Last Tuesday, I went with a friend to see a developmental reading of a new musical with music and lyrics by Bruce Hornsby titled ‘Stranger.' It was originally given a reading at the Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk, Virginia last year and is currently “aiming” for Broadway. Stranger is about a small southern town and what happens when a “stranger” with an unknown profession moves into town.
The cast was quiet large for a reading (15 actors) but they were all very talented, especially Lisa Brescia and Lance Guest. Additional lyrics were written by Chip deMatteo and the book was written by Clay McLeod Chapman. The story, which was a PSA against drunk driving and not talking to strangers, as well as one about a father who can’t move past his brother’s death (which was due to a car accident he caused), is nauseatingly simple, and cliche. The star of this show is the music. The music is great, hummable, well-written.
John Rando (Urinetown) made the pacing nearly perfect with his appropriate direction and it’s always fun to watch Kimberly Grigsby musical direct.
Although I don’t see Stranger having a life on Broadway, it’s always fun to watch a new musical in it’s early stages. For me, at least.
Do you see Jennifer Lawrence’s face? That was exactly the look I had on my face after I left the preview screening of The Hunger Games at the Regal in Union Square tonight. Shock, disbelief, no words. I still don’t really have the words to do this now, but I’m afraid if I don’t that I’ll forget some semi-important aspect by tomorrow. It was a trade screening for employees of Scholastic (no screaming tweens - score!). I know someone associated with Scholastic who didn’t want their passes, and I was more than happy to take them off his hands when he offered them to me.
I read this trilogy last year and I will admit that I almost put the first one down before I even started it. It was about a futuristic society? Meh. Sounded too Harry Potter-esque for me. I was never a fan of the Harry Potter or Twilight series so I was a bit skeptical of this at first. Luckily, I gave the books a chance and they were incredible. Once I heard they were making the movie for the first book, I started counting down the days to the release. Director Gary Ross showed up before the screening, said hello, and took a few questions. I don’t remember what the questions were because the anticipation was swirling around inside me like a shark ready to bite when the lights went down. And now this is the part where I try to speak articulately about the movie adaptation of a book I loved so much…
I’m going to see this tonight. Apparently there’s been a lot of buzz around it and the buzz has been that “it’s good.” I’m excited, but I wish I knew more about it. Has anyone else heard anything? I’m excited to see the new Signature Theatre complex and I plan on buying [at least] five “And the great work begins!” pens while I’m there. Happy spring!
Carrie was highly entertaining and much to my surprise, it was also extremely touching. Every theater probably everywhere knows about the original production of Carrie in the 80’s. It lasted about three performances on broadway and then closed with a bang. It has been one of the hugest theatrical disasters I’ve heard about in my lifetime and it’s also been on the top of my list of “flops to see” if it ever came back.
After the writers came back together in 2009 and Stafford Arima took on the task of directing, buzz around the theatrical community started to build as a workshop of a revised Carrie started to take shape. The not-for-profit originally associated with the workshop decided not to move forward with a full production so MCC Theater stepped in and in 2011 announced that the first fully staged revival of this epic disaster would be produced by their company at the Lucille Lortel Theater on Christopher Street. And many theatre nerds drooled with anticipation for the months that would lead up to the first preview.
I scored a ticket in Row B for last Tuesday’s performance and I was excited. The cast was lead by Marin Mazzie (as the incredibly insane, overly religious mother) and Molly Ranson (as the distubred protagonist - or antagonist? - of the show). Twenty minutes into the show, I saw their relationship as very reminiscent of Wendla and her mother’s (in Spring Awakening) - the anger and hurt coming from the daughter and the overwhelming desire for the mothers to shelter their daughters from the outside world.
Anyways, the stage of the show works for the most part. The choreography is fun. The lyrics are god-awful. They’re lazy, but they were written in the 80’s and I bet it’s very hard to write lyrics that are appropriate for a campy horror movie without them being bad. I was surprised how much I liked the music, despite the lyrics.
Besides Mazzie and Ranson, Christy Altomare (as Sue Snell) was a stand-out for me. I loved her voice and her portrayal of the character was compelling. The rest of the company is energetic and vocally capable too. It’s not their fault that the material isn’t excellent, so you can’t hold their cliche characters against them.
I was a bit saddened by the lack of blood during the famous prom scene, but I can imagine it’d be hard to pull that off if you actually went through with pouring blood onstage. (Spoiler?)
