than Evan); but the biggest piece of advice I can give is let them have fun.

When we visited, we got to do a few Xtra activities like laser tag and a ninja course. They now have dodgeball, carpet hockey, and a glow-in-the-dark bounce house. You’ll easily fill a few hours of spring break fun with a visit. For details on visiting and a list of current Xtra activities, check out their website.

All in all, the Bigs laughed a ton, fell a few times (but got right back up), and have asked to go back more than once. We’ve been waiting to return for the twins get get a little bit older, but now that they’re four, we will probably get a visit there again soon. The two hour passes are a great way to burn off that Easter sugar rush!

Liberty Magic Welcomes “IMPOSSIBLE”

In exchange for our review and providing you with information, we received tickets to Liberty Magic to see Eric Jones in “IMPOSSIBLE”. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% our own.

As parents, Greg and I find it extremely important to make sure that we keep dating each other. When Pittsburgh Cultural Trust asked us to check out their new venue Liberty Magic and watch Eric Jones in “IMPOSSIBLE”, it gave us a great “excuse” to get out for an evening and leave the kiddos with Unca.

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, how many coins can be hidden and pulled from behind someone’s ears and it still wow a person? But the venue seemed cool and we have a history of meeting people from America’s Got Talent, so I was willing to give this one a go and kept the evening a surprise from Greg until we got to Liberty Magic.

The Venue: Liberty Magic

What used to be a small comedy theater on Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh is now Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Liberty Magic. Unlike other venues associated with Cultural Trust, this is an intimate (70-person/four rows of seats) venue. It is BYOB (a speakeasy feel – come in cocktail attire for fun!) and tucked into what would appear to be an old store front.

Inside, the venue is decorated with memorabilia of illusion artists, Zoltar (if you’ve been to Kennywood, you’re familiar), and some pretty incredible ceilings and light fixtures. Seating is comfortable for the 60-minute shows (chairs and bar stools). There are only four other cities with venues like this!

Liberty Magic
Some of the decor

The Show: Eric Jones in “IMPOSSIBLE”

Eric Jones brings humor to the stage with his show. It is more than hiding some coins and guessing cards. We found ourselves laughing (although the content is not all clean or kid-friendly) and wondering how he made his tricks work.

He limits his tricks to a few really good ones and keeps the audience engaged through stories of his childhood and career steps. Jones said that he “stands on the shoulders of giants” and his illusions are both original and based on his mentors’ illusions.

Following the show, Skeleton VIP Key holders are able to go to the green room and have a 15-minute chat with Jones to see some up-close tricks and ask questions, but he isn’t giving the answers to “how did you do that trick”. For example, when Greg asked him if there was anything that gave him an “advantage” in his show, he replied that proprioception – relationship to things around you – is ingrained better in some than in others so it helps with making his show work (for instance, juggling coins in his hands based on spatial awareness).

Eric wowed me with his down to earth, humble attitude. I found myself listening to his words and his passion for people and a message throughout his show that you should take what you are passionate about and make a living out of it and (frankly) ignoring the “illusion”. Eric gives back to the community that gave to him by going to inner city schools and ingraining into teens the importance of making something of yourself through your passions. As a mama who has done this, it made a few tears come to my eyes.

If you’d like to check out “IMPOSSIBLE”, you have until March 17, 2019 and then Lee Terbosic takes residency through May. For tickets, head over to Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

A New Pittsburgh Cultural District Space – Liberty Magic

This post contains information suited for our adult readers. Liberty Magic is a new Pittsburgh Cultural District Space opening in February 2019 and is recommended for ages 18+. We like to share adult events on our site when they are date-night opportunities for our parent readers. In exchange for our promotion of this event, we have received tickets for an upcoming performance. All opinions are 100% our own.

811 Liberty Avenue is now “Liberty Magic”

This February, a brand new Pittsburgh Cultural District space has opened up. 811 Liberty Avenue is now “Liberty Magic”, an “intimate, speakeasy magic arts space” that opened this past week with the nationally-acclaimed magician Eric Jones. The space will seat 70 attendees and include an option for Skeleton Key VIP Experience ticket holders to sit right up front for private tricks, be part of the show, take part in an after-show experience with the performer, and purchase exclusive merchandise.

Up first, Jones brings his show IMPOSSIBLE from February 6 to March 20, 2019. Pittsburgh Cultural Trust says Jones “will leave audiences in wonder as reality transforms into the unreal, coins multiply and cards fly. By the show’s conclusion, guests will have been left in amazement by Jones’ canny ability to blur the lines between reality and illusion”.

