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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!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: Hamlet (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts)

The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts made headlines in September with their production of Hamlet, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Tom Hiddleston as the Danish prince. Both Branagh and Hiddleston, along with being two of the greatest living Shakespearean actors, are alumni of the RADA, as were about two thirds of the rest of the cast and crew. Tickets were sold via ballot as the show was performed in the RADA's Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre, which has only 160 seats, and ran just for three weeks. I was lucky enough to snag tickets for my mom and I to see it while she was in London moving me over here and I couldn't have asked for a better first experience seeing a professional production of Shakespeare.

There were many who criticized the show for its exclusivity, however, it was a fundraiser for the RADA and thus was performed in one of the RADA's theatres, hence the small size. This also explains why it didn't provide press tickets -- any press members wishing to see the show had to battle for tickets just like anyone else because it was seeking to raise funds, not get great reviews. (Because of the time change, I had to get up at 5am to get my tickets.)

I felt that the small venue gave the piece an intimacy that worked very well with the material. At one point, I actually made eye contact with Hiddleston from my seat in the third row. There wasn't a bad seat in the house and the proximity of the actors made it even more gripping.

One of my favorite things about the production was that Branagh decided to cast several of the traditionally male roles as women. This seems to be a recent trend, as I've seen in done in productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company too, and it's one I highly approve of. Horatio became Horatia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern became Rosacrantz and Guildastern, and Marcellus and Bernardo became Marcella and Bernarda. This helped even the ratio of men to women in the cast and I thought it was a lovely touch since it didn't alter the story at all.

Another strength was the combat scenes. Hiddleston is truly a wonder to watch in stage combat and the scenes were endued with an energy and a reality that made the audience momentarily worry about the safety of the characters. It appeared more like combat than stage combat. The production had few weaknesses in my mind, aside from perhaps Nicholas Farrell's King Claudius being a bit flat at times.

The women of the production were absolutely stunning. RADA-trained Lolita Chakrabarti gave Gertrude such an earnestness and a genuine worry about her son that it made the queen's despair quite touching.

Similarly, Kathryn Wilder as Ophelia truly pulled at the audience's hearts. I was astounded to learn that she only graduated from the RADA two years ago. Her Ophelia was bright, happy, and affectionate without a sign of weakness. I loved that they played a genuine affection between her and Polonius and Laertes and made the scenes in which they warn her about Hamlet's intentions seem more like teasing than actual disapproval. Her madness was unsettling--as it should be--and heartbreaking. Ophelia has always been one of my favorite characters in all of Shakespeare and I feel so lucky that I got to see such a wonderful, strong portrayal for my first time seeing Hamlet live.

Surprisingly, I felt that one of the strongest performances was that of Sean Foley who played Polonius. He struck a perfect balance between seeming foolish and seeming like a statesman, which made his Polonius seem like someone you could find in government today. His open affection with Ophelia and Laertes endeared him to the audience as more than just a comic figure, so that you felt genuine sorrow when he was killed. I enjoyed that he played a Polonius with the best of intentions as it provided a foil to King Claudius.

Perhaps it goes without saying that Hiddleston was an astounding Hamlet. I'm always interested in an actor's choices around Hamlet because there are so many to be made: is he actually mad? Does he, or did he ever, love Ophelia? Hiddleston's Hamlet was intelligent, profoundly sad, and filled with fury. While some Hamlets seem like sullen teenage boys, his had a rage that simmered under the surface and leapt out in some scenes. He played a very physical Hamlet, both in embracing friends frequently and slamming tables. He was the sort of Hamlet that had you a bit on edge about what he might do next; there seemed a real danger in him despite the semblance of a noble man.

Hiddleston's monologues were lovely but he really shined in scenes with the show's actresses. His relationship with Horatia was touching; in very few scenes, they managed to portray a true depiction of close friends. In scenes with Gertrude, he exuded a betrayed feeling. And he was stunning in his scenes with Ophelia. It was clear that underneath a mask of madness, he had real concern for her. I've never heard the "Get thee to a nunnery" line delivered as he did it; it seemed a warning to her to flee Elsinore before bad things occurred, not a dismissal or an insult.

All in all, the RADA Hamlet was a unique and thoughtful production of Hamlet, if not an overly original one. Though somewhat classical, it also made some radical choices with its casting of females in male roles. Hiddlestone was every bit as brilliant a Hamlet as might have been expected, with a strong supporting cast, many of them not many years out of the RADA. My only regret is that the production wasn't filmed to raise more money for the RADA as DVDs certainly would have sold well.

You can also check out my video review of the production, paired with my review of Much Ado About Nothing: 


Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday! It was a big week in theatre with several big announcements being made. This week, I made it through my first week of classes and saw two shows. Let me know how your week was in the comments or on Twitter. x

1) The BroadwayWorld UK awards are now open for voting. My personal recommendation is for everyone to go vote for Killian Donnelly for Best Male Long-running West End Show Performer, but there are so many well deserving nominees for the awards.

2) One of the best things about the month of October is that you can watch Halloween movies! This Buzzfeed quiz will tell you which Halloweentown character you are based on your Chipotle order.

3) Casting was finally announced for the upcoming Broadway production of My Fair Lady. With names like Colin Firth and Laura Benanti having been whispered (and my personal hopes that they might cast younger talent like Denée Benton), it was a bit of a let-down in my opinion but I'm excited to see how this cast does.

