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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 BroadwayWorld.com (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

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Summer Favorites!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Let the Weekly Vlogs Begin!

I've decided to do some weekly vlogging during my senior year, so here's some footage from my first week of senior year! Let me know if you like these and want to see more. Another video is coming your way on Wednesday! x

Friday, September 2, 2016

My Goals for Senior Year


It's hard to believe that I've started the final year of my undergraduate degree and that my time at Elon University is dwindling to a close. Of course, I have some goals for some things that I would like to accomplish during my last year here. 

Apply to graduate schools.
I've decided to apply to some graduate programs in London for next year. Thus, I will be completing applications in the fall. I didn't think that I would be doing college applications over again, so the idea of writing a personal statement is quite daunting but I'm excited.  

Finish my thesis (!). 
Is there anything scarier than finishing a project you've been working on for years? I've been working on my history thesis project since my first year and this is the year that I have to finish it and present it at conferences. 

Make the most of what Elon has to offer. 
One thing that living in New York City this summer made me realize is that I will never have access to so much free entertainment as I do this year. I want to see as many speakers, events, and shows as I can because Elon has so much to offer...for free! 

Take care of myself better. 
There's no better time than my last year in college to learn to eat better and work out...especially while I have a beautiful kitchen and a gym in my neighborhood. I also want to make sure that I take care of my mental health this year and find time to relax in my busy schedule. 

Make beautiful memories with friends (or with myself!). 
This is my last year living with so many friends and I need to make sure that I don't let my work get in the way of making memories with these people that I will miss so much after graduation. I also love going to cute coffee shops or going on bookstore runs by myself because you don't have to be with friends to make memories! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

College/University Tips!

I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for getting through your first bit of college (or university, if you're in the UK)!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Back to School Haul!

I wanted to share my back to school stationary haul, full of fun bits from Target! Let me know if you'd like to see other back to school/university themed posts and videos. x

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ranking Broadway Shows: Summer 2016


While I was in New York this summer, I saw twenty one shows and four (Broadway) concerts. Well technically, I saw sixteen different shows because I saw a couple of shows twice and I saw She Loves Me four times (Oops.) Since I was lucky enough to have this experience, I wanted to put together a little ranking of the shows that I saw...some of my choices might surprise you! 

Did you see any of these shows? Let me know what you think in the comments below or tweet me about it! 

16) The Crucible 
Out of all the shows I saw this summer, this is definitely the one that I didn't click with. Which isn't to say that I didn't think it was interesting, I just didn't quite...get it. At least not this staging. (Review coming soon.) 

15) The Rockettes's Spring Spectacular
Despite my fifteen-year dance background, I wasn't overly excited by the Rockettes. It was great to see them, but they couldn't compare to some of the other shows I saw. 

14) American Psycho 
The best thing I can say about American Psycho is that it was definitely ahead of its time. While it was riveting and the cast was very talented, as someone who doesn't like horror or scary movies, this definitely wasn't the show for me. (Review coming soon.) 

13) Troilus and Cressida
Reflecting on it, I realized that I loved the experience of Shakespeare in the Park more than I loved the actual show that I saw. While it was a beautiful production, Troilus and Cressida has definitely not beat out Coriolanus as my favorite Shakespeare production. (Review coming soon.) 

12) God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
What an amazing cast this show had! (I got to live out my dream of seeing Santino Fontana, who voiced Hans in Frozen). However, the show itself seemed a bit jumbled with the Disney-esque music (of course with Alan Menken and Howard Ashman at the helm) at odds with the dark storyline. (Review coming soon.) 

11) Aladdin 
Speaking of Menken and Ashman,  Aladdin is a lovely stage version of a Disney film. While I enjoyed the show, and especially its feminist reimagining of Princess Jasmine played by the wonderful Courtney Reed, I've never been overly fond of the story or its music. (Review coming soon.) 

