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Sunday, November 19, 2017

What I Did This Week: November 13-19

This week was a crazy week for me! I saw three different shows (and a movie!) and had a lot going on with class and work as well. I decided to add another category onto these posts, BroadwayWorld, as a place to share with you the articles that I've written for them each week and separate the shows I review from the ones I see for myself personally.

On Corinne's suggestion, I went to see Apologia on Monday night which starred Stockard Channing, Laura Carmichael, and Freema Agyeman. It closed on the 18th, so I realized that I needed to get on it if I wanted to see it and wow, am I glad that I did. It's a stunning family drama that largely deals with the issue of the sacrifices that the family matriarch has made for her career as an art historian. The entire cast was stunning and proved that, unlike some celebrity casting, each of them was perfectly suited to their role.

On Wednesday night, I returned to one of my favorite shows, Kinky Boots. I absolutely adore this show and when I heard that the Charlie Price understudy, Jordan Fox, was on, I knew I had to go. I was lucky enough to win the TodayTix lottery and get the very middle seat of the front row. I plan on doing a full review of Jordan's Charlie, but for now, I'll just say that he was definitely one of the best I've ever seen. He managed to make Charlie likable the entire way through...which I've never seen before!

Heritage Sites & Museums
On Monday, I went to the British Library exhibit about Harry Potter and the history of magic. If you want to go, I recommend buying your tickets far in advance because it does sell out far in advance (we booked our tickets over two weeks before). It's well worth seeing as it has a combination of objects related to the history of magic (including actual cauldrons!) and things like J.K. Rowling's original sketches and drafts. More than that, it's beautifully designed and has some lovely interactive bits as well.

I went to see a show at the Saatchi Gallery called Inside Pussy Riot on Thursday afternoon. You can read my full review for BroadwayWorld here, but it's a completely immersive on your feet production about the Russian feminist punk rock group, Pussy Riot. It's completely different from anything I've ever experienced before and if I'm perfectly honest, a bit too much for me, but also very good for what it is.

I interviewed Robert Hastie, the artistic director of Sheffield Theatres on Wednesday and he was absolutely lovely. He's done some amazing work and was quite eloquent in the interview as we spoke about directing and his upcoming production of The Wizard of Oz. I'm really looking forward to seeing The York Realist which he's directing at the Donmar Warehouse in the spring. You can read the interview here.

On Friday, I interviewed Marisha Wallace who is moving from being the alternate to the principal Effie in Dreamgirls and also is releasing her own Christmas album. She had some great comments about being an alternate to a celebrity and about the need to return to real music. I also loved talking to her because she's also from the Raleigh area of North Carolina! You can read that interview here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday! It seems like this fall is flying by and it will be December before you know it.

1) Speaking of December, Tony Howell put up his gift guide geared towards creative people. If you love doing your Christmas shopping a bit early like I do, this is amazing!

2) Has anyone else seen the Murder on the Orient Express movie yet? Leslie Odom Jr. gave such an incredible performance in it! I love this "Which Murder on the Orient Express Character are You?" quiz from Buzzfeed.

3) Some of the biggest news on Broadway this week is that Come From Away is being made into a film!

4) Full casting and US transfer dates have been announced by the Old Vic production of A Long Day's Journey into Night. I am definitely planning on trying to get a ticket to see it!

5) I was lucky enough to be at Carolyn Maitland's #SongsChosenByYou concert at the Zedel a couple of weekends ago. West End Video put up this video of her jazzy rendition of "Proud of Your Boy" from Aladdin and it's stunning.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What I Did This Week: November 6-12

Last week was an exciting week because it was my Reading Week -- a week meant to give you time to catch up on reading and start planning on essay. Well, I don't think any of my classmates or I thought it meant that...a lot of people in my program went traveling, while I explored some of London and took a day trip out to Brighton!

On Monday, I got to help out BroadwayWorld at a press junket for Glengarry Glen Ross. You can watch the video put together from the footage I worked on here. (And yes, I met Christian Slater and he was incredibly nice.)

Corinne and I went to see the Royal Shakespeare Company Coriolanus at the Barbican, where it transferred to after its run in Stratford-upon-Avon. We were actually both quite unimpressed with the production; it seemed a bit lackluster and tame for such a bloody, exciting play.