4) The stage adaption of Moulin Rouge has announced the rest of its creative team. It will have a developmental workshop this October 30 to December 15 before hopefully coming to Broadway in the near future.

5) As I just got back from the Globe Theatre as I'm writing this, I felt I had to include the announcement that Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson will star in a BBC2 television production of King Lear. The rest of the cast includes British greats like Emily Watson and Jim Broadbent. It's set to air in 2018.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

October Goals

I can't believe that September is gone and we're already in October! It'll be the end of 2017 before you know it. I actually did a good job with my goals in September so here's to hoping October will be just as productive.

Goal Update - September Goals 

(1) Pack for the move. Well, I'm in London now! I managed to get everything packed (even if it came down to the hours before we left for the airport) and moved across the ocean.

(2) Pre-write and pre-film some content for the end of September. I actually did this and managed to keep uploading fairly frequently. I also hit 200 subscribers on my YouTube channel so I really can't complain.

(3) Finish cleaning my room. Okay, this goal...I struggled with a bit. But I managed to make everything decent and can finish when I'm home in December.

(4) Launch my new study abroad blog. I launched Sailing Off to London and have been posting on it every day or every other day since getting here. I couldn't be more happy with it and I'm plugging along with learning how to use Wordpress.

October Goals 

(1) Find a part-time job. Because I have more free time than I'm used to and can work up to 20 hours a week on my student visa, I'm trying to find a part-time job. Thus far, I've been focusing on front of house jobs at theatres, but I'm also open to working or volunteering at a museum or anything else relevant to my degree.

(2) Film some videos and figure out a new set-up. I've only filmed one video here thus far and that was just to film a quick bit about moving here. I need to figure out where and how I'm going to film videos in my room and get some new content up this month.

(3) Stay on top of my reading list. One of the main differences about university in the UK versus in the US is that you're in class for much less time every week but you have mountains of reading to do in exchange. My major goal for this month is to adjust to the amount of reading I need to be doing and not fall behind.

(4) Do something with a friend at least twice a week. This could be as simple as grabbing lunch with someone after class, but I need to push myself to socialize. I've been a bit lonely thus far but for someone so extroverted, I'm rather terrible at making myself make friends. So it's my goal to have some 'people time' at least twice a week. (This week, I'm going to the pub with a friend on Thursday and then going to a matinee with the same friend on Friday!)

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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Hi from London everyone! Sorry about the silence the past week or so; it's because I was moving countries (what a strange concept to me, even now). Now that I'm happily settled in London, I'm excited to start writing reviews of historical sites and musicals. But first...this week's Friday Internet Finds.

Upcoming Shows at the Donmar: On Thursday, the upcoming season for London's Donmar Warhouse was announced. The line-up includes Belleville with James Norton and Imogen Poots which I will definitely be seeing (and reviewing!).

O Romeo: I'm on a bit of a Shakespeare kick after seeing Hamlet, so I loved this Buzzfeed quiz that reveals whether you're a Capulet or a Montague.

An American in Paris in Cinemas: Sadly, this week An American in Paris announced its closing in London this January. However, they shared that they will be filming the show for it to air in cinemas!

I'm Yours, Broadway: My suspicions were confirmed and singer-songwriter Jason Mraz is joining the Broadway cast of Waitress in the role of Dr. Pomatter for a ten week run. It's amazing to see a friend of Sara Bareilles get to join the show.

Welcome Home: Though I'm gutted by Bandstand's closure, this gorgeous jazzy reimagining of "Welcome Home" has been on repeat in my new apartment. Could Laura Osnes be any more perfect? (No, of course not.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Turning 23

Last Friday, I turned twenty three years old and later today (as it's already after midnight as I'm posting this) I will leave the United States for another country. My birthday has always neatly lined up with each school year and thus I know that my year of being twenty three years old will always be 'the year I spent in London.' 

On my birthday, I went out to dinner with my aunt and uncle and family at my favorite restaurant and then the following Sunday we had lunch with my nana, cousins, and their children who are toddlers. There is nothing like being with children to make you realize how old you are (except maybe having a sibling eight years younger than you are). 

pre-birthday dinner family photo
Twenty two was a roller coaster of a year without a doubt. My sister was hospitalized for months before she had a life-saving surgery, I finished my thesis, and I graduated from university magna cum laude. I grew closer to friends than I've ever been to anyone before, had my heart broken a few times, and had friendships fall apart. I discovered new loves (Great Comet), revisited old ones (here's looking at you, Alistair Brammer), and made perhaps the boldest and bravest decision I've ever made: to go to grad school in London. 

It's hard to say what twenty three will hold yet. I will spend most of it in London, aside from visits home and visits to Vienna to see my best friend Lucy who I will finally be reunited with. I will certainly see a lot of museums and musicals, hopefully I will make many new friends, and who knows -- maybe I'll even go on my first real date. I'll get my Master's degree and by the end of it hopefully be on my way to a career in a field that I'm passionate about. Here's to 22, one of the most difficult, rewarding, and emotional years of my life, and here's to 23 being even better. xx

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday from me, for the last time in the United States for several months! Anyone else super excited about autumn not just for the changing leaves and dropping temperature, but for the seemingly endless casting announcements?

Get In, Loser: In honor of the release of some of the promotional materials for the Mean Girls musical this week, I had to share this Buzzfeed quiz which tells you which high school movie character you are because I got Regina George! (A little worried about that answer actually...)