10) Wicked
Those who know me know that I'm notoriously hard on productions of Wicked because I was spoiled enough to see Gina Beck as Galinda in the West End several years ago. I wouldn't have gone to see Wicked on Broadway if my class hadn't paid for it, but I'm so glad that I did because Rachel Tucker's Elphaba was truly astounding. The show gained the number 10 spot on my list for her "No Good Deed" alone. (Review

9) Kinky Boots
I fell in love with Kinky Boots via the West End cast album last year and was so excited to finally see it live. It's a truly solid production, only getting bumped down to the number 9 spot because Broadway's Charlie Price didn't quite live up to my standards (but perhaps having Killian Donnelly as my standard is unfair). (Review)

8) Something Rotten 
I don't think I've ever laughed as hard during a show as I did during Something Rotten. I'm not usually one for comedies, but Christian Borle as Shakespeare won me over. (Review

7) The Color Purple
It should be no surprise that Cynthia Erivo's performance guaranteed this show a high ranking. Plus two of my faves, Kyle Scatliffe and Heather Headley? I would see this show again in a heartbeat. (Review coming soon.) 

6) Les Miserables
If I were ranking this list based on the shows alone and not the productions, Les Mis would have the number 2 spot (with Hamilton in the lead of course). While I still prefer the West End blocking with the turntable, this Broadway cast is stunning and seeing John Owen Jones as Valjean fulfilled a dream of many years for me. (Review)

5) Finding Neverland
I loved Finding Neverland so much that I brought my family to see it...and we're already planning to see it when it comes to North Carolina on tour! The sets, the costumes, the dancing, the cast: there's nothing about this show that I didn't adore. (Review

4) Daddy Long Legs
The only Off-Broadway show that I saw this summer was the one that I came out of and immediately bought the cast album. I'm 100% in love with this charming show and the fact that the couple I saw in it are married in real life made it even better. (Review

3) Bright Star
Bright Star somehow manages to be new and exciting (that bluegrass music! that set!) while still having everything I love about musical theater. Perhaps I'm biased as a North Carolinian since the show is set in North Carolina, but I absolutely loved this show. (Review

2) Hamilton 
Who would ever have thought Hamilton would be second on my list? While it's undeniably my favorite show on the list, this She Loves Me production pushed it to second place. I was incredibly lucky to get to see Austin Smith as Aaron Burr, who absolutely killed it, and to see Michael Luwoye's second ever show as Hamilton. (Review coming soon.) 

1) She Loves Me 
And for first place...the show that I saw four times. I cannot describe how in love with this show I am, except to say that rarely have I left a show so happy. Something about this show made me feel at peace with the world. Plus the flawless combination of Zachary Levi, Jane Krakowski, Gavin Creel, AND Laura Benanti? (And my favorite ensemble member, Andrew Kober.) Obviously this show had to take first place. (Review

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Little NYC Vlog

Well, I'm officially home in North Carolina! There's certainly more content about New York to come (show reviews! a ranking of all the shows I saw! restaurant recommendations! anything else you want?), but I've left the city for a bit slower-paced life. It's nice to have some time to just concentrate on the things that I need to accomplish before I head back for my last year of university. 

In the meantime, here's a little vlog I pieced together of the time that my family spent in New York when they came to bring me home. x

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Review: Daddy Long Legs

One of the first shows I saw this summer was the off-Broadway musical, Daddy Long Legs. And despite the nearly two dozen shows I’ve seen, it has remained one of my absolute favorites!

Based on a 1912 children’s novel by Jean Webster, the show follows the story of Jerusha Abbott, an orphan from New England who is gifted with a college education by a mysterious benefactor. That mysterious benefactor is actually not the old man that she imagines at all but the young and handsome Jervis Pendleton. I don’t want to give away any more of the plot, but let me say that you can tell that it’s based on a children’s novel -- in all the best ways.


While Paul Alexander Nolan (who I saw in Bright Star) originated the role of Jervis Off-Broadway and appears on the cast album, I got to see Adam Halpin in the lead male role. This was so special to me because Adam is married to his co-star Megan McGinnis! Both of them were incredibly talented actors and singers and their chemistry (of course) was off the charts. One of the unique things about the show is that there are only two roles and thus those two actors carry the show entirely.

