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Monday, February 20, 2017

Top Ten YouTubers

In addition to theatre, I'm absolutely obsessed with YouTube. Not only do I have my own channel, but I also spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos. Upon reflecting on this list, I realized I watch mainly British vloggers!

I wanted to share my top ten favorite channels with all of you. Let me know who your favorites are in the description box below! x

The Michelaks
Hannah and Stef Michelak are a lovely couple living in London with their adorable son, Grayson, and absolutely my favorite family vloggers. Not only are they a cute family, but they're incredibly talented film makers. The editing in their weekly vlogs is better than most movies I see! Their recent Disney World vlog is definitely in my top ten YouTube videos of all time.

Fashion Mumblr
I actually discovered Josie's channel through a suggestion of Hannah Michelak. Another London-based vlogger, Josie films super aesthetically pleasing beauty and fashion videos. One of the things that I love most is how her knowledge from studying at the London College of Fashion shows through in her videos. I also adore her beautiful editing, posh style, and great sense of humor.

Anyone who watches YouTube most likely knows Zoe Sugg, one of the most popular British YouTubers. Zoe was the first vlogger I ever watched and remains my absolute favorite to this day. She's the person whose videos I can count on to always make me happy.

Louise Pentland
Louise Pentland is like the older sister that you always wanted. Her videos are always hilarious and inspiring and her little girl, Darcy, is one of the cutest children I've ever seen. I also will always have a soft spot in my heart for Louise because my sister and I got to meet her at Vidcon a few summers ago.

Carrie Hope Fletcher
Carrie is one of my favorite stage actresses, YouTubers, and authors. I was lucky enough to see Carrie as Eponine in Les Mis in the West End three different times and I count her novel and self-help books amongst my all-time faves. However, I first discovered her through her YouTube channel where she posts covers, Disney videos, and more!

Lucy Moon
I've only been watching Lucy's videos for a couple of months, but I'm absolutely in love with them. Lucy is that cool hip girl that I wish I could be (and would love to be friends with). While she also films beautiful covers and artsy videos, I feel like I've learned so much from her about personal growth and life.

If you love Disney princesses, you will love Sophie. Not just because she films lovely Disney videos, but because she seems like an actual princess! She has a girly aesthetic that I adore and I love seeing her fashion hauls and videos about Disney.

You might recognize Maxwell Glick from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries or other YouTube series like Muzzled the Musical. But I adore Max's channel for his Disney World and Disneyland videos, which are incredibly well made and creative. I also love Max because my sister and I went to his meet-up at Vidcon and he was so incredibly kind.

I've loved Mary Kate Wiles since she played Lydia Bennet on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Not only is she a talented actress, but she has an amazing YouTube channel. She posts lots of videos that show the behind-the-scenes of being a struggling actress in LA, which I find so interesting.

Rebecca Smile
Rebecca is a Scottish YouTubers whose channel is full of Disney videos and Primark hauls. I love Rebecca's chatty style of filming, Disney expertise, and lovely makeup tutorials.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Review: Newsies "Movie"

Ever since I saw it on Broadway several years ago, Newsies has been one of my favorite musicals. So I was absolutely thrilled when they announced that they were filming it to release to cinemas, especially because I had always wanted to see the original Broadway cast with Jeremy Jordan and Kara Lindsay. 

For those who may not know, Newsies is based on the 1992 Disney film of the same name which depicts a fictionalized account of the Newsboy Strike of 1899. Scrappy Jack Kelly, along with his friends, leads a strike against Mr. Pulitzer himself to stand up for the rights of the young newsboys.

The filmed version absolutely did not disappoint. I thought that it was incredibly well done as the filming style allowed an intimacy that is missing from theatre while still capturing the feel of the show. I particularly loved the filming of the strike scene the descends into a fight as the chaotic style matched the feeling of the scene itself.