Reunited: I woke up Wednesday morning to an exciting casting announcement: two of my favorite West End Miss Saigon actors reunited in The Woman in White in London! I've wanted to see Chris Peluso in something since he replaced Alistair in Miss Saigon and I still regret that I never got to see Carolyn Maitland as Ellen when she understudied the role. I'll definitely be buying tickets to this Andrew Lloyd Webber show that I'm actually not familiar with, as it also stars Anna O'Byrne.

Superstars: Speaking of Miss Saigon, they released a music video of Rachelle Ann Go and Eva Noblezada singing a reimagined "Movie in My Mind" and it's absolutely stunning.

Losing a Legend: This week Peter Hall who founded the Royal Shakespeare Company amongst other contributions to British theatre passed away at the age of 86. This article from the NY Times elaborates on how much the London theatre industry owes to him.

One Last Look: I know it seems like all I care about is Great Comet (sometimes it feels like that), but I couldn't resist sharing Lucas Steele's heartbreaking video he made in honor of the show's closing. His haunting stripped-down cover of "Goodbye My Gypsy Lovers" paired with footage of the theatre being broken down brought me to tears.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

24 Hours in Boston

Last week, I made a last-minute trip up to New England to visit my best friend Andrew before I leave for London. I'd never been anywhere up north other than New York City before, so I was so excited to see his hometown in Connecticut. We also decided to go up to Boston for about 24 hours to explore some sights and see my other best friend Alex who goes to school there.

We managed to pack a lot of sightseeing into two half days (they also made the mistake of letting me loose in the Harvard bookstore, so I came back with two new books and a 2018 calendar), so I wanted to share some of my favorite places with you!

Duck Tours
Andrew suggested that we do a 'Duck Tour' so that I could see a lot of the historic sites of Boston all at once. I loved seeing historic graveyards and learning more about the city itself (did you know most of Boston is on artificial land?) and I was so shocked that we actually went through the intersection where the Boston Massacre happened.

The 'Duck Tours' happen on replica vehicles like the duck ones used in WWII that are part-car, part-boat. After about an hour touring around on land, you spend about twenty minutes boating about in the Charles River. Our lovely tour guide asked if anyone wanted to drive the boat and Andrew volunteered me so...I drove the boat for about three minutes! She actually let me do some steering and to be honest, I felt pretty cool. I highly recommend it whether you're in Boston alone, with friends, or with family.

Harvard University 
Harvard is one of those institutions that lives in the American conscious like nothing else -- perhaps partially because of its presence in films. I constantly wanted to say "What? Like it's hard?" like Elle Woods. I also kept thinking about the fact that F. Scott Fitzgerald had attended the school (even if he didn't do too well). It's quite fun to walk around and see all the (historic!) buildings and their main bookstore is absolutely glorious.

New England Aquarium 
I'd heard about the Boston Aquarium before from my friend Kendal who loves it and I wasn't disappointed! I'm not typically one for aquariums, but the Boston one has tons and tons of penguins and sea lions in addition to loads of fish, turtles, and other sea animals. I appreciated their focus on preservation of the oceans and education about the animals.

Quincy Market
Head to Quincy Market for a bustling building full of delicious food choices. I had to get some famous New England clam chowder (in a bread bowl!) while in Boston which we took to eat outside and it was so delicious. I wish I could have another bowl right now...

Mike's Pastry
Mike's boasts that it's "Home of the Cannoli" and I understand why. I had never been to an Italian bakery before, but I knew I had to get a cannoli while in the North End which is Boston's Italian neighborhood. My friend Julie told me I had to go to Mike's and when we stepped in the door, we knew we'd gone to the right place because it was packed. I didn't even know that flavored cannoli's existed, but I had delicious mint and hazelnut ones. I somehow forgot to even take a photo in my glee!

Have you been to Boston before? If so, leave me your suggestions in the comments because I'm positive I will be returning in the next few years. x

Monday, September 4, 2017

September Goals

I wanted to share an update on my August goals with you all as well as creating some for September. August was a productive month for me and I'm happy to report that I made progress on every one of my goals!

Goal Update - August Goals

(1) Upload four videos to my YouTube channel. I achieved this goal! I uploaded two sit-down chatty vlogs and the last two Disney vlogs. I also pre-filmed two different videos to post in September, so I'm quite pleased with my channel progress in August.

(2) Prepare for my move. In August, I did my visa application, finalized my housing, completed my registration, and bought my flights. I'm almost all set to head over on September 20! I even started making my packing list, which obviously I'll be working on a lot more in September.

(3) Clean my room. I made a lot of progress on this goal in August even though I'm not finished. Most impressively, I went through all of my books and rearranged my shelves! I also have been helping my little sister clean her room and we've made some significant progress in there.

(4) Keep working out. This month, I actually met with a trainer at my country club's gym and devised a workout routine which I've been going to the gym to do! I did it twice a week for the first three weeks of the month and although I didn't go in the last week of August, I did work out at home. I've actually fallen a bit in love with weight lifting (who could ever have guessed?).

September Goals

(1) Pack for the move. I've already begun a packing list for my move to London, but obviously packing is going to take up a lot of this month.

(2) Pre-write and pre-film some content for the end of September. I don't want my blog and channel to go silent during my move, but I know that I won't have time for making content for at least a week. Therefore, I really want to schedule some things to post ahead of time.

(3) Finish cleaning my room. This one is a bit of a roll-over goal from last month, but before I leave I need to tackle some of my things I never unpacked after I moved out from my college apartment and...the top of my closet.