I downloaded the cast album the day that I saw the show and haven’t stopped listening to it since. Unfortunately the show closed only a few days after I saw it (which made me sad because I definitely would have seen it several more times, as they had $25 student rush tickets), but you can buy the cast album online!

By the end of the first act, I’d fallen in love with not only the music and storyline but the characters of Jerusha and Jervis. Their story, and especially Jerusha’s determination, helped me get through my first few weeks in New York City when I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing. I highly recommend buying the album and giving the show a listen and you can bet that if I ever find another production of it, I’ll be going…at least twice!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Laura Michelle Kelly is "All That Matters"

You know when you see an actor in a role and absolutely fall in love with their performance and immediately want to see every other thing they’ve ever been involved with? That’s how I felt about Laura Michelle Kelly after seeing her in Finding Neverland. So when my friend, Julie, told me that Laura was having a concert on Monday, July 25th, I knew that I had to go.


Laura Michelle Kelly is a British actress from the Isle of Wight. She won the 2005 Olivier Award for playing the title role in Mary Poppins in the West End and also reprised the role on Broadway. She had a cameo role in the Sweeney Todd film as Lucy Barker. She has been playing Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies in Finding Neverland since its previews off-Broadway.

Laura’s “All That Matters” concert was an absolute delight. Her set ranged from a soulful “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (I couldn’t help dancing in my seat!) to her beautiful solo in Finding Neverland, “All That Matters.” For me, one of the highlights was definitely when she sang “Come What May” from the film, Moulin Rouge, with her special guest, Dez Duron who was a contestant on The Voice.

Another highlight was when Laura sang some of her own original music, written about the death of her mother and a difficult time in her life. It was very touching to hear music that she’d written about her personal. Laura has a lovely voice and her uplifting and bright personality (and that lovely British accent) kept the mood light and enjoyable.


The cutest thing about the night might be that she brought tons of light blue balloons for people to take home with them and gave everyone at her meet-and-greet a Hershey kiss to thank them for coming. Getting to meet her after the show was absolutely lovely as she was so sweet and excited to hear that I’m bringing my family to see Finding Neverland next week.

Laura Michelle Kelly’s concert was a fun and intimate-feeling experience, with a great and varied set list. If she ever decides to reprise it, definitely go if you can!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ramin Karimloo's Broadgrass Concert

I attended Ramin Karimloo’s concert last Saturday at B.B. King’s.

Quick story: When I was a little girl, I loved theater. I would spend hours listening to and imitating my Broadway Kids CDs. But then I kind of forgot about theater until my first year of high school when I was a part of the school play. Then, I saw the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert on PBS when I was probably about sixteen years old. Initially, I was lured in by watching Nick Jonas’s somewhat disastrous Marius, but then I kept watching because the guy playing Enjolras was amazing.

That guy, of course, was Ramin Karimloo. The following week a friend lent me the Love Never Dies cast album and I fell head over heels in love with Ramin, and through him, theater. Now, six years later, I’m pursuing a career in theater marketing/advertising/PR and my life is completely tied to my love for theater.

I got to see Ramin Karimloo when he was playing Valjean in Les Miserables a few years back on Broadway (unfortunately, it was during the time that he wasn’t stage dooring because of an injury). But ever since the hours and hours I would spend listening to him and Hadley Fraser’s band, Sheytoons, when I was in high school, I’ve wanted to see him in concert. When he announced a “Broadgrass” concert in New York City at B.B. King’s, I knew I had to go.

Ramin is one of those people who is not only insanely talented, but also has a light that shines out of him. He was amazing, unsurprisingly, singing songs from the Avett Brothers and other bands amidst things like “Bring Him Home.” Hearing him sing “Til I Hear You Sing” live, the song that truly got me entrenched into musical theater, was such a special experience.


I was lucky enough to go to his concert on Saturday night, when Andrew Kober and Tam Mutu were guests. I absolutely adore Andrew Kober from seeing him in Les Miserables and She Loves Me. He joined Ramin to sing a bluegrass song and “Lily’s Eyes” from The Secret Garden, which just happens to be one of my two favorite male duets of all time. I was beside myself with excitement! Andrew was truly lovely and he Periscoped the whole thing, which was hilarious.