I think anyone who misses this revival will surely regret it because it’s quite possible that we’ll never see this show in New York again after this production closes.
Hello - Martin Solveig & Dragonette - I’m obsessed with this song. You’ve all heard it in that commercial (though I can’t remember what commercial is is exactly). I’ve been hanging out with someone who loves EDM and when I listened to this song, I was all, “Oh! I know this song!” and then I listened to the lyrics and they’re cheeky, so I liked the song ever more. Monday is over and there’s only four days left until the weekend. Enjoy!
Yesterday was Billie Joe Armstrong’s 40th birthday. Forty? Whoa. Wasn’t he 22 and Dookie was released a hot second ago? Time flies! I don’t have anything eloquent to say, except, you rock, dude. I have a guitar lesson today and that’s due to your inspiration. Keep being outspoken, foul-mouthed, and musically awesome.
Here are some of my favorite shots that I’ve taken of Mr. Armstrong in the last year or two:
Foxboro Hot Tubs, Don Hills, April 2010
American Idiot, February 27th, 2011
The Final Soundcheck, March 23rd, 2010
American Idiot, the final performance after-show, April 24th, 2011
Green Day - the surprise New York concert at Webster Hall’s Studio, October 29th, 2011
Last week I clicked over to Joyus after being blinded by sparkles on Jordan’s blog. I saw these earrings and thought they were stunning. Since I’ve had a penchant for losing an earring here and there recently, and these particular earrings were so decently priced ($28), I decided to treat myself to them. They arrived today and I was a little appalled at how much paper and cardboard was wasted in their packing.
Really? That huge box, packaging paper, etc. for those two little earrings on the right? I know their mission is not to be eco-friendly but they do work out of San Francisco and aren’t San Franciscans supposed to be tree-hugging hippies? (I mean that with love.) I’m only eco-conscience probably 50% of the time but I try to recycle almost everything I can and to see packing this wasteful is upsetting.
Joyus is a cool concept, and the products are definitely eye-catching but they need to re-think their packaging. The earrings, incase you were wondering, are just as sparkly in person as they were online.
I read a daily (usually every other day) newsletter from a website called “The Daily Love" written by a person named Mastin Kipp. It’s kind of cheesy, and kind of new age-y, but it’s interesting to read. A letter from last week had really resonated with me, more so than any of the essays he’s written lately.
There was this guy from the summer (and part of the fall) that I was seeing. Then it all fell apart when he revealed himself to actually be a really insensitive egotistical asshole who was incapable of listening and attempting to understand how someone (me) was feeling. It was hard to deal with and try to get over.
What Kipp wrote basically said, “It’s not rejection, it’s clearing the path for something better.” In a way that could be translated into “that person was doing you a favor,” which could be a self-centered way of looking at things, sometimes it’s okay to be focused on yourself. He also wrote that you’re just not a good fit for each other, and that’s OK. It’s not personal. We’re all looking for our best matches in some sense in every aspect of our lives - careers, friends, relationships.
So, this guy was doing me a favor and simply redirecting me, probably in the path of someone who will actually compliment my attributes. The Daily Love helped really kick-start the process of ridding myself of any negative feelings over this guy. I know it takes time (and obvious by how I wrote about him up top, I’m not anywhere near 100% there yet), but not feeling “rejected” anymore is a step in the right direction.
Today I found out via Facebook that one of my favorite professors, a mentor, and good friend lost her battle with cancer. Her name was Anne Lommel, and that’s her above in the fall of 2007 during our production of Ragtime. She was off to a ‘wig party’ after the performance began that night.
I transferred to Pace at the beginning of my sophomore year and fell in love with wardrobe management during that first semester. I worked on the wardrobe crew once during that first semester, and wardrobe supervised the three productions the semester after, a Fringe production she designed for in 2006, and all of the big productions during my junior and senior years of college. She encouraged me to join the wardrobe union (although I never did, and kind of regret that). We talked for hours in the costume shop on Park Row about everything.
It was obvious during my first semester in her Costume 101 class that I couldn’t sew, but I could sure as hell facilitate quick changes and manage the shit out of people. I’d always show up for the first production meeting for whichever show I was working on and she’d immediately give me the scoop on who my crew was going to be and who was great and who, you know, needed work. And she’d always introduce me to my crew, point to me, and tell them, “Do not ask her to sew anything - she can’t, and that’s YOUR job. Just do whatever she tells you.”
