Honesty Time

Keeping it real since 2013


True Life: I cried at Hunchback


Disney fans, movie fans, theatre lovers and fangirls, cultured folks, and friends of all of the above, may have heard the growing praises for the new musical adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

And if you haven’t heard yet, you should.

By the way, the show may be produced by Disney Theatrical Group, but this is not marketed towards children. The Disney name doesn’t even appear on the poster or any merchandise. While some people are oddly turned off by the dark tone, I love it. There was a talkback with the cast after one of the performances and, I believe it was Michael Arden but stop me if I’m wrong, said it best when he said that he grew up watching the movie, but now this version of the story has grown up with him. Love it. So true. I adored having the songs and characters I already knew being explored in a different way. It is also more faithful to the original story by Victor Hugo. I don’t believe that stories need to be dumbed down or sugar coated for audiences, so I heartily applaud the truthful, faithful, and emotional storytelling of this adaptation.

Talk Back with the cast. Yes, Patrick Page has on a Spiderman shirt.

Talk Back with the cast.

Truth: The first night I saw it, two ladies behind me left at intermission because it was not the Disney that they were expecting. Those who react to a show in such a way are closed minded and missing out on life’s experiences. Suit yourself, but if you choose to leave a performance because it’s not playing out exactly as you wanted it to, then I find you to be selfish. Good day, sir.

I mentioned for a split second up there “the first night I saw it.” Which means, yes, I saw it twice. I went back two days later because I couldn’t get the show out of my head, and emotionally, I wasn’t done with it. The first time I was mostly in awe. I was sitting very close, and being an all around theatre person, I spent the entire show trying to take in the whole story, the set, the lights, the costumes, the sound design, and everything. My jaw was dropped the entire time, not only because I was a full time Chuckie Finster Mouth Breather that night, but also because I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. The second time was less of a shock, so I was able to delve into the lyrics and narrative a bit more, which resulted in a lot more tears than the first night.

Yup. I’m a big crier, even when it comes to works of fiction, and I’m never ashamed to admit it. I still get misty when I listen to Big Fish in the car, and don’t you dare get me started on the face-rain that happens when Sirius Black dies.

Yes, I sat nice and close. The set was a sight to behold.

Yes, I sat nice and close. The set was a sight to behold.

Here are 7 reasons why you’ll cry because of Hunchback.

  1. Your high school student walks out on stage and, surprise, is part of the production. Ok, fine. This isn’t applicable to most people, but it was for me. The choir accompanying the professional cast on the stage is made up of your everyday, talented folk from New Jersey. My student, now a senior, auditioned and was given the once in a lifetime chance to join this production. As I no longer work at that school, I had no idea he was doing this. One of the kindest and most genuine students, he is also hard to miss as he is tall and sports a curly, ginger head of hair. He walked right out and sat in the first row of the choral boxes, and I couldn’t mistake him. Apologies to everyone who sat near me as I exclaimed “That’s my kid! That’s my student! My student is up there!” I tried to be quiet but who knows how quiet I was. I was so proud. I love my students with all of my heart. And so, I cried.
  2. The show is starting. I tend to get misty eyed and let a stray tear loose when I listen to overtures, both in recordings and at shows. I feel that I am blessed to witness the gift that I am about to receive. When the opening is as powerful and well-done as it was with Hunchback, the chances of this happening are quadrupled. Thank you, orchestra and Continuo Arts choir. For most people, it might be a goosebumps moment, but, like I said, I’m a crier.
  3. Ciara Renée is singing “God Help the Outcasts.” Have you ever been an outcast? Do you understand that feeling of otherness? Come, child, here, have some tissues. Not to mention that Ciara had REAL ACTUAL TEARS in her eyes, so if I was welling up, seeing that made me actually cry. I cry when other people cry too. I’m a crier. Also, as a theatre lover, I can appreciate a truly well-done stage picture. The end of the song had Esmeralda singing out to the world (or, er, the house), with Quasimodo lurking farther up, against the colorful stained glass. Feeling the same feelings, but being so far apart, trapped inside the breathtaking prison, the merging of two people into one shared situation… it was a lot for my emotions.
  4. Quasimodo is singing “Heaven’s Light.” Michael Arden is the best Quasimodo I can imagine. His physicality was not a caricature, and he was honest. His honesty allowed Quasimodo to have a little humor, a lot of authenticity in his feelings and actions, and a truly broken spirit. His voice, though mangled a bit in speaking as the half-formed, mostly deaf young man, was clear as could be while singing. Arden’s tone was as pure and striking as the bells above him, and by the end of the song, I was brought to tears simply by his voice mixed with the ringing of said bells. I can’t even freaking tell you what he was singing about because by the end of the song, I was so emotional that I had no idea what was happening.
    Side note: Has that ever happened to anyone else? You’re so into something, you’re responding emotionally, you love it, but what the hell just happened? All memory of the actual content gone?