The girls all loved the show!
Jeremy Jordan was every bit as stunning as I expected as Jack Kelly. While his vocals undoubtably shine in numbers like "Santa Fe" and "Something to Believe In," it was his acting that impressed me the most. Jordan has a unique ability to pull off comedy and drama equally well, and sometimes within the same minute. The only complaint I could make is that next to the young boys of the tour cast ensemble, Jordan is a bit old for the role of Kelly purely because he was the perfect age when he played it on Broadway.

I had always regretted not getting to see Kara Lindsay as Katherine Plumber and her "Watch What Happens" was one of the highlights of the show. While the song can fall flat in others' hands, there wasn't a dull moment in her performance.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger was suitably adorable as Jack's best friend, Crutchie. They chose to leave in Crutchie's solo, "Letter from the Refuge," which was added for the US tour and I'm so glad they did. It adds a level of realism about children's conditions at the turn of the century and centers Jack's anger in the following scenes.

My favorite character in the show is the intelligent and well-spoken Davey, played by Ben Fankhauser. I thought that he did a smashing job and was the perfect partner to Jordan's fiery Jack Kelly.

Newsies was a wonderful film experience and I hope that they will release it digitally or on DVD in the future so that I can see it again. Make sure to check the Newsies website to see if it's showing at a cinema near you on February 18 or 22.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: Dear Evan Hansen Cast Album

I was already planning on writing a review of the Dear Evan Hansen cast album today since it's all I've been listening to since its digital release on February 3. But once I saw the news that the album debuted at #8 on the Billboard 200, I knew I made the right choice. In fact, it's the highest a cast album has debuted since 1961, joining just three other shows (Hair, Rent, and Hamilton) in the past fifty years to make it to the top ten.

This beautiful album, with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, tells the story of a teenager trying to navigate high school, mental health problems, and a viral story. As soon as I heard that, I knew it was the show for me and honestly my only regret is that I didn't have this album when I was in high school. If you don't know the story, I would recommend looking it up on Wikipedia before listening.

Ben Platt is simply stunning as Evan Hansen in songs like "For Forever" and "If I Could Tell Her." His performance on "Words Fail" brings me to tears every time I hear it and of course, "Waving through a Window" is breathtaking. I've never heard anything that so perfectly captured that feeling of being small and insignificant that so many of us experienced in high school.

Laura Dreyfuss shines as Connor Murphy's sister, Zoe, especially in "Only Us." Will Roland and Mike Faist are absolutely hilarious as Jared and Connor in "Sincerely, Me," which has actually become one of my favorite songs.

Other favorites include the haunting "Requiem" and inspiring "You Will Be Found."

I would highly recommend this album to anyone who remembers their own rough days in high school, is passionate about mental health, or loves Pasek and Paul's other work. Have you been listening to Dear Evan Hansen? If so, let me know your favorite song in the comments below.

Friday, February 10, 2017

How to Make the Most of Your Study Abroad Experience

The most important that you can do when you study abroad is do your best to make the most of your experience. If you're anything like me, then you'll feel incredibly lucky to be spending a summer or semester abroad and want to do everything that you can. I sometimes feel like I didn't take advantage of where I was enough when I was in Scotland, but I definitely did this past summer in New York City. Here are some of my tips for how to make the most of your experience!

Get outside of your comfort zone.
When you choose to study abroad, you have to accept that you're going to have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. For me, just going to St Andrews where I didn't know anyone was out of my comfort zone! I also tried to do things I might not have at home, like auditioning for a play and going to Catholic services with my friend.

Embrace the culture. 
Any new place you go has a unique culture. Even spending the summer in New York City, I had to get used to the culture of "the grind." I find that it's better to fully embrace the culture in every way you can, whether that means going out to the pub with your friends in the evening in the UK or doing your grocery shopping every other day instead of one big shop.

Try new foods!
I'm undeniably a foodie, so I absolutely adored trying new foods while I was abroad. Some of the things that I tried, like chips (or fries, if you're in the US) with curry sauce or new Indian foods, surprised me with how much I loved them. And even the things I hated (marmite, I'm looking at you), I'm so glad that I tried.

