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Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Year in Review | Goodbye 2016!

2016 has been quite a year! It was both one of the best years of my life and one of the worst years. I saw an incredible amount of Broadway shows, I spent my first summer in New York, and I made wonderful new friends. I also got my heart broken and my little sister was sick and in the hospital for a few months. It's been a bit of a trying year and I'm hoping that 2017 will be a year of thriving in comparison.

I loved Louise Pentland's Year in Review post, so I wanted to write a little one of my own for sentimental reasons. Let me know how your year was in the comments! x


I started off the year by taking the most amazing class ever: a sociology course about Disney Parks and happiness. I got to spend a week in DisneyWorld and a week in Disneyland with people that I still consider to be among my best friends. I got to visit the actual Walt Disney Studio in Burbank, hold one of Walt Disney's Academy Awards, and talk to the chairman of the company. I feel so blessed that I got to share this experience with such lovely people who I am so grateful to have in my life.


February saw a return to campus and a return to making content for my blog and YouTube channel. (My camera roll is mostly full of Hamilton Valentines Day memes.) I received a response to a letter that I had sent to Lin Manuel Miranda and I'll never forget crying at my mailbox when I saw his signature on it.


March saw me doing a lot of studying outside and appreciating the sunshine. My family spent spring break in New York City, reveling in Hamilton sites and exhibits. I also got to be in "the room where it happens" and I can pinpoint the best moment of my year as the very moment that Lin Manuel Miranda walked out for his first entrance in "Alexander Hamilton." We also got to meet Daveed Diggs, who is a real life angel.


One of the best things about this year was my friendship with Jenna and nothing epitomizes it more than the Disney themed party we threw in April (I dressed as Princess Anna, of course). I presented my thesis research for the first time and spent an amazing day at the zoo with friends. I also fulfilled a dream of many years, one that I thought I would never feel secure enough to do, and dyed the tips of my hair pink. Thanks to Louise Pentland for the inspiration...and the confidence to do it!


In May, I performed a piece of feminist poetry in French for my class and spent a lovely Mother's Day with my family. I finished off the end of my senior year and said goodbye to all my friends to move home for a couple of weeks, before my mom took me up to New York City in the final few days of May.


June was the beginning of my whirlwind summer in New York. I became super close with my roommates (Kimmy, Kendal, and MaryClaire) and we had so many adventures (including a bottomless mimosa brunch on the day of Pride that proved that there is such a thing as too many mimosas). I finally saw Laura Benanti perform in She Loves Me and met Zachary Levi (for the first time). I saw other amazing shows (Bright Star! Daddy Long Legs! Laura Osnes in concert!) and had my best friend visit me. I also fulfilled a lifelong dream by seeing John Owen Jones as Jean Valjean.


I started off the month with an incredible Fourth of July weekend including hanging out with my friend Julie, exploring Central Park and having a picnic, and dragging my roommates to an Alexander Hamilton exhibit. I got to see a New York Pops concert, have my friend Carolyn visit me for a weekend, and go to Coney Island. Julie also introduced me to Finding Neverland, I met Jasmine Cephas Jones on the street outside the Richard Rodgers, and MaryClaire and Kendal and I had a blogger photoshoot in Washington Square Park. Highlights included meeting Bernadette Peters, going to a Ramin Karimloo concert, and doing the meet and greet at Laura Michelle Kelly's concert. Additionally, Zachary Levi recognized me and Julie the fourth and final time I stage-doored She Loves Me, so that's likely going to be my claim to fame forever.


As my first summer in New York was coming to a (tearful!) close, my family came up to visit me. I taught them about rushing shows and we went to Ellis Island (and more Alexander Hamilton exhibits). I also had my second time in the "room where it happens" and finally got to see the amazingly talented Chris Jackson as Washington. Then it was back home to start preparing to move back for my senior year of college.


In September, I started taking my favorite classes I've ever taken (History of Musical Theatre! Acting for Non-Majors!) and was reunited with my friends. I started working for Elon Tonight, my school's comedy sketch show, and found a family of amazing friends. My best friend Andrew and I threw a joint birthday party with a shared theme of "Historical Figures and Jimmy Buffett" so I fulfilled another life dress as Bonnie Parker (modeled half off her real clothing, half off Laura Osnes in Bonnie and Clyde). My family and a few friends and I also went to the screening of Miss Saigon, which made me very excited for the Broadway revival.