    Photo by Jerry Dalia. Source: Playbill.com Michael Arden and Ciara Renée during "Top of the World"

    Photo by Jerry Dalia. Source: Playbill.com Michael Arden and Ciara Renée during “Top of the World”

  5.  Ciara Renée and Andrew Samonsky are singing “Someday.” I wish there was a recording of them singing this for me to play over and over again. Part of the power of a lot of this show, but in particular this song, is how the themes are, sadly, always applicable. She’s singing about justice’s dawn, and learning to live and let others live, which is something we, as a world, struggle with immensely. Then they sing something to the effect of “someday, these dreams will be real/’Til then we’ll wish upon the moon,” which is one of the single most beautiful vocal moments ever, and the exact moment when, if you aren’t already dabbing your eyes, you’ll be scrambling for your tissues. You can listen to the super hip, super 90’s All-4-One recording, but it’s just not the same (literally. The songs are different from each other, but close).

    You’re welcome for this fabs 90s style music video. Yas.
  6. Michael Arden is breaking the fourth wall (as is done masterfully so many times during the show to aid in narration, as the style calls for storytelling, and not just action) and giving a bit of an epilogue to Quasimodo’s story. The story he tells is almost direct from the book, in a chapter entitled “The Marriage of Quasimodo.” By this point, there was a distinct little river streaming down from one of my eyes and I gave up on trying to wipe it away. That’s some real honesty time there. I don’t want to spoil it, but the words were sweet, simple, and really hit the audience members right in the feels. Love and devotion and loyalty are eternal, y’all.
  7.  Oh, well, here comes the finale. The entire cast and choir are singing. Erik Liberman, as cunning Clopin, comes to end the show, just as he began it. And then everyone joins in. And they’re just singing “bells, bells, bells, bells” and they’re just standing in a line. And then they’re not even singing any words anymore. But they’re singing with such conviction. And pride. And they move downstage. And I’m still crying, and then the lights go out, and then I’m on my feet applauding.

I could continue to gush about all aspects of the show… Patrick Page is the world’s best, most human villain and I’d also like to listen to him talk all day long. The sound design was brilliant in a way that I know most non-theatre enthusiasts are sure to notice, but not understand as I do. The congregants were versatile and fluid in their movements from one part to the next, taking on each little role with a firm mastery. The lights exemplified the perfect use of color theory that I wish my students would pay attention more attention to. Hello, all that orange and blue? The teal and purple? Quasi almost always being in what reads as a pure light? UGH love it.

But I have to leave it here. I could go on all day. I almost have. Sorry not sorry.

Be ready for wherever this show lands next, and catch it when you can. You will be sorry if you miss it. There’s only one more week left to see this show in its current life at Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey. You can bet that when it goes to Broadway (and it has to. It’s too powerful to just sit on a shelf now), I will see it again.



Yearning for Color

I’d like to ask everyone a question.

When did we become so afraid of color?

It’s in our homes, adorning our bedspreads and covering our laptops. It’s out in nature, blanketing the Earth with flowers and vibrant birds. Some of us wear a variety of colors, using them to express our moods or personalities.

But why do we stop ourselves from being too bright or bold?

Clothes are conventionally limited to a safe pattern of what “matches” and what doesn’t. People tend to stray away from contrasting colors, or even shades of the same color.

Blue and orange? You’re so crazy! Blue on blue? Whack!!!!

Gosh, there’s an even an entire store in the mall dedicated to women only wearing black and white, with maybe one pre-approved pop of color here and there.

I spent my teen years not being allowed to dye my hair because people with vibrant hair colors were goth, emo, sad, depressed, rage filled, goat sacrificing hoodlums with no futures.

So then I starting dyeing my hair auburn when I was in college. I gradually went a little brighter with my red each time. I finally settled on a color that started out a beautiful merlot color and faded to a fun, bright, but definitely not “Little Mermaid” caliber, red.