I also went back to see Venus in Fur again with my friend Rhiannon. The play definitely seems even better now than it did the first time around and I am still floored by Natalie Dormer and David Oakes. It was quite the experience to see it from the front row! You can read my review from the first time I saw the show here

This week I also did an interview with two of the stars of the Hackney Empire panto this year, Cinderella. They were both absolutely lovely and I'm looking forward to seeing the panto to review it for BroadwayWorld next week. You can read the interview here

I don't often go to the cinema to see a film (they're expensive these days!), but I had to go to see Murder on the Orient Express. I absolutely loved the book by Agatha Christie when I read it in September and I'll see anything directed by Kenneth Branagh. I was so impressed by this movie, especially the performances by Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leslie Odom Jr., and Daisy Ridley. I will definitely be buying the DVD for this one.

Heritage Sites
I had my orientation and first shift at the Charles Dickens Museum this past week. I absolutely love this little museum that is located in the only surviving London residence of author Charles Dickens. It's a charming little museum and has an impressive amount of Dickens's belongings, including the only piece of his clothing known to have survived. I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in London and not just because I'm a volunteer there.

I went to the Banqueting House for the first time this past week. It's one of the Historic Royal Palaces so I get in for free on my membership. If you're a member, I would definitely recommend going because it's gorgeous and quite interesting. However, as it's only really two rooms I'm not sure that I would recommend going if you had to pay the fee to get in. However, it's definitely beautiful and has a great audio guide. The structure is the only surviving part of the Palace of Whitechapel. You can see more photos in my blog post about it here.

Like I said, I went out to Brighton for the day on Friday and went to the Royal Pavilion there. As a matter of fact, I ended up buying a membership so that I can go back! It's a fascinating palace with its Indian-inspired exterior and Chinese-inspired interiors. The exhibits center around its two most important residents, George IV (who lived there when he was Prince Regent) and Queen Victoria. It also has a fascinating history as a hospital for Indian soldiers during World War I.

I wasn't sure what category to put this under, but I attended a special performance for Remembrance Day on Sunday at the National Portrait Gallery. "In Remembrance" was a performance of World War I poetry and songs by four actors. It was a great experience and felt nice to do something to commemorate the holiday.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What I Did This Week: October 30-November 5

I'm excited to announce a new series for this blog called What I Did This Week. I was reading Jim Chapman's blog and he does a weekly post called "What I Got Up To." Now, I won't be sharing all that I'm doing because you can find that on my London blog, but I wanted to share with you all of the cultural events and sites that I visit each week.

I thought it might be nice for anyone who wants to or is planning on moving to London to see what the city has to offer in terms of heritage and arts. It will also be a place for me to share the reviews I write for BroadwayWorld. I'll normally be posting on Sundays or Monday mornings, but this week's just got a little behind.

Diary of a Nobody, King's Head Theatre
On Thursday, I saw the delightful Victorian comedy Diary of a Nobody at the King's Head Theatre up by Angel Islington. It's an impressive little shown with four actors playing 45 characters. It was actually my first show as a member of the press and you can read my full review for BroadwayWorld UK here.

West End Wilma Awards
On Friday, I got to attend the fourth annual West End Wilma award show. Run by one of the most successful theatre blogs, it's a great time for people from all areas of the industry to come together and enjoy a fun afternoon in the lovely events space in the Prince of Wales Theatre. There's nothing like realizing that you're sat in front of Rachel Tucker only when she stands up to get her award.

Rob Houchen at the Theatre Café 
While I went to Rob Houchen's EP launch the weekend before, I also couldn't resist going down to see his small set at the Theatre Café. I highly recommend you check out Rob's new album, "Within Reach," on iTunes. (I'm actually listening to it as I write this.) Rob's got a lovely voice and he's also proven himself to be a great songwriter.

St Albans Cathedral 
On Sunday, I went out to St Albans to visit a friend of mine who's also an Elon alumna. She showed me around the charming town and the cathedral where she works. I also hear St Albans Cathedral cited as a great day trip from London and I couldn't agree more. Only a half hour outside of London and surrounded by a delightful town full of fun shops and restaurants, the cathedral has a history that dates back to Roman times. I put up lots of photos and recounted as much of her tour as I could remember in my blog post.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Can you believe that it's already November? It feels like October absolutely flew by.

1) Want to take a quiz that will tell you which Disney Princess would play you in a movie about your life? Of course you do!