Travel as much as you can.
One thing I regret is that I didn't make more of an effort to travel while I was in Scotland because now I don't have that kind of opportunity. Even just going to the neighboring town of Dundee for a few hours when I wasn't busy was fun for me because it gave me the chance to see a different part of Scotland than I previously knew about.

In case you missed it, earlier this week I wrote a post on how to choose a study abroad program and posted a video about my experience studying abroad at the University of St Andrews. My friend Kendal also wrote a post on five study abroad must haves!

Monday, February 6, 2017

How to Pick a Study Abroad Program

This week, I wanted to share some tips on studying abroad as I know a lot of people are beginning their semesters abroad around this time. I've studied abroad three times: I spent a semester at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, a summer at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, and this past summer in New York City (technically called a Study USA at my university).

I have a video about my experience at St Andrews going up on Wednesday, so for today I thought I would share my tips for how to go about picking a program. Hopefully these questions can help guide you through your process if you're thinking about studying abroad!

1. Do you want to go abroad or stay domestic? 
One of the first choices that you'll have to make is whether you want to go out of the country or stay within the United States. A lot of schools, mine included, have domestic programs where you can spend a semester in places like New York, Los Angeles, or Washington DC.

2. Do you want to stay in the English-speaking world or not?
The next thing you need to decide is if you are willing to go to a country where you don't speak the language. Obviously, if you speak a foreign language, studying abroad is a great way to fully immerse yourself in it.

3. What kind of experience do you want? 
Look at the programs offered by your university. Would you rather do a homestay or live on a campus? Would you want to do something like Semester at Sea or be a student at a normal university?

4. Does the program have the classes you need? 
With many majors, where you will study abroad is partially determined by what programs offer the classes that you need. If possible, save some general requirements to take while you're abroad so you don't have to worry.

5. Can you talk to someone from your school who has done the program?
The only way to truly get a feeling for a program is to talk to someone who did it. Ask your school's study abroad center if they can get you in touch with other students who have gone there before you.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Top 10 Theatre Experiences of 2016

We're already a month into 2017 (how did that happen?), but I wanted to look back on my Top Ten Theatre Experiences of 2016. I was so lucky to spend the summer in New York City, where I could easily see shows at discounted rates. It was hard to narrow this list down to ten, but I think these were the highlights (in my particular order).

Let me know what your top theatre experiences of the year were in the comments!


I have to admit that nothing quite compares to Hamilton. I was extremely lucky to get to see it in both March (with the original cast) and in August (with some of the original cast and some replacement cast). If I had to pick one top theatre experience of 2016, I would choose seeing Lin Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton because it was definitely one of the most magical moments of my life.

Bright Star
I knew very little about Bright Star other than that it was set in North Carolina and starred Paul Alexander Nolan when I got rush tickets to see it. It was one of the best shows that I've ever seen and one of the best stage door experiences I've ever had. Everyone in the cast was SO nice! I'm so sad that this show closed (I was actually there the night closing was announced), but I'm definitely looking forward to the US Tour.

Laura Michelle Kelly's "All I Know Now" Concert 

It was hard for me to leave Finding Neverland off of this list, but I had to include going to Laura Michelle Kelly's concert and meet-and-greet. It was such a wonderful experience to share with my friends Kimmy and Julie and Laura was so incredibly kind. She even gave us candy!

Seeing Laura Benanti (in She Loves Me
Laura Benanti has been my favorite Broadway actress for years and I adore her witty and intelligent tweets. So getting to see her four times in She Loves Me this summer was absolutely wonderful (as was meeting Zachary Levi four times at stage door!). I feel so lucky that I got to see this incredible show so many times and that I got to witness Laura Benanti sing "Vanilla Ice Cream" in person.

Getting a backstage tour at the US Tour of Cinderella
My little sister, Hannah, and I had the very special treat of getting a backstage tour of Cinderella at DPAC. Johnny Link (our Prince Topher) and Tatyana Lubov (the lovely Ella herself!) showed us around the stage area and even let us stand on the palace steps! It was truly a dream come true.