(4) Launch my new study abroad blog! I've decided that I'll be keeping a more diary-like blog for my time in London like I did while at Sussex and at St Andrews as I've already had several family members and former professors tell me they'd like to read one. I started setting up a Wordpress blog for it because I thought it would be a good opportunity to gain some experience working on another blogging platform. I won't abandon this blog AT ALL and it will have plenty of London content, especially reviews. But I've already got the name and the URL for a travel diary type blog; I just need to fully launch it this month.

Let me know what your goals for the month are in the comments below or on Twitter! x

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy September! It always feels a bit strange to me when the first day of a new month falls on a Friday. Anyone else feel like every month should start on a Monday or is that just me?

Top Five: In honor of Tom Hiddleston's upcoming run as Hamlet, this article looks back on five of his past theatre roles. I was lucky enough to see Coriolanus when it was streamed to American cinemas and it's still one of my top theatre experiences despite not being live. This made me so excited that I managed to snag tickets to see his Hamlet!

Goodbye My Gypsy Lovers: If you're also weepy this week because Great Comet is closing, this round-up of covers of "No One Else" won't help. But it's great if, like me, you want to wallow in your sadness that this brilliant unique show won't be on Broadway anymore.

Tea Party: This Buzzfeed quiz lets you plan a tea party and tells you which British actor will come to it. I'm quite pleased with my result of Sam Claflin.

Percy's Back: I was so sad when The Lightning Thief musical closed off-Broadway before I got to see it. But this past week, it was announced that it will tour the United States starting in fall 2018 and I couldn't be more excited as I was obsessed with Percy Jackson in middle school.

Journey to Backstage: I'm so thrilled that Anastasia's Christy Altomare is the newest vlogger. Her first two vlogs have been absolutely adorable; she's such a ray of sunshine!

Monday, August 28, 2017

What I Wore at Disney

In honor of my last Disney vlog (hopefully) being uploaded this week, I thought I would end my Disney content for this summer with a post about what I wore on my Disney World vacation! One of my favorite parts of a Disney vacation is packing for Disney and figuring out what I will wear every day (my sister and I filmed a whole video about it!). 

However, this summer I had the challenge of going to Disney during one of the hottest times of the year. Therefore, I had to figure out how to dress cute and Disney themed while ensuring that I wouldn't absolutely melt because of the heat. 

What I wore can be sorted into a few categories: Disney dresses, Disney t-shirts, and character themed outfits. Now, I could definitely just wear a different Disney t-shirt every day, but I like to change it up to make it more fun! 

Disney Dresses
I absolutely love Disney themed dresses with prints of Disney characters. My sister, Hannah, has a whole collection and I have a fair few myself. (I even wore my Beauty and the Beast one to see the live action film!) My favorite place to buy them is Hot Topic because they have a wide variety and aren't too pricey. 

My favorite movie when I was a little girl was The Aristocats so I couldn't resist this Marie dress and bow! 

Disney T-Shirts
I love Disney t-shirts and have a fairly impressive collection. My friends even have a running joke about how many Star Wars t-shirts I have. This trip, I was so excited to wear my Millennial Falcon shirt in Hollywood Studios (Kylo Ren even commented on it!) and my new Moana shirt to the Magic Kingdom. Yes, I always theme my outfit to the park I'm going to. My favorite places to buy Disney t-shirts are actually Target and the Disney Store, but you can find them lots of places. 

Character Themed Outfits 
If you're an avid Disney fan, you may be aware of "Disney-bounding": dressing up as a Disney character in a subtle way. There are whole Instagram accounts and blogs dedicated to the phenomenon. My biggest tip is to try to meet the character you're dressed as while you're there if you can. I loved taking photos in the Norway pavilion in Epcot in my Princess Anna outfit and when I met her, she even pointed out that we were dressed alike! 

just a subtle Rapunzel colored outfit!

How do you like to dress when you're at a Disney park? Let me know in the comments down below x

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Sorry that I totally missed doing a Friday Internet Finds last week, but I'm making it up with this week's hopefully! (I'd rather not post one than put one out that I don't think is actually worthy of sharing with you guys.)

Actual Hamilton: The New York Times published a great article about the actual music that Alexander Hamilton would have listened to, including the British song that inspired the musical's song, "Yorktown."

Go Phoenix: This list from Playbill shares the ten most represented colleges on Broadway right now, including a list of all performers from each school. I was so pleased (and proud!) to see a classmate's name on the list, who's recently made his Broadway debut in Book of Mormon.

GBBO: Lately my whole family has been obsessed with watching "Great British Bake Off" so I couldn't resist this quiz which tells you how far you would make it on the show. Good news: I would win!

Carrying the Banner (to Netflix): Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know that I'm a huge proponent of filming Broadway shows and making them available to the public. So this announcement that the filmed Newsies that showed in cinemas earlier this year is coming to Netflix absolutely thrilled me. It'll be up on the streaming service on September 5.

Lin Crossing: I always adore James Corden's crosswalk musicals, but Lin being in one is an absolute dream come true.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Best Walt Disney World Photo Spots!

I thought I should share some of my favorite photo spots at Walt Disney World with you all. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I went to Disney World for a week with my family back in June and took tons of photos.

All Disney parks fans will know the iconic spots -- in front of Spaceship Earth in Epcot, the famous 'purple wall' in the Magic Kingdom, by Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. So I wanted to share some of my favorite photo opportunities in my favorite three parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios) that are a bit more unique.

