Honesty Time

Keeping it real since 2013


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True Life: I cried at Hunchback

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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.


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Updated Current Song List

(For a 3 year old)

So what have I been listening to lately?

Oh. Yeah. Did I mention I work at a children’s fitness center? This is a sample of what we listen to all day. Just a peek into my current life.

And you know what? I don’t hate it. I could hate all of this music, but I don’t. It’s actually fun.


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So Many Cats.

I’m totally nuts and have 3 shows coming up and I already can’t keep track of the days.

Surprise it’s Monday again and I forgot about that until 10pm.

So here are some of the face charts that I’ve done for Cats. So many cats. So. Many.

Jennyanydots Makeup

Munkustrap Makeup Exotica Makeup Grizabella Makeup Carbucketty Makeup Demeter Makeup

So that’s what I’ve been working on everyday since Friday. 30 charts and a lot of Friends.


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My Broadway To-Do List

I went to a pre-audition meeting at the high school where I do costumes tonight. It was just like coming home. That wonderful warm, fuzzy feeling that you associate with going to your childhood home for special occasions is always present at that school. I sat with the director and music director and we caught up a bit while the kids learned a dance sequence.

As usual, the music director and I always ask the director about what shows he’s seen lately and what he recommends. That got me thinking of my extensive laundry list of shows I would love to see. The list never ends. Here are some of the shows that top my list of “Want to see soon!”

Side Show.

Duh. I’m obsessed. I have fallen deeply and madly in love with the original production from the 90s. I know I’ve mentioned it before. I love it for all of quirks and misgivings, and I know I will love the new version the same way. I will love them as entirely separate productions. I hear the cast is phenomenal and I know that the visuals of the show are vastly changed, updated, and bedazzled. I already know about most of the changes to the script and score, and while I’m not totally pleased, I really want to see it in action. New Side Show will never replace OG Side Show. Side Show, if you will, will never leave me.

The Book of Mormon.

GUESS WHO STILL HASN’T PEED THEIR PANTS LAUGHING AT THE EUGENE O’NEILL THEATRE WHILE WATCHING THIS SHOW? Me. It’s me. (It’s meeeeeeeeeeeee) It is so ridiculously expensive to try to find tickets for this show. Every now and then I get an email for a deal, but it’s always when my schedule is too packed to drop everything and run to the city to see the show. But maybe I should change my priorities because, dude, Book of Mormon.

Cabaret.

When I was a senior in high school, we did Cabaret. It was the coolest show I’ve ever done. I was a telephone girl and I wore a sassy pink silk robe. Ever since, I’ve always wanted to see a professional production of the show. Well, it’s back. And now Emma Stone is in it. Obviously Alan Cumming is a big reason to see the show, but I’m certain that Emma Stone as Sally Bowles is not to be missed. Also, it basically takes place inside the Kit Kat Klub. Oh Studio 54, you are just too cool.

On The Town.

Tonight, we had a massive fan girling discussion over the dancing in this show. I have heard great things, but to hear my director kind of lose his mind and start almost literally gushing about the dancing and talent in this show solidified my need to experience On The Town. Jay Armstrong Johnson is in it, and I saw him in Sweeney Todd last winter and loved him, so I’d adore seeing him again. Also Jackie Hoffman has always cracked me up in everything I’ve seen her in (Xanadu and The Addams Family), so I’d make the trip for her too.

The Elephant Man.

I don’t actually know much about the course of the plot of this show, but I of course know the basic premise. It’s based on the real life story of Joseph Merrick. I guess if my love for Side Show and AHS: Freak Show haven’t given it away, for some reason, I love stories of the people who are considered “other” in our world. These characters involved in such shows often reveal so much humanity and heart that other characters just can’t fathom. Also, Bradley Cooper. Sometimes, a big name can bring people to the theater in droves, and well, it doesn’t hurt.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.

Still haven’t seen this either. GGTLAM was huge at the Tony Awards this past season, and for what I understand is good reason. It’s funny, it’s witty, the talent is as clever as the story, the costumes rock my world, and one man plays EIGHT different roles in the same show. Outstanding.

Disenchanted!

Technically off-broadway, but whatever. This one is closing at the end of January, but I’d really love to get some time to go see it. This new musical is everything I love – fairy tales turned on their butts. I mean, come on, I took a class on fairy tales in college. I love to hear spins on the classic tales, and I love it even more so when I’m promised wit and humor in regards to the original stories versus the mega-consumed, consumer driven princesses of today’s theme parks. Also, the website holds a special place in my heart, as it features the original fairy tales for the characters. Not so cutesy now, eh famous cartoon movie characters? http://www.disenchantedmusical.com/

I also recommend the shows Once and Pippin to anyone who hasn’t seen them. I saw both of them already, but with both shows closing so soon into the New Year, I just felt like giving them some extra love. Go see Pippin if you want to experience a high-flying spectacle of an update to the classic Schwartz score. Once is for anyone who loves music and loves to see people experiencing and living their music in a story that involves being quietly and completely absorbed and taken into a world of music and love, and love for music. Go see both if you love theatre and want to be cultured. Honestly.

