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Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday! Or rather, Friday evening as this is going up a bit late in the day. I've taken three exams in the past day and a half and only have one more left now. Are any of you dealing with exams right now? Thank goodness for the Broadway news that gets me through the day.

No One Else: I was so excited when I saw this "Which Great Comet Character Are You?" quiz from Buzzfeed earlier this week. (Though I think this one is actually better.) I got Natasha on both of them; let me know what you get in the comments!

Happy Easter: NBC has announced that their next televised live musical will be Jesus Christ Superstar on Easter Sunday of this coming year. Thoughts?

Ben Platt, the Unicorn?: This New York Times article examines Ben Platt's nightly transformation into anxiety-riddled teen Evan Hansen, how he got the role, and how he's taking care of himself mentally and physically.

Wait for It: In the fall, I wrote my communications capstone paper on how Hamilton's marketing team has dealt with the issue of ticket scarcity. It was published in Elon's Communications Journal which came out this week, so now you can read it here.

Broadway's Favorite Vlogger: Need a recap of every show that's been on Broadway this year? Check out Playbill's Tyler Mount, who is without a doubt one of the best Broadway vloggers ever.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Review: Kinky Boots Broadway

A Kinky Boots review is better late than never, right? In March, I finally got the chance to see my favorite actor Killian Donnelly as Charlie Price on Broadway. Kinky Boots is actually one of my favorite shows, as I saw it last summer on Broadway and I saw the tour in the fall. However, it's the West End cast album with Killian that I've always listened to so I was so excited to finally see him in the role.


There was definitely something in the air because the audience went wild over the show. I was lucky to have an amazing orchestra seat (thanks, Mom and Dad!) for this moment that I'd been waiting for. I think that the show's message of acceptance and love has become even more important with our current political climate. I recommend it to anyone going to New York!

I loved Taylor Louderman as Wendy in Peter Pan Live! so I was so excited to see her as the quirky and too relatable Lauren, who works at Price & Sons. Her Lauren was so adorable that I don't think anyone could not root for her! She gave her a depth that I think the character sometimes lacks, much as I love her. And her "History of Wrong Guys" was absolutely amazing!


I was lucky enough to see J. Harrison Ghee as Lola on tour and he has only improved since making the leap to Broadway. His Lola is absolutely legendary, as he handles humor and drama equally well. His "Hold Me In Your Heart" made me cry once again! I also never fail to be impressed by his dancing, which is utterly fantastic.


Killian Donnelly as Charlie Price was everything I'd hoped for and more. If only we could keep him on Broadway for longer! Charlie is a difficult character in some ways because he's really not very likable to be honest. But Killian manages to make him sympathetic and really portrays his crisis about how to proceed with his life. Killian's "Soul of a Man" is the stuff of legends, but he also shines in songs like "Everybody Say Yeah" and Charlie's soliloquies.


While Kinky Boots is always an amazing show, the current cast truly shines and makes the source material even better. I highly recommend going to see it if you're in the city!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday! This was a big week for the theatre fans with the Tony Awards nominations on Tuesday. There were some definite surprises (Allison Janney getting snubbed, Mike Faist winning out the Featured Actor nomination over Will Roland), but I was so pleased for everyone nominated! What did you guys think?

Style through the Years: This absolutely beautiful People Magazine article chronicles the different time periods of fashion present on Broadway right now from Anastasia to The Bandstand. 

A Little Preview: The Broadway cast album for Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 will be released later this month on May 19, but they've uploaded their new recording of "Letters" to their YouTube channel. It's my absolute favorite song in the show!

I Got Lina??: I was so excited when I saw Buzzfeed's new "Which 'Singin' in the Rain' Character Are You?" quiz, but then I got Lina? Please let me know what you guys get!

You Get To Choose: The Broadway.com Audience Awards are now allowing you to vote for nominations. Make sure to fill out the form and vote for all your favorites (but especially vote for Alistair Brammer!).