Character Photos
I think that character meet and greets make for great photos. Whether your favorite is Mickey Mouse, Stitch, Ariel, or Kylo Ren, there are so many options to choose from! My personal favorites are princesses and Star Wars characters. Meeting characters in their indoor venues can also be a great break from the heat if you go in the summer months.

With Cinderella in the Magic Kingdom

With Princess Anna in Epcot

With Chewbacca in Hollywood Studios

Epcot Country Photos 
There are so many photo opportunities in Epcot in the different countries of the World Showcase! Two of my favorites are the red phone booth in the United Kingdom pavilion and the rocky waterfall in the Norway pavilion (right by the exit of the new Frozen ride). I think the mosaics in Morocco would also be a great backdrop!

Castle Photos (no, not that castle!) 
Cinderella's castle isn't the only castle in Disney World...there are two more in the new Fantasyland expansion! I love taking photos by the Beast's little castle by Be Our Guest restaurant and my sister loves Prince Eric's castle which houses the Ariel ride.

By Prince Eric's castle

Hidden Photo Spots 
There are also so many great photo spots tucked around the park if you look for them. My personal favorite is the Tangled themed bathrooms in Magic Kingdom right by It's a Small World and Peter Pan's Flight. You feel like you've stepped into the kingdom of Corona! I also love the little Imperial Speeder Bike that you can take photos of out in front of Star Tours in Hollywood Studio. It's perfect for Star Wars fans of any age.

What are your favorite places to take photos at Disney World? Let me know in the comments down below! x

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Top Five Tips for Self Care

My dear friend, Fletcher, spent this summer living and interning in New York City where he will also return for the fall semester. He wrote a blog post about the importance of self-care especially when you're living in a city. It made me reflect upon my own summer in New York so I commented to share some tips with him for when he returns.

I'm moving to a city again next month, although a new one -- London! I'll need to ensure that I'm taking care of myself in order to not be exhausted by the city. I decided to expand a bit on some of what I told Fletcher and share my Top 5 Tips for Self Care with you guys. I tried to shy away from the obvious -- get enough sleep, meditate, take baths, etc -- and share some more unique things that I've found work for me.

ONE: Drink more water. However much you're drinking, you probably need to drink more. Especially if you're consuming alcohol, coffee, or fizzy drinks. It makes my body feel so much better, it makes my skin better, and it makes me feel accomplished and like I have my life together. 

TWO: Ask yourself what makes you happy and pursue it. If there's one thing that I learned in New York last summer, it's that I need to immerse myself in the arts. Anytime I was surrounded by theatre or a museum gallery, I was happy even if I hadn't slept enough or was having a bad day before then. I learned that I am going to need to pursue a career in the arts to make living in a big city worth all the hassle for me. 

THREE: Be active. This is a hard one for me because I have all sorts of self-doubt thoughts that are related to exercise. But just doing a short Pilates video or going for a walk (parks like Central Park in NYC or Hyde Park in London are so great for this!) makes me feel so much better. Lately, I've been working out with weights at my gym twice a week with a routine made for me by a personal trainer and I've felt so much better. I think it has something to do with happy endorphins? 

FOUR: Find what calming technique works for you. I don't think traditional meditation works for everyone. Try it (maybe with an app like Headspace) and if it works, great! If not, try ASMR videos or find songs that make you feel like you can take on the world, or at least a big city, and make a playlist of them. Last summer, I had a playlist of songs that I would listen to while walking around the city to keep myself feeling like I could conquer it. ("Bright Star" from the musical Bright Star is a really lovely one for when you're feeling down.) 

FIVE: Be honest with yourself and seek help if you need it. Especially if you have anxiety, depression, or another mental illness, it's important to understand when to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and when to take care of yourself. Try to listen to your body and give yourself breaks from the hustle of city life. Also, don't be afraid to reach out -- to a counselor, a friend, or a family member -- and talk about the issues you're having. 

Do you all have any self care methods that work for you? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below! x

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Review: Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

I can't believe it took me this long to read Louise Pentland's debut novel, Wilde Like Me. Louise Pentland is the lovely lady behind the YouTube channel largely known as Sprinkle of Glitter, but this is certainly not just another "YouTuber book." It's a stunning first novel (of what I hope will be many!) with lovable but real characters, witty dialogue, and a plot line unlike any I've ever read.

I don't want to give away too much, but Wilde Like Me is the story of Robin Wilde, a single mum trying to get back into dating, figure out how to raise her daughter, and further her career as a makeup artist's assistant. Robin is relatable in how she struggles and I particularly appreciated the concept of "the Emptiness," that Louise used to talk about Robin's feelings of depression.

I also adored Lyla, Robin's six year old daughter, who always tries to cheer her mum up in the way only little kids can. I just wish that I could babysit her! I hope that she figures prominently in any future sequels to Wilde Like Me. Robin also gets a lot of help and support from her friend, Lacey, and her Aunt Kath, both of whom I loved.

I thought that Louise did particularly well at giving all the minor characters flaws, struggles, and interests of their own separate from their connection to Robin. This is something that some new writers seem to struggle with, but Louise totally avoided it.

Louise's prose itself is definitely on level with any good adult literature -- not Tolstoy perhaps, but that's why it would be a good beach read. (Although, I wasn't willing to take my copy onto the beach because I was afraid it would get hurt in some way.)