I saw Tam Mutu back when he was playing Javert in London. (Sidenote: He’s the only person that I’ve ever gone completely starstruck in front of at stage door.) He and Ramin sang a beautiful rendition of “Edelweiss,” that I’m so happy I got to hear live!


If you ever get a chance to go to one of Ramin’s “Broadgrass” concerts, definitely take advantage of it! He has a great voice, a charismatic stage presence, and superb guests.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saturday in the Park with MC and Kendal

Anyone get the reference in the post title? If so, major kudos to you. Last weekend, my roommates Kendal and MaryClaire and I decided to go to Washington Square Park and have a mini photoshoot for our blogs. One thing that I appreciate about New York is that it seems like no matter where you are, you're always close to a park!

Lately, I've been absolutely in love with button-downs and tie-up flats. So I liked that this outfit incorporated both of them! Lately, my weekend outfits have been a lot of casual shorts paired with my work shirts, because I didn't have the room to bring a ton of casual shirts to New York.


Shirt: Banana Republic (Similar), Shorts: Madewell
Shoes: DSW, Bag: DWS, Sunglasses: Target 







Check out the fun video that I filmed of our mini photoshoot!


All photos by MaryClaire Schulz.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: Wicked

I was lucky enough to attend Wicked Tuesday night as part of the program I’m doing this summer through my university. My professor knows someone who works on the crew of Wicked, so we saw the show and go to go onstage afterward. It was my fourth time seeing Wicked, but my first time seeing it on Broadway (I saw it on tour twice and once in the West End, with the marvelous Louise Dearman and Gina Beck).


If you somehow don’t know Wicked, it’s a retold story about the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good from the Wizard of Oz. I think most theater people go through a Wicked phase (mine happened when I was seventeen). I’m not particularly fond of the show, but I do love the character of Galinda.

Having seen the tour and the West End production, it was very interesting to see the original Broadway production. Wicked has been operating in the Gershwin Theater for the past thirteen years and the show is much the same as when it opened in 2003. The current cast is very solid; the only weak member would perhaps be the Wizard, who was a bit bland and spoke-sung most of his lines.

My friends from the UK told me that I would love Rachel Tucker as Elphaba, but I was not prepared for how amazing she was. She’s the longest consecutive running Elphaba in the West End and let me tell you, her “No Good Deed” is by far the best I’ve ever heard. She was one of the first Elphabas I’ve seen that made me truly care about the character (I’m much more of a Galinda girl, myself). Her acting was great and her singing was flawless.

The only way I know how to describe Carrie St. Louis’s Galinda is that she’s Elle Woods, in all the best ways. Carrie is an adorable Galinda who brings a lot of true emotion to her character. I am highly picky about Galindas, after seeing the amazing Gina Beck, but Carrie exceeded my expectations by a lot. While perky and cute in songs like “Popular” (definitely the highlight of Act I), she also masterfully depicted Galinda’s pain in songs like “Thank Goodness” and “No One Mourns the Wicked.”

Jonah Platt is easily the best Fiyero I’ve ever seen. He was charming and sincere, while also displaying amazing dancing and singing skills. Often, it seems that Fiyeros are cast based on their acting and dancing (and maybe how good they look in the Fiyero pants?) alone and “As Long As You’re Mine” can be a bit cringey. But Jonah’s vocals were truly lovely, making it one of the best moments of the show.

After the show, we got the privilege of going on the actual stage and seeing some of the large set pieces. I got to see the Wizard of Oz’s head, the cabinet that Elphaba appears in when she visits Nessa, and Nessa’s chair! I was most excited that I could see Galinda’s bubble overhead where it’s stored. Getting to actually be on the stage of the Gershwin was such a cool experience. (And I felt fancy because I knew what the ghost light was, thanks to Finding Neverland.)



While not my favorite show that I’ve seen this summer, going to Wicked with my class was a very special experience. I’m very grateful to my professor and his friends for setting it all up! This current cast is simply lovely, so if you have the chance to see it, you should. I will certainly be sad when Rachel Tucker returns to the West End.