October was a month in which my life felt like it went off the rails a bit. The first weekend, I took a trip to Chicago to visit my dad's family and got to see the Hamilton marquis there! While there were some fun things, like a great Halloween party with my girl squad and being an extra on a student film set, it was also a very difficult month. My little sister was sick and I spent a good deal of time going between school and the hospital.


November was a great month because my sister got to come home! We had a lovely Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle and we all had a lot to be thankful for.


December saw not only exam week, but editing week for Elon Tonight. We had our first Elon Tonight premiere in the theatre in our new communications building...and actually had to have two showings! I also performed "Guns and Ships" as part of my final presentation for my History of Musical Theatre class...on a real stage! Then we celebrated a lovely Christmas with our family...and got to see the Cinderella tour! Overall, December was a great month (exam week aside) to end a year that had so many ups and so many downs.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Top Five Book I Read in 2016

I didn't read as many books as I'd hoped to in 2016 (only sixteen out of my goal of twenty), but I absolutely loved some of the ones I did read. I decided to share my five favorites with you, in the order that I read them (because I couldn't possibly rank them!). I'll be tracking my reading again this year on Goodreads with the same goal of twenty books, so definitely friend me so that we can see what books each other are loving! x

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

I held off on reading this book for years because I adore Pride and Prejudice and hate zombie movies. I had no idea that this book is actually a brilliant satire and has so many fun references for Austen fans to the original novel. The author clearly has a strong grasp on the history of Regency England and was incredibly clever in how to blend zombies in. You can read my full review here, but I thought the book was much better than the movie...even though I loved the movie!

Dream a Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher 

Giovanna Fletcher is my absolute favorite author, but her books are somewhat hard to get ahold of from the United States so I was super excited to get this one for my birthday. And it didn't disappoint in any way! A lovely story about a woman who begins dreaming about an old friend of hers she knew at university...only for him to turn up as the new hire in her office! It's also a great commentary on what it's like to remain friends with an ex and the importance of great friends. I highly recommend this book as it was definitely the best realistic fiction I read this year.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Before reading this book, I liked Anna Kendrick because of her hilarious Twitter account and her role in my favorite movie ever (The Last Five Years). Now? I'm obsessed with her. In the best memoir I've ever read, Kendrick reflects on her upbringing as a child actor on Broadway, her move to LA, and how she's learned to navigate Hollywood stardom. She comes across as incredibly relatable and down to earth, while also quirky (in the best sense) and honest.

Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith

This lovely little book tells the story of several passengers on a train journey who share their life stories with each other. Told in alternating perspectives, the novel is completely unlike anything I've ever read before. I picked it up in a sale bin on a whim and I'm so glad that I did.

On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

I couldn't wait to read Carrie Hope Fletcher's first novel and it was even more amazing than I expected. A beautiful story about love, loss, death, and life, it weaves magic into the 'real' world more seamlessly than I've ever seen before. Carrie's prose is beautiful and I fell in love with every single one of the characters. If forced to choose, I would perhaps say that this is my favorite book I read in all of 2016.

Monday, January 2, 2017

17 Goals for 2017

Happy New Year everyone! I, for one, was definitely glad to tell 2016 goodbye. I have a post in the works looking back on this past year, but first I wanted to share my 17 Goals for 2017. Instead of making several New Years resolutions this year (my one resolution is to have courage and be kind), I decided to set 17 more achievable goals to be accomplished in 2017. 

One: No excess spending in the month of January. 
Between all the spending that led up to the holiday season and the amount of gifts I received for Christmas, I feel like I have no reason to buy much in January. Of course, this doesn't include food or birthday gifts for other people...and I might allow myself a cheeky movie ticket or two because I still haven't seen Rogue One or La La Land. I love this goal because it gives me something to focus on in the first month of the year!

Two: Read twenty books.
I track my reading on Goodreads (friend me!) and every year I set a reading challenge. This past year, I only read sixteen out of my goal of twenty so I definitely want to hit twenty this year. I'm starting by rereading one of my favorites, Pride and Prejudice. 