2) I found a super helpful website called "How Long to Read This" where you can enter a book title and it tells you how long on average it takes to read it. Useful for readings for school or just when you want to know how long a book will take.

3) The Lion King on Broadway has made the first Broadway show themed Snapchat filter. You can download it from the link in this article about it. (I'm not saying I sent a bunch of lip-synch snaps of me singing along to "Shadowland" with the Nala filter on, but...)

4) Speaking of The Lion King, this article talks about a cast member who has been in the show since it opened 20 years ago. So impressive!

5) I love the 'Character Study' features that they're doing lately and this one of Gardar Thor who plays the Phantom in the Love Never Dies tour is especially interesting because you get to see his makeup and hair being done for the role.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November Goals

Happy November! Since they don't have Thanksgiving here in London obviously, as far as I'm concerned the Christmas season starts today...

Goal Update - October Goals

1) Find a part-time job. This is something that I'm still working on. I found a volunteer position as a Room Steward at the Charles Dickens Museum, which I am so excited about! I've applied to a few other volunteer positions and have also given a resume to almost every West End theatre in hopes of finding a Front of House job. So fingers crossed that November is the month that something works out!

2) Film some videos and figure out a new set-up. I'm very happy that I've figured out a set-up that works (at least for now) and have gotten a new tripod. In the month of October, I uploaded EIGHT videos to my YouTube channel and gained fourteen subscribers.

3) Stay on top of my reading list. I actually managed to keep up with all my reading for class somehow despite sometimes feeling like I was drowning in it.

4) Do something with a friend at least twice a week. I've made so much progress in the month of October with making friends. I've gotten together with multiple friends, eaten lunch with my classmates often, and even had a sleepover with Corinne.

November Goals

1) Apply to internships. I have already started applying to internships and placements for the spring, but I have many more applications left to do and more internships to find.

2) Catch up on show reviews on my blog and YouTube channel. I've fallen quite behind in my reviewing and need to catch up and then attempt to keep up during the month of November.

3) Learn more about Charles Dickens. This month, I start my position as a volunteer Room Steward at the Charles Dickens Museum and yet I've read astoundingly little Dickens in my time. I've recently bought a book about Dickens and A Tale of Two Cities and I have the DVD of Great Expectations on its way to me.

4) Keep my succulents alive. This might seem silly but one of my succulents died earlier this week and it made me so sad! I'm determined to keep her replacement alive, so here's to hoping I can do it in November.

What are your goals for November? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below. x

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday everyone! Does anyone have fun plans for Halloween? If you're dressing up as a theatre character, I would love it if you tweeted me a photo of your costume. x

1) It was announced that Renée Zellweger will star as Judy Garland in a Rupert Gold led biopic about the famed stage and screen star.

2) In an interview, original RENT star Anthony Rapp said that he's nervous that RENT Live will be "watered down" due to television censoring. I'd been thinking about this too and I'm very curious to see how they'll deal with it.

3) Many theatres in the UK released a joint statement about the theatre industry and its need to take a stand against sexual harassment. I hope that they truly do pursue finding ways to ensure that it isn't allowed to be swept under the rug.

4) This brilliant article from Forbes discusses why there is only one surviving play on Broadway from last season and why plays seem to have such little staying power.

5) I'm SO impressed by the stagey pumpkins that Amy carved. I definitely want to attempt a Hamilton one...Are any of you carving pumpkins for Halloween?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday! Yesterday marked my one month anniversary of moving to London, which seems insane to me.

1) I absolutely loved this interview with David Oakes about his role in Venus in Fur. This interview makes it clear how intelligent he is and he's so humble about how amazing he is in the part.

2) This quiz to determine if your latest man is actually the man of your dreams or if he's Sweeney Todd is hilarious.

3) In case you've not heard, the first block of tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway went on sale...and it didn't go well.

4) BroadwayHD just got a little more accessible. Its subscription fee is lowering to $8.99 a month, as it's partnering with Amazon and Ericsson.

5) This Jeremy Jordan Disney medley is everything I've ever dreamed of -- and more.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review: Venus in Fur starring Natalie Dormer and David Oakes

I was lucky enough to win lottery tickets via the TodayTix app to see Venus in Fur its opening week, starring two of my favorite film and television actors, Natalie Dormer and David Oakes. The show is currently at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, one of my favorite theatres in London, and is only running until December 9th.