City of Stars: Now, my friends will tell you that I absolutely hated La La Land. However, I'm in love with this beautiful cover of "City of Stars" by my faves, Carrie Hope Fletcher and Pete Bucknall.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Tony Award Nomination Predictions

Tomorrow is one of the most important days of the year for theatre nerds everywhere...Tony Award nomination day. I was lucky enough to be a part of an exciting new podcast series, Next Best Theatre, where we discussed our predictions for all the main awards. You can check out the podcast here and keep reading for all my predictions for the musicals categories.

Featured Actress in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Jenn Colella, Come From Away
Brittain Ashford, Great Comet
Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly! 

Featured Actor in a Musical
Andrew Rannells, Falsettos
Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
Michael Xavier, Sunset Boulevard
Lucas Steele, Great Comet
Nick Cordero, A Bronx Tale

Best Actress in a Musical
Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Patti LuPone, Warpaint
Christine Ebersole, Warpaint
Denée Benton, Great Comet
Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon

Best Actor in a Musical
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day
David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
Jon Jon Briones, Miss Saigon
Josh Groban, Great Comet

Best Musical Revival 
Hello, Dolly!
Falsettos
Miss Saigon 

Of course, there's a high chance that Sunset Boulevard will take the third nomination but I have to keep hoping for Miss Saigon.

Best Musical 
Dear Evan Hansen
Come from Away
Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812
Groundhog Day 

Don't forget that the Tony nominations are live-streamed on their website tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m., which will be hosted by Hamilton's Chris Jackson and She Loves Me's Jane Krakowski this year. Check back for my predictions for who will win each award later this month!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

If anyone has been reading my blog for a while, they might remember that I used to do roundups of fun Internet links every Friday. Recently, a friend asked me if I might consider bringing it back and I've decided to do so -- but with a twist.

For now (and I'll continue it if it goes well!), I'll be doing Friday Internet Finds but with all musical theatre related links. So make sure to check back every Friday for my fave Internet finds of musical theatre and theatre links of the week. And let me know in the comments below or on social media if you like these! x

Skimm for Broadway: If you want to stay up to date on daily Broadway news, consider subscribing to the Broadway Briefing newsletter. It includes important news, events happening that day, Broadway birthdays, and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Newsie No More: Dear Evan Hansen's Mike Faist opened up to MTV about playing the troubled Connor Murphy in Broadway's biggest hit of the season. He discussed how he's dealing with portraying a suicidal teen and why he rarely stage doors.

Things I Almost Remember: I got a perfect score on this "How Well Do You Know Anastasia?" quiz from BroadwayWorld.com. How well can you do?

It's Bigger: This Broadway.com article explains how this year's Broadway season boasts the most new musicals since 1981...and what that means for the Tony Awards.

Charmante: As they approach the release of their Broadway cast album next month, Great Comet has been releasing music videos for their songs. This jazz club themed one of Amber Gray (who plays Hélène) singing "Charming" is absolutely stunning.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Review: Miss Saigon Broadway

Miss Saigon has been one of my favorite musicals since I discovered it years ago and it's much more than simply the show that shot Lea Salonga to stardom. I saw it last month, on March 24, to celebrate my sister's birthday. Based on the opera Madame Butterfly but set in the Vietnam War, it tells the story of a young American GI and a Vietnamese girl who are separated by the fall of Saigon. Furthermore, it brings light to the situation of the "bui doi" -- the half-American children born to Vietnamese women who had to deal with the stigma of their Western heritage. As a history major, how could I resist a show like this?


The music is written by the team that brought us Les Mis: Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil. It's a sumptuous score, alternating between dance numbers like "American Dream" and "The Heat is On" and soaring ballads like "I'd Give My Life for You" and "Why God Why." You can't leave the theatre without at least one song in your head. (If you'd like to listen, I recommend the recent live West End revival recording.)


This first Broadway revival takes after the recent West End one, even importing some of its cast. It's grittier than the original production and more focused on showing the atrocities of war. The sets are realistic enough to immerse you in the action and the costuming is lovely. Of course, it's the helicopter that many come to see and the effects surrounding it (especially with lighting and sound) are intense and impressive.