Source: Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Information from Pittsburgh Cultural Trust on What to Expect:


Liberty Magic seating is general admission, priced at $40 per ticket. Performances are: Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 5 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 6:30 p.m.

There is a special Skeleton Key VIP Experience for $65 reserved for the truly adventurous. The Skeleton Key VIP Experience unlocks the first two rows in our intimate theater, a chance to become part of the performance (if you wish) and an exclusive meet and greet with the artist after the show, which includes private, close-up mysteries. Members of the Skeleton Key VIP Experience also have the opportunity to purchase merchandise not available for sale to the general public.

The Liberty Magic experience is recommended for ages 18 and up, and no one under 12 will be admitted. Liberty Magic also offers a special space for private groups, corporate off-sites, staff member rewards, client entertaining, and many special occasions including anniversaries, birthdays, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and family gatherings. Student, corporate, and group sales discounts are available for select performances. Visit TrustArts.org/Groups to learn more. 

While there is no dress code, we encourage guests to dress in cocktail or party attire, making for an extra-special night out.

Liberty Magicis a BYOB speakeasy, and one of the most affordable in town! Bring your own beer, wine, cocktails, or soft drinks to sip on while you are amazed by our world-class magicians. There is a $5 per guest corkage fee.

Challenger Sports International Soccer Camp 2019

Review Disclaimer: We have a partnership with US Family Guide – they provide opportunities such as Challenger International Soccer Camp in exchange for reviews on this blog and our social media. All opinions are 100% our own.

source: US Family Guide

It might be hard to believe when we’re still in that time of year when it is 50-degrees one day and 30-degrees the next, but it is time to start planning what your kiddos are going to do when they’re off school this summer. For the last two summers, Evan has taken part in a Challenger Sports soccer camp and he’s excited to do the same this year.

Challenger Sports International Soccer Camp

You might remember that the program Evan was involved in the past two summers was British Soccer. This year, Challenger Sports is combining elements of that program with their TetraBrazil program and unveiling the all-new Challenger International Soccer Camp. Evan has had coaches from both the UK and Brazil, so I’m sure not too much is going to change other than bringing even more opportunities to get skills from coaches around the world.

International Soccer Camp will include instructional camp programs for ages 3 and up. The TinyTykes program (for ages 3-5) will include fundamental soccer activities, games, and stories, designed to enhance technical skills along with physical and social development. With the return of half and full-day programs for ages 6-16, students will get time for skill development, games, challenges, and competition each day.

challenger sports international soccer camp

Get Registered for International Soccer Camp

Challenger Sports, the leading soccer camp company in North America, is combining the most popular elements of their two existing industry-leading camp programs, British Soccer and TetraBrazil, integrating them into a collection of the most effective soccer practices used by youth teams around the world.

The new Challenger International Soccer Camp reflects the truly global nature of the sport today and provides young players with a wide variety of coaching styles, practices, and influences that will help them develop a well-rounded skill set.

We have taken the best coaching methodologies and practices from England, Brazil, Spain, USA and France and have woven them together in a multi-faceted on and off-field coaching experience.

Most camps will include a free soccer ball, T-shirt, Poster and Certificate, but please check your individual sessions on the next page to confirm this.

Any camp or clinic participant will receive the iChallenge App and 20 free skill-building videos!

Source: Challenger Sports

Interested in joining in the fun this summer? Search for the International Soccer Camp closest to you and then register. US Family Guide has shared with me that if you register 30 days before camp, your child will qualify for a free International Game Jersey!

Phantom of the Opera: Pittsburgh

Exciting news to share with you from Pittsbugh Cultural Trust – starting next week, you can catch THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in Pittsburgh! Part of PNC Broadway on Pittsburgh, this show will be in town February 20 to March 3, 2019.

Tickets for Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA are on sale for the triumphant return Pittsburgh engagement at the Benedum Center, 237 7th Street.  With newly reinvented staging and stunning scenic design, this new version of PHANTOM is performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this one of the largest productions on tour in North America.  This event is a season special part of the 2018-2019 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, and Broadway Across America. 

Source: PITTSBURGH CULTURAL TRUST AND PNC BROADWAY IN PITTSBURGH

Tickets (currently starting at $36 for select performance) are on sale now and available at the following official Pittsburgh Cultural Trust ticket sources: online at TrustArts.org, by calling Guest Services at 412-456-4800, or in person at Theater Square Box Office, 655 Penn Avenue. For groups of 10+ call 412-471-6930, online at TrustArts.org/GroupSales or in person at Theater Square Box Office.