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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. 
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