I could write whole essays on how fierce and wonderful Eva Noblezada is as Kim. Eva first played the role in London, right after graduating from high school (yes, I feel inferior in every way). Now back in her native United States after finishing up playing Eponine in Les Mis, it's clear that her Kim has only improved. Aside from her stunning vocals and acting that leaves me sobbing every time, I'm always impressed with how naturally she interacts with the young children who play Tam.

You can check out her singing "I'd Give My Life for You" at the Olivier Awards:


Though this was my third time seeing Miss Saigon, I've never seen anyone but Jon Jon Briones as the Engineer and I frankly never want to. It's a character with a tricky line to walk between comedic relief and showing the immorality that flourishes in wartime and Jon Jon executes it perfectly while also providing a humanity to the character. His "American Dream" is a show-stopper; the audience didn't stop applauding for several minutes the night that I saw it!


I truly didn't think that Alistair Brammer's Chris could be improved upon after seeing him in the West End, but Alistair proved me wrong. Alistair has been one of my favorite actors since I was sixteen and I'm so incredibly proud of him for being a leading man on Broadway, especially for a role like Chris which he seems born to play. (Yes, I feel like a proud little sister or something.) His voice is well-suited to the score and his "Why God Why" is the kind of performance that makes you remember why you love live theatre. However, it's his acting that impresses me the most: he truly shows a man broken by war and frustrated by his inability to help the people of a country torn apart. His "Confrontation" in Act II brought me to tears, especially his deliver of the heartbreaking line, "I'm an American, how could I fail to do good?" It's also worth saying that while his American accent was good in his West End performance, it's so impeccable now that I'm sure some are surprised to find out he's English!


If you have the chance, I would highly recommend seeing this beautiful and moving show before it leaves Broadway again in January as it's on a limited engagement. Worth seeing for any one of the three leads alone, it also boasts an impressive ensemble and cast of featured actors. For now, I'm just glad to have my favorite show back on Broadway, living the "American Dream."

Make sure to check out my full review video below x

Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

I never would have guessed that War and Peace would be great material for a musical, but that was before seeing Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812. I was lucky enough to see this masterpiece in March over my spring break at the Imperial Theater on Broadway. This new Tony Awards hopeful was written by Dave Malloy and is an adaption of a small part of Tolstoy's work. It follows Pierre through his existential crisis and Natasha through her anguish over the two men in her life, Andrey and Anatole.

I chose to see the show mostly because I had read so many good things about its immersive experience. They remodeled the Imperial Theater (where I have seen Les Mis three times) to include seating on the stage and ways for the actors to access the orchestra and balcony. With the actors all around you, it's hard not to get swept away in the action of the show. It has such an intimate feeling and if you're lucky, you might get handed a dumpling, shaker, or letter during the course of the musical!


However, even if it weren't one of the coolest theatrical experiences ever, the music itself is worth seeing the show. Dave Malloy has created a show that intermingles haunting melodies like Pierre's "The Great Comet of 1812" and Natasha's "No One Else" with rousing songs like "The Duel" and "Balaga." My sister and I both walked out the the theatre with the chorus of "Letters" stuck firmly in our heads! You can currently buy the Off-Broadway cast album featuring Malloy himself as Pierre and Philippa Soo as Natasha or wait until May when the Broadway cast album is released.

If you've not heard, Josh Groban is currently playing Pierre and I don't think I've ever been so surprised by a performance. Of course, I knew that Josh has a lovely voice but I wasn't prepared for his impressive acting performance. He brings a gravity and a realness to Pierre's struggle...and even made me wish I could play the accordion? If you have a chance to see him before he leaves the show in July, I would highly recommend it. I'm expecting a Tony nomination for this one!

