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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. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: The Boathouse at Disney Springs

On my family's vacation to Disney World last week, we went to Disney Springs for the first time. If you haven't been to Disney in a while, you might know it as Downtown Disney; it's a beautiful area with shops and restaurants. 

Since we took Thursday off from the parks to recuperate a little, we headed to Disney Springs with the help of my cousin Marisa who lives in Orlando. She recommended The Boathouse for lunch, a cute boating themed restaurant that boasts incredible seafood and a wide selection of drinks. 

We couldn't have been more pleased with our delicious food or the calming relaxed atmosphere, a big change from being in the parks! Everyone at the table (well, except my little sister) ordered a beer from the Funky Buddha brewery which is local to Florida. The waiter described The Floridian as similar to a Blue Moon, my favorite, and I absolutely loved it.

My mom and I both started with the Maine Lobster Bisque which was amazing. I could have done with a bit more actual lobster in it, but I feel like I can't complain because the flavor was so incredible.

For my meal, I ordered one of the specials: a Shrimp Po-Boy. My only complaint is that I have no idea how they intended for me to eat this sandwich. It was served on an incredible, but thick, baguette with fresh tomato and lettuce. I ended up eating off a lot of the shrimp before attempting to pick it up (well, after my first failed try).

I got truffle fries as my side but my sister ordered one of the "Sides to Share" to go along with her soup as her meal. They're not kidding when they say you can share the sides! She basically received a mountain of delicious truffle fries.

The Boathouse is definitely a restaurant I'll return to on our next trip to Disney. It's a bit on the pricey side, but no worse than your average upscale seafood restaurant. If you go, definitely try one of their beers and the truffle fries! x

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Life Update | I Graduated??

The reason I've been somewhat silent on this blog lately is because I was busy with graduating from college and then recovering from the chaos of moving home. Yes, I graduated from university!! Normal content should resume soon, with some Disney World posts and Friday Internet Finds.

On May 20, I graduated magna cum laude from Elon University with a BA in Strategic Communications and History with a minor in French. It's strange to think that my four years are already over -- but I feel like a completely different person than I was when I started, as cliché as that is.

my amazing parents and little sister
While at Elon, I studied abroad at the University of Sussex and the University of St Andrews, did a Winter Term trip to Disney World and Disneyland, and did internships in Raleigh, NC and New York City. I completed my Honors Fellows thesis project (and even got a scholarship for it!) on the salonnières, women who ran salons in Enlightenment Paris. I also worked for Elon's newspaper, history department, and comedy sketch TV show, Elon Tonight.

With my roommate Brian and best friends MaryClaire and Lauren
In all honesty, I have some regrets about my time at Elon and things I would do differently if I could do it over. I regret not majoring in Arts Administration or minoring in Theatre Studies. Most days, I wish that I had gone back to the University of Sussex instead of going to St Andrews (but then I remember I wouldn't have met my darling friend, Lucy, and I take it back!). And, I'm graduating with no job yet in a friend group of people who mostly have their plans sorted which has been difficult.

with my best friend, future broadway star kimmy
Those difficulties aside, I had a wonderful graduation day. I had family who had come from across North Carolina, Florida, and Illinois and friends who had flown back from being in LA all spring just for graduation week. Plus, I had my amazing roommates (one of whom was my freshman year roommate!) and other incredible friends. (And there's something a little funny in watching the first boy you ever kissed get his diploma!)

with my new diploma!!
All day, all I could think of was how lucky I was to have these stupendous, kind, intelligent people beside me. I perhaps summed it up best on my Instagram post, or rather Dave Malloy summed it up best with Natasha's line in Great Comet: "And for the first time in many days, I weep tears of gratitude, tears of tenderness, tears of thanks."

Check out my video for more information and musings!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday! Or rather, Friday evening as this is going up a bit late in the day. I've taken three exams in the past day and a half and only have one more left now. Are any of you dealing with exams right now? Thank goodness for the Broadway news that gets me through the day.

No One Else: I was so excited when I saw this "Which Great Comet Character Are You?" quiz from Buzzfeed earlier this week. (Though I think this one is actually better.) I got Natasha on both of them; let me know what you get in the comments!

Happy Easter: NBC has announced that their next televised live musical will be Jesus Christ Superstar on Easter Sunday of this coming year. Thoughts?