She was smart, talented, beautiful, snarky, down-to-earth, and all-around fantastic. The last time I saw her was on October 22nd (thank you, foursquare). I swung by the costume shop where it was pre-call time for the matinee of the musical they were doing, Floyd Collins. We caught up and she introduced me to the new crew of dressers and supervisors when they arrived. Shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer. I have no idea what my alma matter is going to do now that she’s gone. She’s irreplaceable but I guess they have to try.
The afterlife just got a really awesome new interior designer. Love you, Anne.
Not at all. I just used that headline to get your attention. It worked, right? Anyways, after a month with my iPhone, I’m finally trying to find the most awesome case I can. I picked up a $5 red Hello, Kitty case at TJ Maxx that’s been holding me over so I don’t have to worry about it crashing to it’s death, but I’ve found a couple that are awesome too and not too expensive. The only downside is that they’re plastic and not rubber (I feel like the rubber ones have been shock absorbency if it should, say, fall to the ground).
Strawberry Fields is one of my favorite places in the city and a spot that I frequent. John Lennon is also of my favorite artists (people!) ever. It’s available on society6.com for about $35. It’s kind of expensive for a phone case.. but it’s really pretty. There’s this one too that’s black and white, which I almost like better (for $15 on society6.com):
My anguish over what-cell-phone-case-to-buy is really between buy the above case or a Green Day case. Like the one below (available on society6.com for $35), inspired by lyrics from Last Night on Earth:
This one is more old school awesome, and it’s only $6.99 on Amazon, and there are a bunch of others on eBay too. So, I’m not more closer to making a decision then I was before I wrote this. Any suggestions or opinions? Asking me to choose between Green Day and John Lennon is like trying to make a decision between HAIR and Rent.
These are (not) important life decisions. Help a girl out. Or let me know if you know if any rubber cases that are in the same style as the ones above! :
Some people travel for movie premieres for actors they love, others travel for concerts, and other people travel for theatre and for that last offense I am guilty as charged. When I first heard American Idiot was going on tour, I knew I wanted to see it. Unfortunately the closest the tour was coming to New York was Boston (no DC or Philly?!) so Matt and I groaned, debated possibly bussing it up to Toronto instead and resigned to the fact that it was easiest to head up to Boston, rather than any other stop on their tour schedule.
Two weeks ago we booked seats on the 7am AMTRAK train to Boston and we concluded today that it was a much better idea two weeks ago rather than when we had to show up to Penn Station at 6:15am on a Sunday. But we made it and after coffee and bagels, we boarded the train and took the four hour ride up north.
The train was definitely a good idea. The extra space allowed for maximum sleeping. The last time I was in Boston, I believe, was in September 2007 to see the out-of-town try-out of High Fidelity (which was, unfortunately, better than what was seen onstage in New York). We got to South Station, found our way quite easily to the Boston Opera House, picked up tickets and then went to find food.
I think Boston still follows what are called ‘Blue Laws’ which means nothing is open before noon. This was unfortunate because we were hungry and it was before noon. The restaurant next to the Boston Opera House seemed to be the only one open for several blocks in either direction so we split a margarita pizza and chicken fingers (like the adults we are) before we heading next door for the show. The theatre was beautiful, and enormous. We were sitting in row G and it felt like sitting in Row N at the St. James.
Totally reminiscent of the lobby at the St. James, right? Luckily we had no understudies and the house was packed (literally sold out). And there were color Playbills! I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen a color playbill at American Idiot.
Over the past few years I’ve really had to work on what relaxes me and gets me to sleep. I had three weeks of free time after graduating from college before I went off on a 3 week trip around Europe and because I had no job prospects lined up after that, I was incredibly anxious and had a lot of trouble sleeping. I think there were three consecutive nights where I didn’t get more than 3 hours of sleep. I saw my doctor; I saw a psychologist; and I was prescribed Xanax to relax me and get to sleep.
Well, I went to Europe, made friends with the strangers I was traveling with, and had the time of my life. I took the Xanax every now and then to help me get to sleep after I returned to the states but not consistently.
Over the last few years I’ve dealt with sleeping issues (I basically just had issues falling asleep - I have an overactive mind) a number of different ways and have no issues anymore. It’s pretty awesome and I thought I’d write the ways I relax and/or fall asleep here:
1. Candles: They’re a really fantastic way to wind down more than falling asleep. My favorite scents are lavender and vanilla.