I loved it.

Then I started student teaching. And then the ladies in the office (not-so) subtly told me that I had “some hair color there”.


And they told me that often.

Finally, right before I graduated, I sadly went back to my plain, fairly mousey and cool toned brown.

I felt that a part of me had been taken away.

I had spent the better part of the end of my college career and my grad school career trying to regain my confidence and sense of self, after I had spent time being a meaner, poorer, shell version of myself.

My problem was that the red hair change had come just when I was starting to feel good again. I was coming to terms with my chronic illnesses, I was becoming happier, and I was finding out who my true friends were.

And honestly, I have just always loved red hair. From ginger to Ariel under the sea, I loved all of the shades of red hair.

So losing that spark was not fun.

Similarly, when I started to wear colorful eye makeup and either bright pink or pale bubblegum pink lips, people told me I was wearing too much makeup.

Too much, or was it too bright, colorful, and not the norm in a sea of neutral loving folks?

Again, I was stifled.

Recently, I tried to regain some of my confidence through color. I dyed the under-layer of my hair a vibrant red. As an under-layer, it’s still pretty subtle, but fun and quirky. And fiery in just the right light, just the way I like it.

I use a special color system to keep my hair bright. It has morphed into a color that I call “red velvet,” and I love it.

Red Velvet Hair Color

Recently, I used that same color system to add subtle pink to my bangs. I know that my job probably won’t allow this if it gets much more pigmented, but it makes me feel happy.

extreme pink bangs

It’s been a long, gray winter y’all.

Then I added purple to my red under-layer. Now my red has gone from red velvet to berry colored. I also apparently only make food analogies to describe my hair color. I do love food.

My hair is a little more berry than red velvet today!

My hair is a little more berry than red velvet today!

Anyway, it makes me happy. Color is life. And doing whatever I want with my color is even better.


Recently, I bought purple lipstick. I hadn’t had the courage to wear it out of the house for the longest time.

One night, I found myself at one of my shows and in need of some lipstick or gloss or something. Like the sword of Gryffindor in the Sorting Hat, the purple lipstick just presented itself to me. So I put it on.


Wahbam! Suddenly I was a million times happier and I felt kind of fierce with my red velvet hair, big eyebrows, seam ripper around my neck, and helping put on a ridiculously colorful version of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Color was back in my life.

I was happy.

But why can’t I have my whole head be berry colored? Why can’t I wear purple lipstick everywhere, while still being a classy, cool, and trendy lady?

So here’s what I want to know:

Where and when is it acceptable to be colorful, funky, and free?

Kids in a lot of schools, and households, can’t dye their hair. Forget about purple, blue, and bubblegum pink lipstick. Even when colorful hair is an accident, kids are punished for it.

Most workplaces don’t want that kind of stuff. Vibrant hair styles and colorful makeup looks are only for artist types.

But why? Colorful hair is on the runways, in the magazines, on celebrities, and, like I said, color is everywhere. Am I rebel, or am I on trend? So you have to be celebrity or a cartoon character to sport blue hair? 

What gives, world?


Sadly for now, my dreams of a fully berry toned head of hair are just that, dreams. Maybe the norm will change one day. How many more runways and magazines need to feature bright colors before kids stop getting suspended and I can dye my whole head some fun colors?

What do you think about bold color combos in your wardrobe, makeup, or on your head? Yea or nay?


Song List: Real or Not Real Edition

It’s time for another list of songs that I’ve been listening to lately! However, there’s a twist! Can you guess which ones I am forced to listen to at my children’s center job and which I am gladly listening to for fun? Some of these are obvious…

…I hope.