There are obviously a lot more shows that I want to experience, but these are at the top of my list currently. So, who wants to come?

Also, is anyone else excited for Peter Pan Live next week on TV? I am. I hope someone will watch it with me!

(mmmm, dem pirates)


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Taps, Tonys, and Beautiful Broadway Boys

From Tonyawards.com

From Tonyawards.com

Another year, another Broadway season behind us.

Obviously I watched the Tonys last night and loved every second of it.

Audra made history! Well deserved history! Audra, you DESERVE every single one of those 6 Tonys, you fantastic, talented, and funny woman! Yes, I loved every moment of the Tonys!

…I mean the LL Cool J/TI/Hugh Jackman Music Man rap was a little weird but… I’ll take it.

Even while being too broke to see this season’s works of magic (Side note: The only show I have even seen from this season was Big Fish, which though it is still part of my everyday happiness, was completely disregarded by the Tony committee. Sigh.), I correctly predicted most of the awards for the night.

This includes that I did predict that Jason Robert Brown would win for Score and Orchestrations for Bridges of Madison County, which sadly also closed too soon. I could stand on my soapbox and say how disappointed I am that the Bridges cast did not get to perform, but Rocky did, with no powerful vocals to back it up. Sting did, but his show isn’t even on Broadway yet. Jennifer Hudson performed a song from a show that will hit Broadway, but she will never sing it. And Bridges? Nothing. So sad. Jason Robert Brown’s music knows how to make your heart soar and crash, flutter and fall, break and beat, and all in the span of one show. I could stand on my soapbox and say all of that, but I won’t.

SO ANYWAY. Since I have been working on Dracula every single night for the past few weeks, and we opened on Friday, I was beat on Sunday after our 2pm show, and I didn’t want to do anything big for the Tonys. So I grabbed some Ben & Jerry’s and headed home to cuddle with Karamel Sutra to watch the awards. Totally relaxed, totally chill, just a girl and her ice cream.

While the Tonys were occurring, Rachel and I were texting about the performances and the glitz and the glamour and the very fine looking men of the Broadway community.

Gay or straight, I don’t care, they’re all beautiful and talented and magical, and so I love them.

Check out this Buzzfeed list of all the Broadway hotness, both male and female, to see what we’re talking about.

I’m sad that fabulous, friendly, and awesome Vlogging Pippin replacement Kyle Dean Massey isn’t on this list, but I guess Pippin isn’t really “On Season.”

 

Kyle Dean Massey with Ciara Renee (yes also obsessed with her). Photo by Bruce Glikas from Broadway.com (Click picture for original article)

Kyle Dean Massey with Ciara Renee (yes also obsessed with her). Photo by Bruce Glikas from Broadway.com (Click picture for original article)

 

10+ for Ramin Karimloo, who had his adorable children in tow for the awards ceremony. Can we give his kids a Tony for “Ultimate Cuteness in Children”? Great, let’s.

Another 10+ for Santino Fontana, who is not only in Act One currently, but recently was also a true prince in Cinderella last season, voiced Hans in Frozen, and can be seen on “Submissions Only” as Aaron, the boyfriend we all want to have.

Then the cast of Bullets Over Broadway came out in their suits and started tapping. And that’s when Rachel and I got all super crazy.

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I love tap numbers.

I cannot tap.

I will never be able to tap. My feet don’t move that quickly or with such coordination. My muscles just won’t allow it.

So instead, I watch all tap performances with awe. I also fan girl over tap numbers and often smack those who are seated next to me (See: The time I saw Newsies and Big Fish).lucilleexcited

I haven’t seen that many shows, so I can’t say I know all of the best tap numbers, but here are just a few for you all to fawn over with me.

 

Until next year, Tony Awards, I bid you adieu, and I look forward to seeing what the new season holds!

May you all have sweet dreams of fanciful Broadway numbers, their gorgeous casts, and the scenes that captivate our hearts and minds.

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Or if your Rachel and me, just the gorgeous cast part, apparently.


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Another Crazed Picture Post

I’m getting ready for show #2! Here comes All Shook Up. And I’m done with 5 weeks of the 12 weeks of physical therapy, so those appointments also keep me busy. And I have almost no idea what day it is again! I have no idea what I’m doing! Get ready for a picture post! My week in pictures, again! Minus pictures of physical therapy, because I really don’t need to share pictures of the 60-90 pelvic tilts I do every session. Ok? Here we go!

 

First up! Sweeney Todd with the NY Philharmonic at Lincoln Center!

sweeney todd cast

Here’s the list of the leads in the show. First of all – amazing. Second of all – the question mark was the best part. Click on that to watch clips from the show and at about 1:08 see that Audra McDonald was the Beggar Woman! NY Phil punk’d us all and surprised everyone with Audra! My queen!

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The stage – pre show. If you watched the video, you see that obviously it doesn’t stay this way.

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Here’s curtain call! Photo credz actually goes to one of the kids from 9 to 5. Another FYI – We were all on our feet, smacking our hands together so hard right at this moment. The ensemble, the NY Philharmonic, the lead actors, and the conductor all gave jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring performances. To be honest, when the lights went out, way before the cast even took their curtain call, the entire audience was up on their feet. It was that good.

christianborle

Here I am, looking absolutely crazy/crazed with Christian Borle, who was really nice when I asked for a picture.