Seeing my first show off-Broadway (Daddy Long Legs)
I had never seen a show off Broadway before this summer when I went to see Daddy Long Legs on the recommendation of a friend. I am so infinitely glad that I did because the album became the soundtrack to my summer. This charming little show was so well suited to its intimate venue and I will always treasure having seen it.

Seeing John Owen Jones as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables

I have wanted to see John Owen Jones as Jean Valjean for years and this summer I got to not once, but twice. His Valjean was absolutely every bit as great as I expected...and better! Hearing him sing "Bring Him Home" was honestly a spiritual experience for me.

Taking an acting class
This fall, I took Acting for Non-Majors with my friend, Jenna, and we had such an amazing time. Not only did I get to perform a scene from an incredible and challenging play, The Proof; I also got to do a monologue that a friend of mine wrote for a show called Bridge Over Oblivion. It was a challenge for me because I hadn't done any acting since high school, but it reminded me how much I used to love performing.

Meeting Daveed Diggs
There are no words to describe how incredible Daveed was as Lafayette/Jefferson in Hamilton when I saw him in March. He was also an absolute sweetheart at stage door and happily chatted with me and my family. My sister's lock screen for her phone is still their selfie! An absolute gent and someone that I feel honored I got to meet.

Ramin Karimloo's Broadgrass Concert

I'm not sure if I ever mentioned it on this blog before, but Ramin Karimloo was the reason I got into theatre in early high school after seeing the Les Mis concert video. So getting to see his Broadgrass concert (with special guests Andrew Kober and Tam Mutu, who are two of my favorite actors) was such a treat. I'm not afraid to admit that I cried because it felt like everything was coming full circle!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Playlists for the Ladies of Hamilton

I recently downloaded Spotify (late to the game, I know) and immediately started making playlists based on the ladies of Hamilton. I decided to center them around Eliza, Angelica, and Maria Reynolds as the three female characters with the strongest aesthetics. I'm still crafting them (and honestly don't know enough non-musical theatre music), so if you have suggestions for songs to add to any of them, please leave them in the comments below!

Eliza Schuyler | and my heart went boom 
Eliza's playlist is centered around cute love songs and that helpless feeling when you're falling for someone. It's the happiest and lightest of the three playlists.

Angelica Schuyler | i will never be satisfied 
I decided to make Angelica's playlist a collection of girl power jams, sprinkled with a few songs that hint at her complicated relationship with Alexander Hamilton. If you need to pump yourself up, this is the one to choose! 

Maria Reynolds | someone under stress meets someone looking pretty 
For Maria, I chose sultry songs and anything that hints at being a mess or going after a guy that you shouldn't. I know that this is going to become my playlist for when I'm doing my makeup to get ready to go out to a party.

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Jane Austen Favorites!

To round out my content this week celebrating the anniversary of Pride and Prejudice on Sunday, I wanted to share some of my Jane Austen favorites. I'll admit that I'm unfamiliar with Persuasion and Mansfield Park, so this will be based on her other four novels.

Favorite Cad: Mr. Willoughby 

While Wickham and Frank Churchill have little more than their good looks to recommend them, I always thought that Willoughby was absolutely dreamy. He can quote Shakespeare's Sonnets, he's funny, and he carries Marianne home in the rain when she sprains her ankle? If it weren't for his mercenary ways and tendency to ghost girls, he would be perfect.

Favorite Mean Girl: Isabelle Thorpe 

While Caroline Bingley may be the iconic mean girl, Isabelle Thorpe is much worse because she's so much more convincing in trying to befriend Catherine. She's also incredibly entertaining in her scandalous ways and has some of the funniest remarks.

Favorite Sibling Relationship: The Bennet Sisters

While the Dashwood sisters are lovely, there's no one as iconic as the Bennet sisters. Whether it's in the original book or the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I think the true focus of Pride and Prejudice is always the relationship between them.