Monday, July 18, 2016

NYC Weekend with Carolyn Vlog

My best friend Carolyn came to visit and I vlogged our time together! 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Review: Finding Neverland

Whether or not you've seen the movie that it's based on, Finding Neverland is well worth going to. It's a spectacular production with beautiful costumes and sets, a heartbreaking storyline, a talented cast of adults and children, and a dog. Seriously, what more could you want?

We were able to get incredible seats through rushing the show. For just $37, I got to sit in the center orchestra, row C! One tip though: Finding Neverland rush only accepts cash. For more tips on how to see Broadway shows inexpensively, check out my blog post.

Finding Neverland is the story of how playwright J.M. Barrie was inspired to write the play, Peter Pan, when he befriended a family with four boys. It deals with love, loss, breaking social norms, and mortality. (I think I just made it sound much darker than it actually is!) As someone who grew up loving Peter Pan, Finding Neverland was the perfect choice for me.


I can't talk about this show without mentioning how truly talented the four little boys in it were. The boys who play the Llewelyn-Davies brothers are all impressive young actors and singers. One of the things I loved about Finding Neverland is that it's not your typical show with children in it; it's much more Les Mis than Annie or Oliver in that the children are there to portray specific characters rather than to simply be children in a musical. 

When Alfie Boe first left Finding Neverland because of medical issues, I was so disappointed but Tony Yazbeck surprised me in the best of ways. He was amazing in the role of the conflicted and imaginative J.M. Barrie and his vocals in songs like "Never Neverland" and "Stronger" were stunning. He brought an intensity to the role that was refreshing, though his Scottish accent wavered at times (but that's coming from someone who lived in Scotland for six months, so perhaps it's unfair). 

With the very talented Tony Yazbeck
I mostly went to see Finding Neverland because one of my best friends in the city is a fan of Laura Michelle Kelly, who plays Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, a newly-widowed mother of four. I was not ready for how insanely talented she is. Laura Michelle Kelly reminds me of Laura Osnes in some ways: her voice is clear and beautiful and she has a way of lighting up a room (or rather a stage, I guess). She looked absolutely gorgeous in the period costumes and her tragic storyline broke my heart. "All That Matters" is definitely my favorite song from the show.

I don't want to give away any spoilers, but Finding Neverland has some amazing dance scenes and some touching intimate scenes. I truly both laughed and cried. (At one point, I turned to Julie, sobbing, and whispered, "Why did you bring me here?") I can't wait to go see the show with my family when they're in the city in August, because I have to introduce them to it. If you're in New York and have the chance to go, definitely take advantage of it before the show closes at the end of August!

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Review: Something Rotten

If you want a light-hearted, hilarious, rollicking show, then Something Rotten is the one for you. I was lucky enough to win the lottery for Something Rotten and got to see it with my friend Emma, who was visiting New York from Scotland. We had an amazing time and were singing “Welcome to the Renaissance” for days afterward.

The musical centers around the Bottom brothers, playwrights who are rivals of William Shakespeare (Christian Borle). Nick Bottom (played by Rob McClure who recently took over the role from Brian d’Arcy James) hates Shakespeare with a passion (and with an amazing song). Meanwhile, the younger brother Nigel Bottom (John Cariani) secretly loves Shakespeare and wants to be like him. With the help of a prophet, Nick comes up with the idea to stage the world’s first musical...and chaos ensues, of course.


The cast brings a lot of charm to this show. John Cariani is adorable as Nigel Bottom (and I can’t stop trying to imitate his vocal inflection). Rob McClure was convincing as the frustrated older brother who is trying to provide for his family. Heidi Blickenstaff shines as Bea, Nick’s wife, who decides to take providing for the family into her own hands. I especially loved Kate Reinders as the Puritan Portia, who secretly loves poetry. She reminded me a bit of a young Kristin Chenoweth!

Of course, it’s impossible to talk about Something Rotten without discussing Christian Borle as William Shakespeare. I’ve been a fan of Borle’s since his Legally Blonde days and believe me, this role seems made for him. He’s hilarious as the pompous and vain Shakespeare.