It's an electrifying production of David Ives' play which did quite well on Broadway. In a gripping 90 minutes, with no interval, it manages to showcase both its actors to their full potential. It tells the story of a New York playwright/director, Thomas Novachek, who is searching for an actress to play the lead in his new play based on the German novel of the 1870s, Venus in Fur. That novel, by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, inspired the term masochism and tells the story of a tempestuous relationship between Severin and Wanda. When Vanda Jordan, an unschooled, vulgar actress arrives late to her audition, the show really takes off. The actors switch seamlessly between the roles of playwright and actress and the characters they are reading, Severin and Wanda.

The production is simply stunning despite its simplicity. With all the action taking place in one 90 minute stretch, it's amazing that the actors can summon the same energy throughout as neither leave the stage once they've entered it. The two summon British accents for the characters they are reading, while employing New York accents for Novachek and Vanda. Natalie Dormer's brash Brooklyn accent is quite impressive, while David Oakes's more subdued New York accent is unquestionable (as I assured him at stage door). 

Having seen David Oakes as Juan Borgia on The Borgias and as the devilishly handsome and promiscuous Prince Ernest on Victoria, I had high hopes for him which he didn't disappoint in the least. 

He manages to hold his own beside Dormer (no small feat), while never attempting to upstage her. He portrays the tortured playwright with seeming ease and lends him an air of charisma that keeps the audience enthralled. He also manages to bring quite a bit of humor into the role, without losing his intellectual air. 

I also have to say that he was incredibly kind at stage door, spending several minutes talking to each person and signing out their autographs to them personally. We had a nice chat about American accents and the irony in the fact that he has a line about the Borgias in the play. 

Natalie Dormer has been my favorite actress for years, with stunning performances on The Tudors, The Scandalous Lady W, The Riot Club, and Game of Thrones to name a few. (I have never recovered from her character's death on GoT and haven't watched the show since it happened.) 

But her performance as Vanda/Wanda is one of the best I've seen from her. It was incredible getting to watch her live, as she switched effortlessly between the sophisticated poised Wanda and the brash Brooklynite Vanda. This role manages to showcase many sides of Dormer's talent, including comedy which she is surprisingly adept at. Dormer's chemistry with Oakes, and her general charisma on stage, make it difficult to take your eyes off of her.  

I wasn't expecting either actor to stage door so I was pleasantly shocked when I heard that both of them do. Natalie was absolutely lovely, despite it raining which caused issues with pens. She was happy to sign programmes, take photos, and have a little chat with each person there. I was able to tell her that I've admired her work for years and she said that she's so happy to be back on the stage after five years. 

This play is one that I will be returning to at least once, if not twice. It's an intelligent piece that never lets the audience look away with two stunning leads who live up to their lengthy resumes, and then some. In truth, I was so on edge the entire performance, I felt exhausted at the end. (And thus, I can only imagine how Dormer and Oakes feel.) I highly recommend grabbing a ticket to this show if you can make it to London during its run; you won't be disappointed.

You can also check out my video review of the show, paired with my review of Queen Anne:

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday! It's hard to believe that I've already been in London for three weeks now. Classes are fully in swing and I'm even starting to have a handle on the buses. How is October going for all of you?

1. The Stage's annual ticketing survey revealed that for the first time ever, the majority of West End shows are selling their top tickets for over 100 pounds. As someone used to Broadway prices, this still sounds fairly inexpensive especially considering the amount of theatres that offer lotteries or dayseats. However, it's a big deal for the West End as there's been a rapid increase in pricing over the past five years.

2. Amidst all of the horrifying revelations about Harvey Weinstein this past week, the In The Heights creative team have asked for the Weinstein company to give them back the rights to the movie adaption. Let's hope they comply -- and quickly.

3. There's nothing to make you miss New York like a "How Trash Are Your NYC Food Opinions?" quiz. (Dollar pizza beats everything else. Always.)

4. Young Frankenstein had its official opening this week to mixed, but overall positive reviews. The Stage rounded up many of them in this article. I saw the show at the end of September, when it was in previews, and (while a full review is coming) have to say I agree with some of the critics' positive and negative points.

5. I love Instagram takeovers so of course I loved Charlotte Kennedy's for West End Wilma. Charlotte plays Cosette in Les Mis and her takeover was absolutely hilarious and I loved how she managed to involve a majority of the cast in it!

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