One thing that surprised me about Wilde Like Me is how Louise managed to take a plot that seems like it would be fluffy and indue it with astounding depth. Robin's struggle over her relationship with Lyla's dad, her fears about messing up her daughter's life, and her challenge of being a career woman and a mom are touching and real.

This is a novel that I think any woman would love. It has some 'adult' content and language, so it is more suited to mature readers. I think that many men would even appreciate this novel, particularly anyone who has experienced single parenthood.

In all honesty, I wish that I could live within this novel. I feel as though Robin, Lyla, Lacey, and all the others are dear friends and ones whose stories I hope to get more of. So Louise, about that sequel...?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

What a strange week for Broadway fans! With two shows announcing their closing, big Hamilton announcements, and other news, it has been a bit of a whirlwind.

Ham 4 App: Hamilton launched their own app this morning, which allows you to enter the lottery for all productions, buy tickets, and use fun photo filters. Lin tweeted the announcement and shared that he'll be back on Twitter next week.

The Heat is On: The heat is certainly on in Saigon with the latest Broadway Style Guide profile which features Alistair Brammer. Not only are the photos stunning, but he proves what a lovely kind person he is. (Sometimes I'm just very proud that the 20-year-old guy I became a fan of turned into such a wonderful man.)

Goodbye My Gypsy Lovers: If you're a Broadway fan, you've likely already heard that Great Comet announced that it will close on September 3, following recent controversies. The cast put together a beautiful video celebrating the diversity the show brought to Broadway and hoping that its journey isn't over yet.

Swinging Out: Sadly this week, Bandstand also announced that it will close in September. I'm so sad to see this beautiful show with Corey Cott and Laura Osnes go, especially as I never got to see it. If you'll be in New York before September 17, go see it while you can!

Meet Anastasia: I became a fan of Christy Altomare through my friend Lucy who adores her, but this video gave me ten more reasons to love her (other than her stunning vocals and the fact that she's like a real life Disney princess).

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Great Comet

Yesterday news came that Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 is closing on Broadway. It comes as little surprise following the casting controversy of the past few weeks, but it's heartbreaking nonetheless.

I don't want to touch on the reasons for its closing, the way that social media may have contributed to it, or what mistakes producers may have made in this post. I simply want to plead that anyone with the ability to do so goes to see this brilliant show.

I shared the following text on Facebook and wanted to share it on here too. I'm gutted that I only got to see the show once and can't manage a trip to New York to see it again before the show's closing on September 3. So please, if you're able to go see it, do.

If you are in New York, do whatever you can to see this show before it closes. Especially if you can see it August 22 to September 3 when Dave Malloy, the show's writer/composer/lyricist/orchestrator, will be stepping into the role of Pierre once again.

I truly can't put into words what Great Comet has meant to me or what it's taught me about innovation, creativity, diversity, or the human condition. It renewed my faith in humanity, my hope for the future, and my love for the arts. It has touched my soul and I feel that I'm a better person for falling in love with this show. This cast is made up of some of the kindest, weirdest, most beautiful humans in New York and maybe the whole world.

The show deserved so much better than it got and I hope that it will have a future one day in London or even maybe in New York years from now. But to my point, if you have any chance to, please see this show because there's nothing like it on Broadway or coming in the next season.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Top 5 West End Performances I'm Looking Forward To

Now that I know that I'm moving to London for the next year, I'm getting quite excited about some upcoming West End performances -- especially ones I already knew about but didn't think I would get a chance to see. I wanted to share with you all my five top ones I can't wait for. Let me know what performances you're excited about in the comments down below! x

Killian Donnelly as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables
After his run as Charlie Price on Broadway, Killian Donnelly returned to the show that he got his start in to play Jean Valjean. Ever since he was a swing and went on for Valjean years ago, I've wanted Killian to return to the show. Honestly, seeing Les Mis again is my first priority when I get to London because it's my favorite show, the Queen's Theater is my favorite theater, and Killian is my favorite actor. You can buy tickets here.

Natalie Dormer as Vanda Jordan in Venus in Fur 
Natalie Dormer has been my favorite film actress for a long time so I'm thrilled at the opportunity to get to see her live. You may know her from her roles in TV shows like Game of Thrones or The Tudors or movies including The Scandalous Lady W or The Riot Club. In Venus in Fur, Dormer will play opposite David Oakes (The Borgias) in a special nine week limited engagement. You can find out more and book tickets here

Rachelle Ann Go as Eliza Schuyler in Hamilton 
I've been lucky enough to see Rachelle Ann Go as Gigi in Miss Saigon three times (twice in London, once in New York) and she never fails to stun me. I had high hopes that she would be cast in the West End production of Hamilton and was thrilled when she scored the role of Eliza, which I know she will excel in. While tickets are sold out from their opening in November through April, I have high hopes of winning the lottery or grabbing a ticket when they release more -- mostly to see Rachelle in a lead role! You can find out more here.

Gina Beck as Miss Honey in Matilda 
I adored Gina Beck as Galinda in Wicked and was so sad to miss seeing her in Showboat. It was announced today that she'll be playing the gentle teacher Miss Honey in Matilda from September. My sister is a fan of the show but I've never seen it before so I'm doubly looking forward to it. I know that she's going to be absolutely stunning, plus Matilda offers seats on the day of for just 5 pounds for those aged 16-25. You can book tickets here.