The one main downside of this show is that if you don’t have some knowledge of musicals, then a lot of the jokes won’t make sense. I’m so glad that I took the time to see Something Rotten, even if it’s not the type of show that I want to return to again and again (like She Loves Me or Les Miserables). I’m not typically one for feel-good, happy, upbeat shows but this one proved me wrong. I would highly recommend seeing it if you’re in New York!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How to Get Inexpensive Broadway Tickets

How did I see five shows in one week for under $175 total? I filmed a video to share all my tips on how to get inexpensive tickets to Broadway shows!


LOTTERIES
One of the easiest, if least successful, ways to get inexpensive tickets is to enter lotteries. You simply put your name and information into a website the morning of a show and then find out later in the day if you won or not. If you were chosen, then you get your seats for $30 to $40! (Note: Some shows, like Something Rotten and Kinky Boots, have lotteries that you can enter for the next eight performances at a time.) 

RUSH TICKETS
If you have a few hours to spare in the morning of a show, then rush tickets are one of the best ways to get seats. Simply show up in the morning about an hour before the box office opens, wait in line, and then you'll be let into the box office to purchase tickets. Typically rush tickets range from $30-50. Not all shows do rush, so make sure to look it up online (or ask me in the comments) before you go! 

THEATER PROGRAMS
Programs like Hiptix and Linctix offer discounted tickets booked in advance for young people. You simply become a member of the program (for free) and then can purchase certain tickets to productions through those theater companies. For example, I got $25 She Loves Me tickets (in the back of the mezzanine) through Hiptix because I fit into its age range, which is 18-30 years old.  

TODAYTIX
If you don't have the TodayTix app, download it right now! It's completely free and you can also enter some lotteries on it. It allows you to buy discounted tickets up to a week out and will sometimes even give you vouchers to save more. Often, the tickets for rear mezzanine get down as low as $37 and it's a bit more reliable than hoping to win a lottery or hoping that they won't run out of rush tickets. 

Do you have tips for getting inexpensive tickets to Broadway shows? Make sure to leave them in the comments below. x

Friday, July 1, 2016

Review: Les Miserables

One of the shows I wanted most to see this summer was Les Miserables. Why was I so desperate to see it, you might wonder, when I’d seen it five times before between Broadway and the West End? Because it would fulfill a life goal of mine: to see John Owen Jones as Jean Valjean and hear him sing “Bring Him Home” in person.

And let me tell you, he did not disappoint. Les Mis will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s the show that got me into theater. I’ve spent the past six years listening to the 2010 UK Tour cast recording with John Owen Jones as Jean Valjean, so when I learned he was coming to Broadway, I was excited out of my mind.

Me and John Owen Jones
His Valjean is every bit as good as I expected: he’s vocally flawless, his acting is compelling and interesting, and at times he reminded me a bit of Colm Wilkinson. One thing that struck me about his Valjean is how tired he was, from prison, from life on the run, from trying to figure out how to raise a teenager. One little thing that stood out to me astoundingly was in the finale, he hesitated and looked back at Cosette and Marius before going (to heaven, presumably) with Fantine and Eponine. That little gesture spoke volumes to me about how well John understands the fatherly part of Valjean’s character. His “Bring Him Home” was by far the best I’ve heard and I have been blessed to see many amazing Valjeans, from Alfie Boe to Peter Lockyear to Ramin Karimloo.

If anyone ever has anything bad to say about Chris McCarrell’s Marius, they can fight me. Chris is the only Marius I’ve ever seen who provided competition to London’s Rob Houchen (who I saw three times). Marius is one of my favorite characters in the show and Chris plays him perfectly, from his tousled hair to his slightly goofy manner. His “Empty Chairs” was as chilling as his “A Heart Full of Love” was adorable (and I’ll never be over how much I love the use of the candles during “Empty Chairs”). If Pride and Prejudice ever comes to Broadway, sign Chris up to play Mr. Bingley.