2. Meditation: I know you’re not supposed to fall asleep during meditation but I do use meditation MP3’s nightly to help myself to fall asleep. Gabrielle Bernstein has a quick (free) 5 minute MP3 that you can download on iTunes that’s pretty great and concentrates a lot on your breath, and I have another longer MP3 that my aunt sent me a year or so ago that’s a type of meditation called Yoga Nidra - that’s specifically for intense relaxation. It’s fantastic and I’m not sure I even know what the end of the MP3 sounds like because I always doze off before it’s over.
3. Lavender spray: I learned at my yoga studio last year that lavender promotes relaxation. This excited me, even if it maybe worked more because I thought it would relax me rather than it actually having any real effect on my relaxation (does that make sense?). So I bought a bottle from Bath and Body Works and spray it on my pillow and a bit on my wrist every night before I go to sleep.
4. Sleepytime Teas: I’m also obsessed with this tea. I love tea and drink 2-4 cups a day and I almost always drink this before I go to bed (especially on a Sunday night when my sleeping pattern has been a bit disrupted because of the weekend). Again, I’m not sure if it works because I think it should or it actually does, but it has elderflower and chamomile in it both of which are supposed to promote sleep. Celestial makes a few, and Trader Joe’s also makes one that’s pretty great.
5. Peppermint Tea: If you’re at work and need to de-stress (like me) but don’t want to fall asleep on you desk with the above tea, I’d recommend peppermint tea. Trader Joe’s candy cane green tea is a personal favorite of mine (although it’s seasonal you can find it year-round on ebay) but any peppermint tea will work. Peppermint is a natural anti-inflammatory. I also recently tried Yogi’s Stress-Relief Tea but it tastes similar to what I imagine ass would taste like so I wouldn’t recommend it first.
6. Music: In one of my yoga classes, there was a sub teacher who used a bunch of songs that I really liked already and I’ve made a playlist of songs that make me happy and bring relaxation (and yoga) to mind. Those songs include The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony, Semisonic’s Closing Time, Weezer’s Only in Dreams, Eagle Eye Cherry’s Save Tonight, and Green Day’s Wake Me Up When September Ends (though I put the cast album version on the playlist because the harmonies make it more relaxing - to me at least), among others.
7. Yoga: Last but not least is yoga. I’ve been practicing for about two years and I started out doing a “winding down” podcast from YogaJournal (also available for free download on iTunes) which is specifically for for stretching and relaxing at the end of your day. It’s awesome. Restorative yoga is magnificent for relaxation too.
I haven’t take any kind of medication (prescribed or over-the-counter) in years because of the above natural remedies. I also bought a bunch of dried lavender and have placed it in a vase next to the couch in my apartment. I’m kind of obsessed with the scent of dried lavender now. During my almost-anxiety attacks last week I googled other things that promote relaxation and they included: Black tea, bananas, and sugar! Good to know for next time.
Full Disclosure: The night I wrote this I slept like total crap, despite yoga, meditation, and sleepytime tea so I felt like a total sham for having just written this. Tonight I’m double-bagging it.
So, the off-Broadway revival of Rent welcomed some new (and old) cast members this week. I wonder how Ms. Hunton is in the role of Maureen. Anna Leigh Ashford was pretty much the only cast member to get across-the-board great reviews when the revival first opened, so Hunton has huge shoes to fill.
In my opinion, the best members of the company were Adam Chanler-Berat, as Mark, and Matt Shingledecker, as Roger, and unfortunately these two will also depart the company in about a week to be replaced by Josh Grisetti and Justin Johnston respectively.
Wait. What? Justin Johnston is playing Roger? At first I thought, Well, maybe it’s a different Justin Johnston… but it’s not. Justin Johnston played the role of Angel in multiple casts when the show was on Broadway and touring. Don’t get me wrong, he was a fantastic Angel and an unbelievable dancer. But he is not who I would’ve imagined to succeed Shingledecker (who was a breath of life into the role). I think he’s a tad too old to be Roger and he doesn’t have the look or grimace that actor’s playing Roger usually have.