Favorite Relationship: Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley

I've always preferred Jane and Bingley's relationship to Darcy and Elizabeth's (likely because I'm such a non-confrontational person). I love the idea that they're smitten as soon as they meet and are only ever pulled apart by outside forces. And it's a lovely idea that the guy who ghosts you might one day return to sweep you off your feet. I love how much Bingley unapologetically admires Jane...and isn't afraid for anyone to know.

Favorite Heroine: Emma Woodhouse

While Jane Austen thought that no one would ever love Emma Woodhouse, I've loved her since I first read Emma when I was thirteen. Emma is delightfully flawed, but always has the best of intentions. I identify with her need to try to take care of her friends and unfortunate inability to see when she's wrong.

Favorite Hero: Mr. Knightley 

While Mr. Tilney and Mr. Bingley both were serious contenders for this, after Emma Approved there could be no question about who my favorite Austen man was. Knightley is supportive, intelligent, and kind in addition to being an attractive and successful man. He always wants what's best for Emma, but he's not afraid to tell her when she's being unkind. He'll always have my heart.

Who are your Austen favorites? Do you agree or disagree with mine? Let me know in the comments down below. x

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Happy Birthday Pride and Prejudice!

In honor of Pride and Prejudice's birthday, I filmed a little video rambling about how much I love it and giving some suggestions (YouTube series! books! places!) for other people who love it as much as I do.

Monday, January 23, 2017

An Ode to Jane Bennet

This week, in order to celebrate the anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, I decided to do some Jane Austen themed content. Jane Austen is absolutely my favorite of the classic authors and I feel like so much of my growth as a teenage girl (and even now) was based on her characters. I've gotten to know her characters through books, movies, and Pemberley Digital YouTube series. This month, I've been rereading Pride and Prejudice and it never fails to impress me how her stories and especially the people she created have withstood the test of time.

As a young girl, I idolized Elizabeth Bennet as most young girls do. I may write an entire post at some point about how I transitioned from admiring and trying to emulate characters like Elizabeth Bennet and Jo March to recognizing that it's okay to be a Jane Bennet or a Meg March. Because as time went on, I realized that I'm not the Elizabeth Bennet and nor do I want to be.

I'm not saying that I don't like Elizabeth Bennet because I do. In fact, I find myself drawn to friends who remind me of her (hi Jenna, MaryClaire, Lucy!). But in my later high school years, I realized that I'm more of a combination of Jane Bennet and Emma Woodhouse from Emma. I'm always dismayed at the reaction I get when I tell people that Jane Bennet is one of my favorite female characters of all time.

I'd like to make an argument for why Jane Bennet is an incredibly lovely person that young women should want to emulate.

She is so kind.
One of Jane's main characteristics is that she is kind in a very live-action Cinderella way. She thinks of others' feelings, is sympathetic to her younger sisters, always listens to Lizzy's troubles, and endures her mother better than any of the rest of the Bennet girls. She is arguably the only character in all of Pride and Prejudice who never hurts someone else. Shouldn't we all aspire to that?

She is nice without losing her ability to stand up for herself.
Jane isn't without a sense of humor or a backbone. While she sees the best in everyone, she also is willing to admit that Caroline Bingley is a snake by the end of the book. One of my favorite lines in all of Pride and Prejudice is in Chapter XVII when Jane tells Elizabeth, "Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of his opinion." (And, for the record, she's right that Mr. Darcy isn't as terrible as Wickham says he is.)

She is so much more than beautiful. 
I admire how Jane deals with her beauty for she doesn't let it define her, but she also doesn't contradict it. I think that many girls we see in the media aren't allowed to accept a compliment to their looks, which is a terrible thing to teach young women. Jane never contradicts her mother's comments about her looks, but she also focuses on being kind.

She has great taste in guys (trust me). 
In my opinion, Mr. Bingley is a much better choice than Mr. Darcy. Shocking? I know. But, let's be honest, the Darcys of the world are actually just brooding guys who think they're too cool to call you back. I appreciate Bingley's open admiration, honesty, and good naturedness more than Darcy's temperament regardless of how nice Pemberley is.

Do any of you love Jane Bennet as much as I do? Who is your favorite Jane Austen character? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter! x

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