No, I did not leave the lipstick mark on his cheek.
Denée Benton is absolutely stunning as the troubled ingenue Natasha. With a pure beautiful voice and an ability to portray emotion from across a theatre, it's easy to see why she was cast in the role. Natasha is definitely one of my favorite female roles on Broadway right now and Denée makes the audience feel for her.

While sadly I didn't get to see the great Lucas Steele as Anatole, I was lucky enough to see his understudy Blaine Krauss who was absolutely incredible. His charisma onstage was magnetic and he sang the (rather difficult) role wonderfully. Though Anatole is somewhat of a cad (spoilers!), I couldn't help but be drawn to him and found myself watching him in scenes with the ensemble. I also just can't help but be impressed by any understudy or swing in a show with blocking this difficult!

If you only have the chance to see one show from this Broadway season, I would pick Great Comet because there's simply nothing else like it. While the plot is admittedly complicated and perhaps somewhat difficult to follow, the beautiful music, set, and costumes are absolutely a must-see. And who knows...you might come away with a War and Peace obsession like I did.

Make sure to check out my video review on my YouTube channel as well! x

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tale as Old as Time: Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Growing up, Belle was always my favorite princess (now that spot belongs to Rapunzel or Anna of course). A bookworm who feels out of place in her village and longs for something more...how could little Nicole not relate? I first saw a bit of the Beauty and the Beast film last January when I got a tour of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California and they gave us a sneak peek. I've been waiting impatiently ever since! But since Belle has always had a place in my heart and the live action Cinderella is one of my favorite movies ever, I was very nervous that the movie wouldn't live up to my standards...


I am pleased to report that this film is in every way truly stunning and magical. It's a lovely adaption of the original, just changed enough to address all the plot holes that annoyed me as a child and make the Beast infinitely more charming. The CGI is absolutely incredible and the sets and scenery are breathtaking. I'll be surprised if it doesn't at least get Oscar nominations for costuming and sound mixing. I now want every single outfit Emma Watson wears in the film except maybe the yellow dress, which I've never liked.

Of course, one of my favorite parts of the film is the music...I'm so glad Disney decided to keep this one a movie musical! (And I'm sure they are too thanks to how well it's doing at the box office.) You can read my review of the soundtrack here, so I'll keep this short. I adore the new songs and have been listening to and singing "Evermore" almost constantly since I got the album. Emma Watson is no singer, but she does a passable job and I'm admittedly a bit obsessed with how wonderful Dan Stevens's and Luke Evans's voices are. I also love the handful of lyric changes, especially those in "Gaston" and "The Mob Song."

If you had allowed me to cast this movie, I certainly would have picked Emma Watson for Belle (since Laura Michelle Kelly is arguably too old for the part). She didn't disappoint in the least as her Belle was intelligent and spirited, yet still kind and compassionate. I thought that her acting shined most in the Paris scene, which had me crying!

I loved Dan Stevens in Downton Abbey and Summer in February, but I wasn't ready for how much I loved him as the Beast. He managed to act the part superbly despite the amount of CGI and his amazing voice absolutely floored me. I loved the changes to the Beast's character. By making him an intellectual with a great sense of humor, it made it much more believable that Belle would fall in love with him.

No one smirks like Gaston?
Luke Evans as Gaston was the star of the film for me, but the again I have a weakness for a well-trained voice. His Gaston was strangely charming at the beginning of the film, but was disturbingly sinister in a very real way by the end. One of my favorite changes from the original is that Gaston is a Captain and war hero, whose high rank in the town is well secured.

Josh Gad as LeFou was the perfect complement to Evans's Gaston. He was hilarious without being ridiculous and brought a moral complexity to the character that I didn't expect. This LeFou is definitely not the one-dimensional character of the animated film. I personally thought that his sexuality was subtle, but well done. I had initially been afraid it might be an offensively flamboyant portrayal, but it was actually so subtle that I'm wondering why people bothered boycotting it...