1. Obviously this is work related. But I DARE YOU to listen to this and not have this nonsense stuck in your head FOREVER. Chugga chugga CHOO choo
2. Work. Unlike the rest of the world, I listen to this at work and shake my head. Work here is not only the children’s center, but also the high school where I do costumes. I listen to it IN BOTH PLACES. Multiple times a day. Save me. I do not listen to this song out in the real world, ever.
3. This is clearly something I could never listen to at work. Foul language alert! Heathers is just so awesome, y’all. This song is A+ total BA.
4. Trick question! Work! But I don’t hate it.
5. Obviously this is something I jam out to in the car and when I’m sitting by my computer. This is brilliant and you cannot go wrong with the sweet vocals of Marcus Mumford. So sweet. Sweet. Sweet.
6. Sometimes, this gets stuck in my head. And perhaps, sometimes, I sing along. Alas, this is a work song that is just as bad as any song from Frozen. It’s omnipresent and the little girls love it. Though, I do at least like Frozen, so maybe this is worse.
7. The show that I just finished was actually A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. But this is also a trick question because I LOVE this song. It’s so funny and well done. This is a combo work/pleasure song. Gotcha!
8. Yes, this specific version. The A*Teens version. Oh boy, oh boy. Work. All work. I do not listen to the A*Teens. Remember them? Where did they go?
9. Truth: I love “Bring Him Home.” Especially when Ramin Karimloo sings it. But alas, this is the Piano Guys version from our “soft music” time at work. I enjoy it, but I would have never heard of the Piano Guys without this job. Sorry, Piano Dudes!
10. Obvious. Right? One of my favorite songs right now. I listen to it almost every time I get into the car, which has recently been pretty often.


Do you listen to different things at work than you would normally listen to? Is it by choice, or force? Do you hate it? Or, like me, have you started to rock out to train songs?

Leave a comment

Photo Post

Here’s my current life in photos. As I tend to do on here every now and then, I feel that photos better tell my current story than words, music, or whatever else. 

The kids at the HS msade this for me. no, I will not explain

The hat is cake too!

My Big Fish bag comes to every show with me

Don’t you keep elastic in your car too?

pure mess

Leave a comment

A Message From The OTHER Cat


My mommy is very sleepy right now and we are all cuddled up on her abnormally warm blanket, ready for sleep.

I plan to get a full 4 hours before I go for my race horse run around the bed. 

How else do you think I stay so trim in this Italian house?

Mommy is tired. Again. Just like last week. Except this week she is making funny noises out of her mouth and nose. 

She sounds like my sister Licorice, who snores allllllll night. But mommy isn’t snoring. She’s awake. How strange. 

Mommy also told me that she’s really glad that she can’t smell my food anymore. Why? She’s missing out. It’s so nice and fishy! I love mushy fish parts for dinner! 

And breakfast. 

And snack. 

And lunch. 

As a matter of fact, I’ve learned that if I meow the words “right now!” at any point, my grandma will feed me mushy fish. Whenever I want!!!! Best trick ever. Who’s training who? Amiright??? 

Speaking of food, mommy brought home new flowers last night! Some young humans gave them to her. I was so excited that I decided to eat one!

Then I remembered that flowers hurt my dainty belly so I spit it out. I hope mommy finds it and cleans it because I know how much she hates spit flowers in the floor. I don’t mind it, but she does. Weird.

She took the flowers out of our room right before bed time and told me that I was gross. Why did she take the pretty flowers away?

Oh. Oh. I guess she found my present. 

But now she won’t be able to have the flowers make her room smell delightful!

Oh. Right. She keeps saying her nose doesn’t work anymore. Well. I liked the way they smelled. So sweet and floral. So yummy. 

No. Stop. Must not eat flowers. Bad.

So yummy!! 

Tummy ache 😦

I might have to leave mommy another present. 

Funny, it was my 10th birthday yesterday and I’m the one giving her presents. I’m so selfless. 

Though yesterday she did cuddle up close to me and gave me lots of extra pets and chin rubs. 

I don’t understand why people don’t give each other chin scratches. They have no idea what they’re missing. Instead they hold each other’s big paws and give death hugs (run away!!!), when they could just be scratching their chins. But they never do. Which is why humans never purr. Because they don’t know the joy. Sad. 

I hope that mommy stops working so many jobs soon so I can spend more time with her. I need more chin runs. Also, when she rescued me nearly 4 years ago, I thought we would always spend lazy days together. But then she did this thing she calls “being an adult” and I hate it. The picture below is the super comfortable position I sit in when I wait for mommy. 

She’s never home. 

But I guess that’s ok because then I get  to spend time wth grandma teaching her that “right now” trick. Quality time. 

Well, it’s time for my “me” nap. 

See what I did there? Because I’m a cat? Get it?

And my old owners said I had no personality. Hah!



Leave a comment

A Message From The Cat


I write to you because my owner (aka MOOOOOOOM) is not capable of doing so herself. 

Similar to how she is incapable of feeding me at 4am. Or tolerating my Velcro tongue kisses on her hands for the full required 20 minutes. I don’t know what fibromyalgia and eczema are, but I don’t care. I shall lick. And whine. 