Tom Hiddleston as Hamlet 
Of course, it's unclear if we really needed another production of Hamlet but I adore Tom Hiddleston and the man seems made for Shakespeare. I saw him in the National Theatre broadcast of Coriolanus a few years ago and still count it as one of the most impressive performances I've ever seen. He will be playing the role for three weeks in September, directed by Kenneth Branagh, to benefit their alma mater the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Tickets are extremely limited and are being done through a ballot system, so pray for me that I get a ticket. You can find out more here.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday everyone! This week, I realized how fun it is when West End news comes out and I realize that I might be able to see the shows themselves. How cool is that?

#SaveGreatComet: Broadway Bot published this article discussing why Great Comet is so important to Broadway right now and why it should be saved from going under despite the recent PR disaster. 

Lady Mary: In light of the news that Michelle Dockery is joining National Theatre's Network, I thought this "Which Downton Abbey Lady Are You?" quiz was quite cute. (I actually got Lady Mary, which kind of surprised me!

The Crown Prince of Denmark: Earlier this week, it was announced that Tom Hiddleston will be playing Hamlet in a limited engagement production in September directed by Kenneth Branagh to benefit their alma mater, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. However, tickets are very limited. (Fingers crossed I get one!)

Totally Gagged: Gagged Chokers recently released a collection called "Broadway Boyfriends," which is full of chokers inspired by the best male characters on Broadway. Most of them are already sold out, but you can still get "Sincerely, Me" inspired by Evan Hansen.

Evan Sees Dear Evan Hansen: One of my favorite (non-theatre) YouTubers, Evan Edinger, recently put up a cute travel vlog from him seeing Dear Evan Hansen in New York.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

July Favorites

In case any of you aren't subscribed to my YouTube channel, I wanted to share my July Favorites video with you. It features makeup (including Intermission Beauty!), skincare, fashion, books, and other media. Enjoy x

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August Goals

Since it's the beginning of a new month, I wanted to share my August goals with all of you!

(1) Upload four videos to my YouTube channel. I haven't been uploading as much as I like to over this summer, partially because I've been traveling so much. I have one last Disney vlog to edit and then I've filmed two more videos already. I'm hoping I can get at least four videos up this month, if not five or six!

(2) Prepare for my move. There's so much to do for my move to London that I want to get a lot of it done this month. I'm working on my visa, have my housing almost set, and have been sent the link to do my registration. I also need to figure out my flights and phone plan for while I'm there. If I can get most of this done in August, I can focus on packing in September.

(3) Clean my room. Because my family has been at the beach for a lot of the summer, I haven't finished sorting through my room or even through the things I brought home from college. I definitely have to finish that this month, especially once my sister starts school on the 15th.

(4) Keep working out. I've been working out, both walking on the treadmill and doing Blogilates videos. I want to keep doing this, as I need to be ready for the amount of walking I'll be doing once I move to London.

Let me know what your goals for this month are down below in the comments. x

Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday! What a week I've had: getting into a Master's program, finding out I'll be moving to London in two months, trying to figure out my visa and housing...remember last week when I said I wasn't going back to school? Oops.

With this move to London, the content on my blog will likely shift towards more West End coverage than Broadway. Of course, I'll still be covering major Broadway news and am in no way cutting myself off from that community -- I'm still planning on moving to New York after I graduate. But for now, get ready for lots of West End reviews and other London-themed content. (And if anyone has tips on cheap tickets, do let me know.)

Food Glorious Food: I figured this Buzzfeed quiz was a good pick for this'll serve as my check list for British restaurants to try. I got 11/36, so 25 to go!

The Dark Lord: It's newly announced that Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo will play the titular roles of National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra. I'm definitely planning on trying to snag a ticket to this production, but as it's National Theatre, it's also likely that fans across the UK and US will be able to see it in cinemas.

Stage to Stage: Josh Groban's forthcoming coffee table book, Stage to Stage, is now available for pre-order. It will be released in September and I know what the number 1 item on my Christmas list is.

Oh Pierre: Unfortunately this week, Great Comet announced that Oak (Okriette Onaodowan) is leaving the show for Mandy Patinkin to step into the role of Pierre. No offense to Mandy, but I really feel bad for Oak, especially as I've heard amazing things about his portrayal. This article from the New York Times describes why some people (including me!) are upset about this blatant show of capitalism in the arts.

So Broadway, Much Ingrid: The Great Comet's Ingrid Michaelson describes five things that make her "so Broadway" in this adorable video.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

I Am Sailing Off to London

Remember how I said that I would update you once I knew what I was doing? I'm elated to announce that in September, I'll be moving to London to pursue my Master's in Culture, Policy, and Management at City University of London!

Surprised? Yeah, me too. Some of you may remember that back in the fall I was busy researching grad schools in the United Kingdom and getting ready to apply. Then, my sister got sick and I dropped it all. Lately, I've been having a lot of trouble in the job search and was thinking about going back to get an arts administration degree because it would make me a much stronger candidate for the jobs I really want.

Last week, I checked to see if any of the universities I had been looking at before accepted students to start in the spring and discovered one of my top choices (City) still had some spots left on the perfect course for the fall! I put together an application quickly and sent it off, not expecting to be accepted. (In truth, after doing so many job applications and hearing nothing, I was kind of surprised to hear anything at all.)

Before I knew it I was filling out immigration paperwork "just in case" and then received my offer. I was pleased to accept and put down my deposit. Since then have been attempting to figure out my visa and housing for next year as I leave at the end of September.