Ben Platt, the Unicorn?: This New York Times article examines Ben Platt's nightly transformation into anxiety-riddled teen Evan Hansen, how he got the role, and how he's taking care of himself mentally and physically.

Wait for It: In the fall, I wrote my communications capstone paper on how Hamilton's marketing team has dealt with the issue of ticket scarcity. It was published in Elon's Communications Journal which came out this week, so now you can read it here.

Broadway's Favorite Vlogger: Need a recap of every show that's been on Broadway this year? Check out Playbill's Tyler Mount, who is without a doubt one of the best Broadway vloggers ever.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Review: Kinky Boots Broadway

A Kinky Boots review is better late than never, right? In March, I finally got the chance to see my favorite actor Killian Donnelly as Charlie Price on Broadway. Kinky Boots is actually one of my favorite shows, as I saw it last summer on Broadway and I saw the tour in the fall. However, it's the West End cast album with Killian that I've always listened to so I was so excited to finally see him in the role.

There was definitely something in the air because the audience went wild over the show. I was lucky to have an amazing orchestra seat (thanks, Mom and Dad!) for this moment that I'd been waiting for. I think that the show's message of acceptance and love has become even more important with our current political climate. I recommend it to anyone going to New York!

I loved Taylor Louderman as Wendy in Peter Pan Live! so I was so excited to see her as the quirky and too relatable Lauren, who works at Price & Sons. Her Lauren was so adorable that I don't think anyone could not root for her! She gave her a depth that I think the character sometimes lacks, much as I love her. And her "History of Wrong Guys" was absolutely amazing!

I was lucky enough to see J. Harrison Ghee as Lola on tour and he has only improved since making the leap to Broadway. His Lola is absolutely legendary, as he handles humor and drama equally well. His "Hold Me In Your Heart" made me cry once again! I also never fail to be impressed by his dancing, which is utterly fantastic.

Killian Donnelly as Charlie Price was everything I'd hoped for and more. If only we could keep him on Broadway for longer! Charlie is a difficult character in some ways because he's really not very likable to be honest. But Killian manages to make him sympathetic and really portrays his crisis about how to proceed with his life. Killian's "Soul of a Man" is the stuff of legends, but he also shines in songs like "Everybody Say Yeah" and Charlie's soliloquies.

While Kinky Boots is always an amazing show, the current cast truly shines and makes the source material even better. I highly recommend going to see it if you're in the city!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday! This was a big week for the theatre fans with the Tony Awards nominations on Tuesday. There were some definite surprises (Allison Janney getting snubbed, Mike Faist winning out the Featured Actor nomination over Will Roland), but I was so pleased for everyone nominated! What did you guys think?

Style through the Years: This absolutely beautiful People Magazine article chronicles the different time periods of fashion present on Broadway right now from Anastasia to The Bandstand. 

A Little Preview: The Broadway cast album for Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 will be released later this month on May 19, but they've uploaded their new recording of "Letters" to their YouTube channel. It's my absolute favorite song in the show!

I Got Lina??: I was so excited when I saw Buzzfeed's new "Which 'Singin' in the Rain' Character Are You?" quiz, but then I got Lina? Please let me know what you guys get!

You Get To Choose: The Audience Awards are now allowing you to vote for nominations. Make sure to fill out the form and vote for all your favorites (but especially vote for Alistair Brammer!).

City of Stars: Now, my friends will tell you that I absolutely hated La La Land. However, I'm in love with this beautiful cover of "City of Stars" by my faves, Carrie Hope Fletcher and Pete Bucknall.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Tony Award Nomination Predictions

Tomorrow is one of the most important days of the year for theatre nerds everywhere...Tony Award nomination day. I was lucky enough to be a part of an exciting new podcast series, Next Best Theatre, where we discussed our predictions for all the main awards. You can check out the podcast here and keep reading for all my predictions for the musicals categories.

Featured Actress in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Jenn Colella, Come From Away
Brittain Ashford, Great Comet
Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly! 