I’m not typically overly invested in Fantine’s story line, but Alison Luff certainly caught my attention. I was struck by how young her Fantine seemed, which made her plot seem even more tragic. Her delivery of “I Dreamed a Dream” was beautiful and I appreciated how she seemed to keep a sense of self even as she descended into poverty. The seeming age difference between her Fantine and John Owen Jones’s Valjean made it seem that the relationship between the two was almost father and daughter-esque, which was an angle I’d never seen before.

With Joe Spieldenner, an amazing Grantaire
And with his husband, Jason Forbach, the best of Feuillys!
Alex Finke and Brennyn Lark were one of the best Cosette and Eponine pairs I’ve ever seen. Alex’s Cosette was absolutely lovely; I appreciated that she was a bit awkward in her interactions with Marius. The only time my roommate Kendal cried during the whole show (and it was her first time seeing it) was during “A Little Fall of Rain.” Brennyn’s “On My Own” was wonderful and her acting throughout was superb.

Hayden Tee’s Javert, Mark Uhre’s Enjolras, and Rachel Izen and David Rossmer’s Thenardiers were solid, if not as memorable as some of the other performances. I’ve been blessed to see some incredible Javerts (Hadley Fraser, Tam Mutu, and David Thaxton), so while Hayden’s Javert didn’t particularly impress me, he also didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the piece and I felt that he had a good if unoriginal grasp on the character. Mark perfectly hit all of Enjolras’s notes, if he was a little more level-headed than most Enjolras’s I’ve seen. (I also must say that I loved that he has a blonde ponytail.) Rachel and David’s Thenardiers were hilarious, while never committing the ultimate Les Mis sin of losing the fact that the Thenardiers are the villains of the show.


My roommates, Kimmy and Kendal, and I went and got our tickets for the show the morning of as rush tickets for Les Mis are only $37. We were given seats in the boxes in house right. Sitting in a box was such a unique experience; I felt a bit like Raoul in Phantom of the Opera. While our view was sometimes blocked, we also were amazed that the actors sometimes used the window right next to us. We definitely felt a part of the action!

Overall, I was much more impressed with the revival production than the first time I saw it. While I still prefer the West End production (I’m partial to a good turntable), I will be very sad to see Les Mis leave Broadway on September 4th and am hoping to go back with my family in August. I strongly urge anyone who has to chance to see it, purely for the experience of witnessing John Owen Jones’s Valjean, if nothing else.


Want to hear more of my thoughts on Les Mis or see me in line for rush tickets? Check out my vlog from that day. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

NY Public Library & Les Mis Rush | Weekends in New York Vlogs

Enjoy my vlog from last Saturday of me and my friends hanging out in the city. x

Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots’ message of the importance of being yourself and not conforming is one that seemed especially relevant after recent events in Orlando. It was my first time ever seeing the show after listening to the West End cast recording on repeat for months and it did not disappoint. The costumes and sets are beautiful, the music had me dancing in my chair (yes, I’m embarrassing), and the dancing was incredible. I would definitely recommend going to see Kinky Boots anywhere that you can, be that Broadway, the West End, or on tour.

Kinky Boots is the story of a man named Charlie Price who has inherited a failing shoe factory after his father’s death. As he struggles to decide if he wants to pursue his own life or carry out his father’s legacy, he meets Lola, a drag queen who has some issues of her own. Together they team up to try to save the factory.


Alan Mingo Jr. was absolutely stunning as Lola. Not only does he have an incredible voice and is he a great dancer, but his stage presence is exactly what the character of Lola needs. Not to mention that he walks better in heels than I do! He absolutely broke my heart when he sang “Hold Me in Your Heart.” Alan is by far the strongest member of the Kinky Boots cast. (And he was a total sweetheart at stage door.)

I have to mention Jeanna De Waal as Lauren, Charlie’s love interest, and Daniel Stewart Sherman as Don, a burly worker, as well. Jeanna's Lauren was absolutely hysterical, while still likeable and…dare I say it…relatable. Her rendition of “The History of Wrong Guys” was amazing both vocally and acting-wise. Daniel was also simultaneously hilarious and heart-warming as Don.