My mother is busy because she has been using a loud machine every day and she says funny sounding words at it and then yells. 

Actually, the same words and yelling she directs towards me at 4am. Which must mean that she loves and worships that funny machine.

I know I worship it. Because when she uses it, she drops small, thin snakes on the ground. Then I get to hunt the snakes and eat them. Then I get to throw them up before the sun has come up because I don’t really like to eat those little snakes, I just want to show them who is in charge. 

Lately, Mom has been coming home very late. She complains about kids and some things called “costumes” and “microphones”. 

She doesn’t even have time to feed me. So her mother, my grandma, has to feed me my gooshy food at night. But I am fussy, and will only accept the food from mother’s hands. So I run away from my grandma. Then she chases me. This must be what you humans call exercise. You’re welcome. 

When my mother comes home, many hours after my dinner time, she yells. Again. It must be that she is glad to see me and is so happy that I am still awake, out of my room, and that I waited to eat until she got home. That must be it. I am so kind to her. 

On nights like tonight, when she arrives home way after my bedtime, I eagerly await her so that she may worship and feed me properly. But she gets right into my big bed and turns off the lights and flashing picture box. And gives me no pets. 

I must stage a protest. I will. Perhaps at 3am this next morning. Perhaps I shall vomit. Or knead her sore legs. Or jump on the large wood box where she keeps her sticks and snakes and bottles. Perhaps I shall bring her a mouse to show her that I harbor no hard feelings to her recent neglect. But I must do so with much fanfare, and announce my gift, so that she knows how sincere I am. Yes, 3am will be the perfect moment for this.

I am aware that Mom says that she is “almost done with this work”, so I assume that means that she will soon pet me for hours again. She is doing a poor job serving me. Good thing I love her. 

I must take my slumber now, as I have to wake up soon and commence running from one side of the room to other in order to stay limber. 

A cat’s life is so busy. I don’t know what my mom is complaining about. Busy? She doesn’t even bring me feather demons like I do for her. She is lazy. Oh, you humans. 



(The cat)

(The superior one)


How A Costumer Shops

Welcome. To. My. Hell.

I’m about to take you on a photo journey of what it is like to go fabric and notion shopping as a costume designer.

It is frustrating. It is overwhelming, and incomplete because at certain points I stopped taking pictures because #frustration.

Here we go.


Thought 1: Why why why why are the aisles SO NARROW today? It’s like a cave. It’s claustrophobic. I can’t fit my cart through here. So of course I pushed the racks and rearranged because I’m a stubborn Taurus with a little OCD. Oops


I also brought my gigantic binder that has all of the information for my three shows in it. Well, now I have that much less room in my cart. Still in a narrow aisle. I imagine this is what Elton John’s closet might look like.


Now I am also confused because that fabric says “Merry Christmas” and… What? I realized that I’m not actually sure what day it is. We’re pretty far from Christmas, right?


My cart is already full. But I’ve only just begun. Stress.


Can’t I just cuddle with this monkey fleece instead? Maybe I did, and maybe I didn’t.


My students requested something Earthy and natural for one character’s costume. Is this taking things too far? Nah.


Today, annoying glitter fused sequin fabric, you have not won. I did not put any of this in my cart, even though I usually use it for every show. Not this time, sewing machine destroyer. Not this time.


This fabric was right next to it. It is shiny and pretty and got to join my too-full cart.



This is a real thing. Looks like fancy satin. Feels soft like flannel! Excuse me while I update my wardrobe because this is amazing.


I stopped to scowl at this glitter costume satin, which I used in a show last year. That costume was a big fat fail. Scowl scowl scowl.



I am overwhelmed by the trim and ribbon wall. So much. So many. Too many. Which to choose? More like which not to choose.


Welcome to Mt. Everest.


While I wait on a very long line to get my fabric cut to size, I contemplate buying cat print fabric, because I am bored and a cat lady. I manage to resist the charm.


I see this at the cutting counter. I contemplate making myself an Elsa costume, because I’ve lost all control of my life so maybe now’s the right time. I don’t, because I don’t hate myself that much yet.


Remember when I posted about birds on hats for Hello, Dolly? Yeah, I’m doing it.

Not picture is the long line to check out, me trying to resist all of the candy and the large bags of Chex Mix while waiting to check out, and my struggle trying to get all of this junk to my car.

Happy musical season, everyone.