Who knows though. I might be totally wrong and he might be amazing. I’m not sure I’m ready to sit through the show again to take that chance though. If you’ve seen him in the role though, be sure to let me know how he is! I will now leave you all with a picture of Mr. Johnston and I from the summer of 2002 when I was 16.
The second half the 2011-2012 Broadway officially begins tomorrow! Some could say that it began when Porgy and Bess began previews in December (and opened last week), but I guess it depends on who you talk to. The second half of a Broadway season always begins in January, in my opinion.
Anyways, I digress. Let’s get back onto the topic, shall well? Wit, starring the incomparable Cynthia Nixon, started previews last week and it’s on the top of my list of things to see. Luckily, it’s being produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club, so you can volunteer to usher or you can score a $30 ticket via their 30-Under-30 ticket program (if you’re under 30, that is).
Another revival of Death of a Salesman is starting previews on February 13th and although it seems that this production was a rush job (or a lot of schedules coincided serendipitously), the cast is pretty fantastic (Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy, and Andrew Garfield as Willy’s son Biff). It feels like the last revival of Salesman was incredibly recent (it only kind of was - it was last revived in 1999), but since I missed out on seeing that one, I’ll definitely be making an effort to see this one.
The next nine shows of the season all open in March. March is going to be an exhausting month of critics and photographers alike. The two musicals I’m most looking forward to open on in March on the 1st and the 12th, those musicals being Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, respectively. I’m excited for JCS because it has an incredible score, but aside from that I cannot imagine why they’re bringing this back to Broadway after the 2000 revival (staring Glenn Carter and Tony Vincent - the only reason to have seen that revival) didn’t do very well. It was apparently acclaimed at the Stratford Festival last year and I’m excited to see what changes have been made by director Des McAnuff. If I’m being honest, I don’t have very high hopes because as previously stated, despite the score being top-notch, I think the book of the show is kind of unable to be saved despite anyone’s attempts to breathe life into it.
The only exposure I have to Evita is the movie starring Madonna in 1996 and after watching it again recently I have to admit that Madge doesn’t do the score justice at all. I love the score and I love theatre that’s historical, so I’m assuming I’ll love Evita. I’m very excited to finally see this show come to life onstage.
The other productions opening in March include the beloved Newsies (I finally got around to watching it and it has a great score an interesting story - it was apparently very, very good at Papermill last year), The Best Man, Rebecca, End of the World, Ghost (based on the movie), Nice Work If You Can Get It, and Don’t Dress For Dinner. I know Sierra Boggess is starring in Rebecca and the score to Ghost is pretty incredible, but aside from that there hasn’t been a lot of buzz on any of the other shows.
On April 3rd, the recently announced Broadway production of a new musical called Leap of Faith (based on the Steve Martin movie) will begin previews starring Kendra Kassebaum and Raul Esparza. The next night The Columnist, produced by Manhattan Theatre Club, will begin previews. The Columnist is a political drama about a Washington journalist and I think it sounds pretty interesting. (Again, check out MTC’s 30 Under 30 program!).
The last two shows of the season (as slated for now) are One Man, Two Guvnors on April 6th and Harvey (about a grown man who has an invisible rabbit friend) on May 18th. Harvey is being produced by Roundabout so cheap ticket options will be available, though One Man.. is being produced commercially, so the most we can hope for is a $40 rush or a ticket off TDF.
If I had to pick my top five shows of the winter/spring, I’d say that Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Leap of Faith, Death of a Salesman, and Wit are it. What are your top five?
In late 2011, I decided to rid myself of friends who didn’t make me feel good about myself, or talk to them and explain to them that I wasn’t happy with our friendship and how I wanted it to change. That sounds demanding but it was for the best for both of us (whoever the other person happened to be). One “friend” who I made the decision to completely cut off was someone who threatened to sue me after I did a[n admittedly bitchy] thing. But no matter what you do - short of trying to murder your friend or their family - friends don’t threaten to sue each other. Plain and simple.
Well, the latest conundrum was a guy who I met a few weeks ago - we never dated, for the record - and we hung out twice, but he always seemed to be doing it out of pity. There definitely always seemed to be somewhere he’d rather be - at least that’s the impression his body language gave me. He’s also super arrogant, which he doesn’t deny at all. “Who has the time to be modest?” he says. I’m all for being proud of one’s accomplishments but I don’t think there’s a reason to be arrogant. Well, I sick of him always acting like it was a chore to talk to me so I took him off my Gchat list and that was that.