The only cast member that didn’t completely thrill me was Andy Kelso as Charlie Price. While his singing was lovely, he was lacking in the charisma that is necessary to make Charlie not seem like a jerk. I especially noticed this in “Soul of a Man” and the voice mail part of “Hold Me in Your Heart” which fell a bit flat, in my opinion. I also have to admit that I think I’m a bit spoiled for the role of Charlie because I’m used to hearing Killian Donnelly on the West End cast album, who has a stunning voice and enough charisma to fill all of Manhattan. 

My roommate Kendal and I with Alan 
Despite whatever flaws it has, the Broadway production of Kinky Boots is truly one that shouldn’t be missed. Alan Mingo Jr. shines in the part of Lola, the dancing will blow your mind, and you’ll leave much happier than you were going in.

PLAYBILL GIVEAWAY!

Because I ended up with an extra playbill for Kinky Boots, I wanted to do a little giveaway. Not only is it a playbill in great condition, it’s also a Pride Playbill! If you’d like to enter to win, just leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite show you’ve ever seen is. Don’t forget to leave your email address or Twitter username so that I can contact you to tell you if you’ve won! The competition will close on July 1. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Best Places in NYC: The Strand Bookstore

I made a little video about one of my favorite places in New York...and a mini bookstore haul!

Friday, June 17, 2016

UPDATE on Posting Schedule

Hi there readers,

I wanted to give you a quick update on my different posting schedule for this summer. Between work, class, research, and simply living in New York, I don't think that I can hold myself to posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Plus, sometimes I'm struggling because I want to post more than that!

Instead, for the summer, I'll be posting three times a week but not on any set days. And I may post more if I see more than three Broadway shows in a week (I'm seeing four this week!). I'll be discontinuing Friday Internet Finds just for the summer, to make more space for posts.

In regards to my YouTube channel, I'll hopefully still be uploading a video either Sunday or Monday of every week.

If you have any suggestions for posts or videos, please put them in the comments below or Tweet them to me at @nicoleackman16.

Love,
Nicole xx

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review: Bright Star

Bright Star might just be the most uplifting show currently on Broadway. My roommate Kimmy and I went and got rush tickets yesterday morning for last night's show. I still can't quite believe that we paid just $30 for orchestra row C!


I don't want to give away too much, but the show is set in North Carolina in two different time periods: 1923 and 1945. There are two storylines interweaving around the character of Alice Murphy (brilliantly portrayed by Carmen Cusack). The first act ends with one of the most shocking moments I've ever seen on a Broadway stage. The resolution in the second act is fairly predictable, but heartwarming nonetheless. The music, if not particularly memorable, is unique for its bluegrass style. My personal favorite was definitely "Another Round," a hilarious dance tune about drinking.

After seeing the show, I definitely understand why it was nominated for a Tony for Best Musical and it's clear that Carmen Cusack deserved her nomination for Best Actress. While her vocals are flawless, it was her acting that stood out to me. She had me in tears three separate times! I also have to mention that she was so lovely at stage door and just a ray of sunshine.

I honestly don't know what my face is doing.
Another standout performance was A.J. Shively as Billy, a young man who has returned from World War II and wants to pursue a career as a writer. With a lovely voice and believable acting, he stood out amongst the cast. His comedic timing was also on point and he was suitably adorable in his romantic scenes with Margo.


The main reason that I wanted to see Bright Star was because of Paul Alexander Nolan, who stars as Jimmy, Alice's love interest. I absolutely adore Paul on the Daddy Long Legs and the Doctor Zhivago cast albums, so I wanted to see him in person. How do I even describe how wonderful Paul was? His voice is stunning and he was just so charming.

We also had a nice chat at stage door about Daddy Long Legs, which I think surprised him a bit. He even told us a bit of trivia about our favorite song from that show, "My Manhattan"!


Sadly, the news that Bright Star is closing on June 26 came out while we were at the show. If you can possibly get to the show before then, I would highly recommend it. The bluegrass music has a great bounce to it, the cast are impeccable, and the show will rip your heart out only to put it back together again better than it was before. With everything that's been going on in the world these past few days, this show was exactly the inspiring message that I needed to see.
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