I absolutely can't wait to live in London. Every so often I get a little bit terrified (cue the "What have I done, sweet Jesus, what have I done?" thoughts), but I'm excited to live in a land of Primark, Tesco, and tea kettles everywhere. The more I learn about the university, the more I adore it and I've strangely gotten an addiction to watching Tesco and Sainsbury's food hauls on YouTube?

Of course, I'm having a bit of a headache trying to figure out my Student Visa. In fact, me going is all pending that we're able to get the visa and it arrives in time, which is making my anxiety levels (which previously had been doing pretty well at summer) shoot through the roof. And I've got to figure out somewhere to live!

But for now, I'm so pleased and shocked that I know what I'm doing this year and it's moving to my favorite city on earth. Get excited for all kind of London content! Because, as Angelica Schuyler says, "I am sailing off to London..."

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Line Where the Sky Meets the Sea

I've been at the beach all week, so naturally I can't singing Moana music and I couldn't resist the title of this post. My parents recently bought a beach condo so I've been spending my days at the North Carolina coast doing job applications on the balcony for the most part.

The other day my mom took my little sister and I down to the beach to do some photos. I couldn't resist putting on my favorite shirt of the summer, along with my trusty Madewell jeans. This white eyelet shirt is gorgeously structured and the eyelet design is beautiful but somehow doesn't show your bra. I love it because it can be paired with jeans for a casual look or with dress pants for a more business occasion.

Unfortunately the shirt is now sold out, but the jeans are still available.

Photos: Sherry Ackman

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday, everyone! I've been at the coast all week but working on job applications. It feels like summer is slipping by far too quickly...but doesn't it always feel like that? I almost had a breakdown in the back to school section in Target the other day when I realized that I'm never going 'back to school' again. Strange.

Winner, Winner: Dear Evan Hansen is the latest Broadway musical to recoup their investments. It's no surprise that DEH is a hit, but it's always good to see any show thriving.

The Will Power: The Globe Theater in London has announced its first live cinema broadcast. In late September, it will air King Lear hopefully in theatres across the United Kingdom. (Tickets are on sale now!) I'm hoping that they add some US dates as well. And no, I couldn't resist that Something Rotten reference.

Luck Be a Lady: This Buzzfeed quiz will tell you which musical theatre leading lady you are. I was a little surprised to get Eliza Schuyler from Hamilton, but I can't argue with it.

Ooh-De-Lally: Apparently Robin Hood is Broadway bound. The production now at the Dallas Theatre Center has its eye on Broadway; I'm curious to see what kind of adaption this musical is.

The Iron Throne: One of my favorite theatre YouTubers recently did a dream cast of Broadway and West End stars who would be perfect in a Game of Thrones musical adaption. My personal favorite casting might be Christian Borle as Littlefinger.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Review: Intermission Beauty

When I saw a Broadway themed line of beauty products on Laura Osnes's Insta-story one night, I was immediately intrigued. Imagine my delight when I logged onto their website and saw that they had one named after my very favorite show, Miss Saigon! 

They have lines of both lipsticks and matte liquid lipsticks (the 'Breaking Down' lipstick is especially popular, probably due to Stephanie J. Block's love for it). If there's anything I adore, it's a matte liquid lipstick and everything about this one is magnificent.

The packaging is wonderful as well, as it comes in a cute little box wrapped in red tissue paper in the parcel. I'm quite impressed with the branding.

As for the Miss Saigon lipstick, I'm absolutely in love. I've worn it twice since it arrived in the mail and both times it stayed on for many hours despite eating. The color is really a beautiful pink, more vibrant than it would typically wear but quite lovely. The texture wasn't sticky and it dried quickly after application. The heat is on, indeed!

I can't recommend these lipsticks enough. While they're a little pricey at $20, they're no worse than your typical liquid lipstick of this quality; they're comparable in price and quality to Smashbox ($24 each) and Kat Von D ($20). They're a great little indulgence for yourself or would be an amazing gift for a friend.

I imagine you'll be seeing more of these on my YouTube channel and Instagram...I've already got my eye on the Kinky Boots liquid lipstick and the Head Shot lipstick! Let me know if you order one and what you think of it.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

I hope all my American readers had a great Fourth of July holiday. I spent the long weekend at my family's new beach condo -- mostly, we were fixing it up to use for the rest of the summer. However, tomorrow I fly out to Florida to spend a few days with friends down there.

I wanted to squeeze some content in for the day and a half that I'm actually home, so without further ado, here's a new edition of Friday Internet Finds where I round up some of the best theatre links I've found this week.

Popular: Buzzfeed shared this quiz to determine how mainstream your opinions about musicals are. (But what I'd really like to know if who everyone's favorite Schuyler Sister is.)

Shakespeare in Space: The first photos were released of Star Wars's Oscar Issac as the tortured prince in the Public Theater's production of Hamlet and they are well worth a look. I really hope I get a chance to see this production before it closes in September as it's the intersection of everything I love (theatre, literature, and Star Wars).

Stage to Stage: Josh Groban announced that he will release a coffee table book detailing his experiences making his Broadway debut in Great Comet. More details to come soon about preordering it, but I'm positive it will be proudly displayed in my living room soon next to my Great Comet book.

The [Blog] in My Mind: If you're not already reading it, make sure to bookmark Eva Noblezada's blog which contains her insightful and often touching musings about her life and her Broadway debut in Miss Saigon. 

Sonya Together: This week, Brittain Ashford released a YouTube video of her and her Sonya replacement, singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson, singing "Sonya Alone" together and we have truly been blessed by angels. 

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