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Here I am with Ryan Andes! He was in the ensemble of Sweeney Todd and even more importantly was Karl the giant in Big Fish My friends and I met him at the stage door when we saw Big Fish, and he was honestly the nicest person ever and stopped to have a full conversation with us. I wanted to take a picture with him, but our ride showed up and kind of clogged traffic on the street, so we dashed. Here we are a few months later and I had my chance again! I may have delayed our school bus leaving by insisting that I stalk the stage door to wait for him. Sorry not sorry that I’m so weird and obsessive. Also speaking of Big Fish and Ryan Andes, please click here to see the world’s best GIF ever that I found on BroadwayBox.com. It’s really kind of massive so I didn’t want to post it on this page itself. But it’s the best, ever.

The cats missed me. Here they are being cute.

We’re doing some set painting and light hanging with the kids to get ready for All Shook Up. Some progress pics.

I bought fabric for All Shook Up! Two shopping carts’ worth, actually. And then I bought a serger too. Oops. I don’t even know how to use it, to be perfectly honest. Double oops.

So yesterday my pal and I went into the city again to go to 54 Below to see “54 Below Sings Side Show!” So next to Big Fish, my other musical obsession is Side Show, the show about conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton. My friend and I are so nutty for it, so we got tickets to this awesome dinner and a show night. While in the city, I went to my favorite place to grab a bite to eat – Schmackary’s. Yes, my favorite place to eat in the city is a cookie place. They had two!!! gluten free flavors yesterday – monster cookie and sweet corn. I ate them both, obviously. Just thinking about the sweet corn cookie makes me salivate. Best cookie ever on this Earth. I took a lot of selfies because I’m crazy. And when we went to 54 Below, out seats were actually right next to the stage. Practically on stage. Afterwards, we met Norm Lewis, Jeff McCarthy, Alice Ripley (pictured with me! She was so nice! She’s so talented! I died!), and Nick Cearley from The Skivvies. A very successful evening!

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And finally, today, a student brought her dog to rehearsal. Best rehearsal ever? Close enough when there’s a dog involved.

So there you have it! My very busy, very exciting, very exhausting week! I hope you click on some of the links and check out The Skivvies and 54 Below and everything. They’re all awesome and worth checking out if you like theatre or musicals or music at all. Also, again, the Sweeney Todd video is phenomenal. Hopefully next week I’ll be less crazy!


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Show Week

(I wrote this while I was still at rehearsal but it won’t get posted until I get home. Late but… shhhh. It’s still Monday as long as I haven’t gone to sleep yet.)

I’ve been at rehearsals since last Monday! I don’t even know what day it is today. Well, obviously I know because it’s Monday again and I’m posting. 

The local schools had their February break, a week off in February, starting President’s day. Except the musical kids and staff. We were here every day.

It’s typically 10-4 every day,  including weekends, except president’s day which is a firm 10-2  because of the holiday. Oh and except for the student stage managers, the director, the tech kids and myself. We stay until 10 or later. And sometimes, we come in as early as 8:30.

It’s been non-stop. It’s been stressful, it’s been crazy, I had one major meltdown when I ran out of fabric for 7 costumes and had to replace it with a costume that I loathe, I yelled at some kids (some kids more than once), I made new friends (why are all of my friends kids?), I learned new things, and I’m still waiting for it all to come together.

We’re at our second and last dress rehearsal right now. We’re still feeling the effects of something like 9 canceled rehearsals due to illness and the terrible New Jersey weather (is winter over yet?), but the improvement from just last night to today is incredible. My job is by no means done. I have so many finishing touches left to do.

I’m currently watching the one scene with the costumes that I hate and I cannot stop cringing. Lesson to be learned: always have more than one backup plan.

I’m here again tonight until late and then I bop back in tomorrow morning to get ready for our matinee.

I have burns on my fingers and the skin on my fingers is actually gross from all of the pin pricks. My hands are stained with makeup.

Today, I am happy, even though my “To Do” list is still longer than it should be.

And how is my fibro with these crazy hours?

Well I’m in my third week of PT to help my back and muscles. L4/L5 are still pinching terribly. I haven’t been able to take my medicine because it makes me a little too loopy to go to work. I want to sleep. But you know what?

I am doing something that I love and running on pure adrenaline. And I can ignore the pain and fatigue for right now.

Next Sunday when this is all over? Oh yeah, I’ll crash for a solid 24 hours. But for right now, I know that if I’m happy with my job, and I’m keeping busy, I can deal with it.

The memory problems are a little bit of an issue. But I also have my laptop and smart phone with me at all times. I currently have this post open in a word doc, a 13 page list of every cast member and which costumes they have and when they change, my notes for the cast and myself in another doc, a to-do list from yesterday in yet another doc, and my new to-do list for tonight and tomorrow in a doc.

Lists, lists, lists!

Here are a few shots from my silly iPhone camera of what I’ve been up to.

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