Three: Turn in my thesis. 
This month, I will be writing the majority of my 90-100 page history thesis for my honors program at university. In March, I will give a finished version to my thesis committee and by April the product of three long years of work will be finished. Cue my internal screaming.

Four: Go to the gym.
Embarrassing fact: I didn't set foot in our school's gym the entire fall. And the only time I was in the gym in my neighborhood depot building was when my roommate Brian and I walked in there after getting our mail just so that we could say we'd been in it. One of my goals is simply to go to the actual gym even once this year.

Five: Send someone a card for no reason. 
I'm fairly good at remembering to send birthday cards and I sent out a batch of holiday cards every year. But isn't the best mail when you go to your mailbox and find something you didn't expect? Maybe my head was turned by all the She Loves Me and Daddy Long Legs this year, but I want to send someone (or multiple someones!) a card or a letter for absolutely no reason this year. 

Six: Reach 300 subscribers on YouTube. 
This is the one goal I've set that seems completely unobtainable to me right now. I currently have 135 subscribers for my channel so this is asking to more than double that number in a year. As daunting as it seems, I would absolutely love to grow my audience.

Seven: Drink at least one water bottle of water a day.
I need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I'm setting my goal low (one water tumbler a day) but hoping I'll exceed it.

Eight: Learn five dishes that I love to cook.
To be completely honest, I am lost in a kitchen. I typically avoid making dinner for myself because all I know how to make is pasta with sauce from a jar. I'm realizing that in just a few short months, I will be out on my own without a meal plan (HELP!) so I need to learn a solid five simple dishes that I can make for dinner. I would really love to cook myself dinner at least once a week during the spring semester.

Nine: Get a job/internship/fellowship.
As I graduate in May, I have to find some way to support myself after university. I'm currently looking around for jobs, fellowships, and paid internships so if you know of anything in marketing/PR/social media in New York or LA, please do let me know. (I'm particularly looking within the entertainment and theatre industries.) 

Ten: Film at least five collaboration videos for my YouTube channel.
I have loved filming videos with my friends Fletcher and Lexi and I want to do more collabs this year! Of course, I'd love to get some in with my uni friends before I graduate but who knows who I could film with when I move to a new city...

Eleven: Create a PR guide for Elon Tonight.
As I'll be passing on the role of Head of PR for the TV show I work for at my university at the end of the spring, I want to make a guide for my successor that explains everything from the social media account passwords to a working list of PR team members to how I've done everything thus far. I think the transition will be much easier if they have a handy Word document they can consult to get things started. 

Twelve: Go to an exercise class.
I always talk about how I would love to go to a SoulCycle, barre, or Zumba class and yet I never do. Since I'll hopefully be moving to a big city in the fall where they will have these classes in abundance, I want to commit to going to at least one.

Thirteen: Graduate magna cum laude.
I graduate in late May this year and thus far, I'm on track to graduate magna cum laude (the middle of the honors rankings, dependent on your GPA). I hope to achieve this, as I know that it would make all the family who are traveling to see me get my diploma proud! 

Fourteen: Post a blog post once a week for three months straight.
I'm hoping to start this one right away. I'm planning on going back to my normal schedule of two posts a week, plus one YouTube video and a weekly vlog, but I want to see if I can go three months without missing a single week. 

Fifteen: Visit a North Carolina historical site I've never been to. 
As much as I love touristy historical sites when I'm traveling, it's a shame that I haven't been to more in my own home state. I would love to go to go to Stagville Plantation or Bennett Place, but if anyone has suggestions, let me know! 

Sixteen: Work out twice a week for one month.
I know that a total of eight workouts wouldn't seem like a lot to some people, but in all the chaos of this past fall, I haven't worked out once. I'm hoping that achieving this goal would help me set a routine to continue it for many more months.

Seventeen: Try meditating every day for a week.
One of my goals for 2016 was to take better care of my mental health and I want to keep working on this in 2017. I think that I would definitely benefit from meditation so I want to find an app that I like and try doing it every day for a week to see if it works for me. 