Featured Actor in a Musical
Andrew Rannells, Falsettos
Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
Michael Xavier, Sunset Boulevard
Lucas Steele, Great Comet
Nick Cordero, A Bronx Tale

Best Actress in a Musical
Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Patti LuPone, Warpaint
Christine Ebersole, Warpaint
Denée Benton, Great Comet
Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon

Best Actor in a Musical
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day
David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
Jon Jon Briones, Miss Saigon
Josh Groban, Great Comet

Best Musical Revival 
Hello, Dolly!
Miss Saigon 

Of course, there's a high chance that Sunset Boulevard will take the third nomination but I have to keep hoping for Miss Saigon.

Best Musical 
Dear Evan Hansen
Come from Away
Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812
Groundhog Day 

Don't forget that the Tony nominations are live-streamed on their website tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m., which will be hosted by Hamilton's Chris Jackson and She Loves Me's Jane Krakowski this year. Check back for my predictions for who will win each award later this month!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

If anyone has been reading my blog for a while, they might remember that I used to do roundups of fun Internet links every Friday. Recently, a friend asked me if I might consider bringing it back and I've decided to do so -- but with a twist.

For now (and I'll continue it if it goes well!), I'll be doing Friday Internet Finds but with all musical theatre related links. So make sure to check back every Friday for my fave Internet finds of musical theatre and theatre links of the week. And let me know in the comments below or on social media if you like these! x

Skimm for Broadway: If you want to stay up to date on daily Broadway news, consider subscribing to the Broadway Briefing newsletter. It includes important news, events happening that day, Broadway birthdays, and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Newsie No More: Dear Evan Hansen's Mike Faist opened up to MTV about playing the troubled Connor Murphy in Broadway's biggest hit of the season. He discussed how he's dealing with portraying a suicidal teen and why he rarely stage doors.

Things I Almost Remember: I got a perfect score on this "How Well Do You Know Anastasia?" quiz from How well can you do?

It's Bigger: This article explains how this year's Broadway season boasts the most new musicals since 1981...and what that means for the Tony Awards.

Charmante: As they approach the release of their Broadway cast album next month, Great Comet has been releasing music videos for their songs. This jazz club themed one of Amber Gray (who plays Hélène) singing "Charming" is absolutely stunning.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Review: Miss Saigon Broadway

Miss Saigon has been one of my favorite musicals since I discovered it years ago and it's much more than simply the show that shot Lea Salonga to stardom. I saw it last month, on March 24, to celebrate my sister's birthday. Based on the opera Madame Butterfly but set in the Vietnam War, it tells the story of a young American GI and a Vietnamese girl who are separated by the fall of Saigon. Furthermore, it brings light to the situation of the "bui doi" -- the half-American children born to Vietnamese women who had to deal with the stigma of their Western heritage. As a history major, how could I resist a show like this?

The music is written by the team that brought us Les Mis: Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil. It's a sumptuous score, alternating between dance numbers like "American Dream" and "The Heat is On" and soaring ballads like "I'd Give My Life for You" and "Why God Why." You can't leave the theatre without at least one song in your head. (If you'd like to listen, I recommend the recent live West End revival recording.)

This first Broadway revival takes after the recent West End one, even importing some of its cast. It's grittier than the original production and more focused on showing the atrocities of war. The sets are realistic enough to immerse you in the action and the costuming is lovely. Of course, it's the helicopter that many come to see and the effects surrounding it (especially with lighting and sound) are intense and impressive.

I could write whole essays on how fierce and wonderful Eva Noblezada is as Kim. Eva first played the role in London, right after graduating from high school (yes, I feel inferior in every way). Now back in her native United States after finishing up playing Eponine in Les Mis, it's clear that her Kim has only improved. Aside from her stunning vocals and acting that leaves me sobbing every time, I'm always impressed with how naturally she interacts with the young children who play Tam.

You can check out her singing "I'd Give My Life for You" at the Olivier Awards:

Though this was my third time seeing Miss Saigon, I've never seen anyone but Jon Jon Briones as the Engineer and I frankly never want to. It's a character with a tricky line to walk between comedic relief and showing the immorality that flourishes in wartime and Jon Jon executes it perfectly while also providing a humanity to the character. His "American Dream" is a show-stopper; the audience didn't stop applauding for several minutes the night that I saw it!