A Few of My Favorite Things:

  • Anything and everything to do with Belle's father, Maurice.
  • Audra McDonald as the Wardrobe/Mme Garderobe was hilarious, beautiful, and God that voice!!
  • How well this film grounded the story in location and time period.
  • The Prologue was visually beautiful and set up the story quite well.
  • Not any different from the original, but I'll never be over the cleverness of the last line of the Prologue ("For who could ever learn to love a Beast?") being answered by the song that immediately follows ("Belle")
  • The few bars of "Home" (from the Broadway production) being played when Belle arrived at her room in the castle 

A Few Complaints

  • I wanted to spend more time in Belle's village because it was so picturesque and intriguing.
  • I wanted to see a few more reunions at the end between the townsfolk and former enchanted objects.
  • It made me so sad that we didn't get to hear Luke Evans sing Gaston's solo from the Broadway production, "Me." 
  • I needed a featurette following the film immediately about how they filmed everything with the Beast because I'm so intrigued by the CGI that went into it.
For anyone who made it through this long review, if it's not clear by now, I highly recommend the film. In fact, I can't wait to go back and see it a second time! It's the kind of intricate and enjoyable film that will only get better with every subsequent viewing. While it hasn't surpassed Cinderella as my favorite Disney live action remake, Beauty and the Beast is easily a close second. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hollister Wish List

It's no surprise that I am obsessed with Hollister, which has certainly changed since my middle school days when it was all low-rise denim and brand name t-shirts. I'm absolutely in love with their new collection for spring and summer and wanted to share some of my faves pieces with you all!


I love this black "Icon Popover" shirt, which would look great tucked into jean shorts or a colorful skirt.


Florals for spring? Groundbreaking, I know, but this romper is absolutely lovely and comes in three different floral prints.


Lately, I have been loving long skirts and the button front is so popular.


This smocked off the shoulder romper is so unique; I actually haven't seen anything like it!


I love this peplum cami, which would pair nicely with jeans now and shorts later in the hot weather.

Are you loving Hollister's latest collection? Let me know in the comments down below and tell me what stores are your favorites! x

Monday, March 13, 2017

Review: Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack

Ever since it was released, I've been listening to nothing but the Beauty and the Beast live action soundtrack (okay, well that and Ed Sheeran's latest album). After being quite disappointed by the music of La La Land, I was pleasantly surprised by how lovely everyone sounds on this album. I'm so looking forward to seeing how the new songs from Alan Menken are integrated into the storyline!



Emma Watson has a sweet pleasing voice as Belle. Obviously, she's not a trained singer, but she pulls off the songs well and I love her spunky attitude, especially in "Belle (Reprise)." Dan Stevens sounds remarkably like the original voice of the Beast in "Something There" and sounds wonderful in "Evermore." Both of them carry a lot of emotion within their voices and I think that acting through singing is one of the most important things an actor can do in a movie-musical.

I was also especially pleased with Ewan McGregor as Lumière. Of course, I adore Ewan as Christian in Moulin Rouge so he's one of the people I'm most looking forward to seeing in the film. His "Be Our Guest" is hilarious, as is his French accent. Luke Evans sounds wonderful as Gaston, which isn't surprising considering he started out his career in the West End in shows like Miss Saigon and Avenue Q. Naturally, I'm most excited about Audra McDonald as the Wardrobe and she sounds stunning (like always) on the "Aria."

I was skeptical at first about the new songs being added to the film, particularly as I love the songs that they added to the Broadway musical so much, I didn't think I could like others. I was definitely proven wrong! While I love the Enchanted Objects singing "Days in the Sun," "Evermore" is by far my favorite of the new ones. Both Dan Stevens and Josh Groban (on the special track) sound beautiful singing it and I think the story could use a song at that point of the plot. Anyone else a bit confused about how "How Does a Moment Last Forever (Montmartre)" fits into the film though?

Overall, I highly recommend checking out this cast album either before or after the film releases this Friday, March 17. It has made me even more excited to see the movie (I already have my tickets to see it Sunday!), which I wasn't sure was possible. The album is available on iTunes and Spotify. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go back to listening to "Evermore" on repeat.
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