I can't wait to start checking these goals off my list! What are your New Year Resolutions or goals for 2017? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter. x

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Theatre Lover Gift Guide

There are so many gift guides floating around right now (one of the best parts of Vlogmas/Blogmas), so I decided to compile a little one of seven great gifts for the theatre nerd in your life...or for you to put on your holiday wish list! 

None of these are that expensive, so they make perfect presents for friends or siblings. Thursday, I'll upload a video on the same topic in case you want to know more!

Red Bubble Musical Theatre Stickers 
There's nothing I love more than a cute personalized sticker that put on my laptop or a notebook and RedBubble has the best selection. You can find stickers for everything from Hamilton to Les Mis to Bonnie and Clyde. These make a great addition to a present and can also be slipped inside a holiday card. 

Gagged Chokers
Courtney Reed, who plays Jasmine in Aladdin, and a few of her friends have an online store for homemade chokers. I own one myself and ordered three for friends as Christmas presents. They're incredibly well made made and not expensive for a handmade item. They currently have a holiday collection that is absolutely beautiful. 

A Dozen Schmackary's Cookies
If you've been to New York City and you haven't been to Schmackary's, you are missing out. Schmackary's is a cookie store with specialized flavors just a few blocks away from Times Square. The best news is that the ship nationwide and $25 for a dozen of these cookies is well worth it.

When I introduced Kendal to Schmackary's
our first weekend in New York City

Broadway Coloring Book 
Coloring books are very on trend right now so what could be better than a Broadway coloring book? I personally would absolutely love to color in one of these. 

Hamilton Mixtape
The Hamilton Mixtape would make an amazing gift for anyone who is a theatre fan...or even someone who isn't. It features so many different artists from John Legend to Sia to Wiz Khalifa with new songs and covers from Hamilton

Andrew Chappelle Mug 
Hamilton fans might like one of cast member (and super swing) Andrew Chappelle's mugs or T-shirts. Andrew is definitely a fan favorite and his merchandise is utterly adorable...just like him! 

Leslie Odom Jr.'s Christmas Album
Leslie Odom Jr. released an absolutely beautiful Christmas album called "Simply Christmas" last month. (I even broke my no Christmas music before Thanksgiving rule for it!) It features jazzy renditions of songs like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas." It's a lovely album that I think any theatre fan would love to listen to during the holiday season.

Make sure to leave your suggestions for gifts for theatre fans in the comments below! x

Friday, December 2, 2016

Review: She Loves Me Screening

On December 1, Fathom Events and Broadway HD paired up to screen the filmed version of Roundabout's production She Loves Me to movie theaters across the United States. I could write an entire post (and probably will at some point in the next few months) about how important screenings and livestreamings are for making theatre more accessible and less elitist. I actually saw the production four times this summer (review) and watched the livestream as it occurred, but I still immediately jumped on tickets to see it in the cinema.

Simply put, watching She Loves Me last night felt like greeting a dear friend. I'll never be over how amazingly detailed and beautiful the costumes and set were for this show. Amalia's pajamas during the "Vanilla Ice Cream" sequence might just be one of my favorite costumes of all time. The filming of the show was also incredibly well done; it managed to capture every little moment that I wanted to see, even when that actor wasn't the center of attention. It was the best filming of a live show I've ever seen.

It's so secret that Laura Benanti is my favorite Broadway actress and I have become more enamored of her Amalia Bolish every time I've seen the show. My little sister leaned over to me and said "hashtag goals" during "Will He Like Me" and I couldn't agree more. Laura does a fabulous job of combining humor with vulnerability, especially in the café scenes. One thing that I noticed last night that I didn't notice when I saw the show live: how flawless her hair was the entire show.

I've loved Zachary Levi ever since he voiced Flynn Rider and getting to meet him four times at stage door this summer only made me love him more. His George Nowack is incredibly endearing. Zac truly shines in the hilarious (and relatable) "Tonight at Eight" and shows a lovely softer side in the finale scene.

Jane Krakowski is stunning as the unlucky-in-love Ilona Ritter and her "I Resolve" may honestly hold the best acting of the entire show. Gavin Creel is the perfect villain that you love to hate as Steven Kodaly and his "Ilona" and "Grand Knowing You" are showstoppers. (My friends can tell you about how I have a strange habit of doing lunges while singing Ilona. I have no idea where it came from, but I did them all over New York City this summer.)