I truly didn't think that Alistair Brammer's Chris could be improved upon after seeing him in the West End, but Alistair proved me wrong. Alistair has been one of my favorite actors since I was sixteen and I'm so incredibly proud of him for being a leading man on Broadway, especially for a role like Chris which he seems born to play. (Yes, I feel like a proud little sister or something.) His voice is well-suited to the score and his "Why God Why" is the kind of performance that makes you remember why you love live theatre. However, it's his acting that impresses me the most: he truly shows a man broken by war and frustrated by his inability to help the people of a country torn apart. His "Confrontation" in Act II brought me to tears, especially his deliver of the heartbreaking line, "I'm an American, how could I fail to do good?" It's also worth saying that while his American accent was good in his West End performance, it's so impeccable now that I'm sure some are surprised to find out he's English!

If you have the chance, I would highly recommend seeing this beautiful and moving show before it leaves Broadway again in January as it's on a limited engagement. Worth seeing for any one of the three leads alone, it also boasts an impressive ensemble and cast of featured actors. For now, I'm just glad to have my favorite show back on Broadway, living the "American Dream."

Make sure to check out my full review video below x

Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

I never would have guessed that War and Peace would be great material for a musical, but that was before seeing Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812. I was lucky enough to see this masterpiece in March over my spring break at the Imperial Theater on Broadway. This new Tony Awards hopeful was written by Dave Malloy and is an adaption of a small part of Tolstoy's work. It follows Pierre through his existential crisis and Natasha through her anguish over the two men in her life, Andrey and Anatole.

I chose to see the show mostly because I had read so many good things about its immersive experience. They remodeled the Imperial Theater (where I have seen Les Mis three times) to include seating on the stage and ways for the actors to access the orchestra and balcony. With the actors all around you, it's hard not to get swept away in the action of the show. It has such an intimate feeling and if you're lucky, you might get handed a dumpling, shaker, or letter during the course of the musical!

However, even if it weren't one of the coolest theatrical experiences ever, the music itself is worth seeing the show. Dave Malloy has created a show that intermingles haunting melodies like Pierre's "The Great Comet of 1812" and Natasha's "No One Else" with rousing songs like "The Duel" and "Balaga." My sister and I both walked out the the theatre with the chorus of "Letters" stuck firmly in our heads! You can currently buy the Off-Broadway cast album featuring Malloy himself as Pierre and Philippa Soo as Natasha or wait until May when the Broadway cast album is released.

If you've not heard, Josh Groban is currently playing Pierre and I don't think I've ever been so surprised by a performance. Of course, I knew that Josh has a lovely voice but I wasn't prepared for his impressive acting performance. He brings a gravity and a realness to Pierre's struggle...and even made me wish I could play the accordion? If you have a chance to see him before he leaves the show in July, I would highly recommend it. I'm expecting a Tony nomination for this one!

No, I did not leave the lipstick mark on his cheek.
Denée Benton is absolutely stunning as the troubled ingenue Natasha. With a pure beautiful voice and an ability to portray emotion from across a theatre, it's easy to see why she was cast in the role. Natasha is definitely one of my favorite female roles on Broadway right now and Denée makes the audience feel for her.

While sadly I didn't get to see the great Lucas Steele as Anatole, I was lucky enough to see his understudy Blaine Krauss who was absolutely incredible. His charisma onstage was magnetic and he sang the (rather difficult) role wonderfully. Though Anatole is somewhat of a cad (spoilers!), I couldn't help but be drawn to him and found myself watching him in scenes with the ensemble. I also just can't help but be impressed by any understudy or swing in a show with blocking this difficult!

If you only have the chance to see one show from this Broadway season, I would pick Great Comet because there's simply nothing else like it. While the plot is admittedly complicated and perhaps somewhat difficult to follow, the beautiful music, set, and costumes are absolutely a must-see. And who might come away with a War and Peace obsession like I did.

Make sure to check out my video review on my YouTube channel as well! x

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tale as Old as Time: Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Growing up, Belle was always my favorite princess (now that spot belongs to Rapunzel or Anna of course). A bookworm who feels out of place in her village and longs for something could little Nicole not relate? I first saw a bit of the Beauty and the Beast film last January when I got a tour of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California and they gave us a sneak peek. I've been waiting impatiently ever since! But since Belle has always had a place in my heart and the live action Cinderella is one of my favorite movies ever, I was very nervous that the movie wouldn't live up to my standards...