I truly think that Nicholas Barasch, who plays Arpad, is a future Broadway star. His "Try Me" is frankly one of the best performances of the show and it's astounding to consider how he holds his own in this star-studded cast.

I'm actually considering buying a subscription to Broadway HD so that I can have constant access to this show and to support them in their efforts to make Broadway more accessible for everyone. If you didn't get a chance to see this glorious production of She Loves Me at the cinema, then you can watch it now on Broadway HD.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Back to Blogging

It's official: I'm back to blogging. I know that I've been gone from this blog and my YouTube channel for over a month. Between school and my sister being in the hospital, life has been absolutely insane. But now that Hannah is out of the hospital, I can resume my normal blogging schedule!

I'm not participating in Vlogmas exactly, but I will be returning to weekly vlogging and putting up some Christmas-y content every Wednesday or Thursday for the month of December. I'll also (hopefully!) be posting two blog posts a week. But of course, finals are coming so if I miss one, please be understanding!

I can't wait to get out some new content for you all. Let me know if there's anything that you would like to see. x

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Disney Princess Costume Ideas!

Hey friends! I made a video about four simple and easy Disney Princess costumes you could wear for Halloween. Hope you enjoy. x

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Where Have I Been?

Hi there, readers. (If you're still there.)

I know that I've been a bit missing in action lately. I definitely am trying to get back to creating regular content, but my senior year has been a bit crazy thus far. I'm:

  • taking four classes (including a communications capstone course with a large research project)
  • finishing up my thesis
  • Head of PR for our school's comedy sketch show
  • the History Department student worker
  • a writer for (album critic and recapper of Supergirl)
  • secretary of two different honors societies 
  • was recently put in charge of social media and publicity for our theatre club
  • am somehow managing to upload two YouTube videos a week 
Plus, I'm trying to make plenty of time for friends since it's our last year together! 

If you would like to keep up with what I do aside from this blog, I thought I would link you to a couple of things that I work on. 

I upload to my YouTube channel on Wednesdays/Thursdays and Sundays.

I run Elon Tonight's Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (elon.tonight). 

My writer's page for BroadwayWorld has all the articles that I write.

And of course, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram

Let me know what you're up to in the comments below! 
Nicole xxx

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: Kinky Boots Tour! (Durham, NC)

For my birthday present, I asked my parents for tickets to the Kinky Boots tour because I absolutely love the show and the guy playing Charlie Price currently is an alum from my university. I was lucky enough to see Kinky Boots this summer on Broadway (read my review here), but I think that the tour is every bit as good!

The tour is an impressive recreation of the Broadway show, if not even better. I was particularly impressed by Aaron Walpole as Don and Tiffany Engen as Lauren. Tiffany's "The History of Wrong Guys" had the audience laughing the entire time, but she managed to infuse her performance with humanity too. I definitely could relate to her Lauren.

J. Harrison Ghee was incredible as Lola in his singing, acting, and dancing. His "Land of Lola" was absolutely stunning (if only I could dance like he can!), but his "Hold Me In Your Heart" made me and much of the audience cry. Lola's humor isn't something that just any actor can pull off, but he certainly did. As he's from Fayetteville (not far from the DPAC theater), the audience went a bit crazy at the line "I'm from just down the road."

One of the main reasons that I wanted to see the tour was to see Adam Kaplan as Charlie Price. Adam graduated from Elon University a few years before I started there and I was able to see him in the ensemble of Newsies a few years back.

Adam was lovely as Charlie Price, a character that's a bit difficult at times to make likable. Adam seemed much younger than most Charlie Prices I've seen, which I think added to the character's vulnerability. Not only were Adam's vocals amazing, but his acting showed Charlie's struggles with himself and his father so well.

My sister, Hannah, with Adam 
Me with Adam!
I was lucky enough to get to chat with Adam at stage door and he was very sweet. We had a lovely chat about Elon...and how happy he was to get to go to Cookout while here in North Carolina!

If the Kinky Boots tour is coming anywhere near you, definitely go see it! It has an important message that everyone should hear and it is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Room Tour

I finally got my room tour put together to show all of you! Hope you enjoy and feel free to ask me where anything is from. x

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