I am pleased to report that this film is in every way truly stunning and magical. It's a lovely adaption of the original, just changed enough to address all the plot holes that annoyed me as a child and make the Beast infinitely more charming. The CGI is absolutely incredible and the sets and scenery are breathtaking. I'll be surprised if it doesn't at least get Oscar nominations for costuming and sound mixing. I now want every single outfit Emma Watson wears in the film except maybe the yellow dress, which I've never liked.

Of course, one of my favorite parts of the film is the music...I'm so glad Disney decided to keep this one a movie musical! (And I'm sure they are too thanks to how well it's doing at the box office.) You can read my review of the soundtrack here, so I'll keep this short. I adore the new songs and have been listening to and singing "Evermore" almost constantly since I got the album. Emma Watson is no singer, but she does a passable job and I'm admittedly a bit obsessed with how wonderful Dan Stevens's and Luke Evans's voices are. I also love the handful of lyric changes, especially those in "Gaston" and "The Mob Song."

If you had allowed me to cast this movie, I certainly would have picked Emma Watson for Belle (since Laura Michelle Kelly is arguably too old for the part). She didn't disappoint in the least as her Belle was intelligent and spirited, yet still kind and compassionate. I thought that her acting shined most in the Paris scene, which had me crying!

I loved Dan Stevens in Downton Abbey and Summer in February, but I wasn't ready for how much I loved him as the Beast. He managed to act the part superbly despite the amount of CGI and his amazing voice absolutely floored me. I loved the changes to the Beast's character. By making him an intellectual with a great sense of humor, it made it much more believable that Belle would fall in love with him.

No one smirks like Gaston?
Luke Evans as Gaston was the star of the film for me, but the again I have a weakness for a well-trained voice. His Gaston was strangely charming at the beginning of the film, but was disturbingly sinister in a very real way by the end. One of my favorite changes from the original is that Gaston is a Captain and war hero, whose high rank in the town is well secured.

Josh Gad as LeFou was the perfect complement to Evans's Gaston. He was hilarious without being ridiculous and brought a moral complexity to the character that I didn't expect. This LeFou is definitely not the one-dimensional character of the animated film. I personally thought that his sexuality was subtle, but well done. I had initially been afraid it might be an offensively flamboyant portrayal, but it was actually so subtle that I'm wondering why people bothered boycotting it...

A Few of My Favorite Things:

  • Anything and everything to do with Belle's father, Maurice.
  • Audra McDonald as the Wardrobe/Mme Garderobe was hilarious, beautiful, and God that voice!!
  • How well this film grounded the story in location and time period.
  • The Prologue was visually beautiful and set up the story quite well.
  • Not any different from the original, but I'll never be over the cleverness of the last line of the Prologue ("For who could ever learn to love a Beast?") being answered by the song that immediately follows ("Belle")
  • The few bars of "Home" (from the Broadway production) being played when Belle arrived at her room in the castle 

A Few Complaints

  • I wanted to spend more time in Belle's village because it was so picturesque and intriguing.
  • I wanted to see a few more reunions at the end between the townsfolk and former enchanted objects.
  • It made me so sad that we didn't get to hear Luke Evans sing Gaston's solo from the Broadway production, "Me." 
  • I needed a featurette following the film immediately about how they filmed everything with the Beast because I'm so intrigued by the CGI that went into it.
For anyone who made it through this long review, if it's not clear by now, I highly recommend the film. In fact, I can't wait to go back and see it a second time! It's the kind of intricate and enjoyable film that will only get better with every subsequent viewing. While it hasn't surpassed Cinderella as my favorite Disney live action remake, Beauty and the Beast is easily a close second. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hollister Wish List

It's no surprise that I am obsessed with Hollister, which has certainly changed since my middle school days when it was all low-rise denim and brand name t-shirts. I'm absolutely in love with their new collection for spring and summer and wanted to share some of my faves pieces with you all!

I love this black "Icon Popover" shirt, which would look great tucked into jean shorts or a colorful skirt.

Florals for spring? Groundbreaking, I know, but this romper is absolutely lovely and comes in three different floral prints.

Lately, I have been loving long skirts and the button front is so popular.

This smocked off the shoulder romper is so unique; I actually haven't seen anything like it!

I love this peplum cami, which would pair nicely with jeans now and shorts later in the hot weather.

Are you loving Hollister's latest collection? Let me know in the comments down below and tell me what stores are your favorites! x
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