2020 Theatre Recap

So, umm…hi? As the few of you who regularly come here have probably noticed, summer came and my blog mostly went away. Since I was using it to recap theatre and travel – and theatre became largely non-existent (at least in the live sense) while travel has not been the best idea in a pandemic – I lacked the motivation to write. Pretty much once I went back to working on campus at a public school where students were attending against prevailing science, I couldn’t keep up with one more thing and something had to go! While I can’t turn back time and make up for lost opportunities to share, I can do one thing. Today I am sharing a full look back at my 2020 theatre experiences, live and virtual.

Normally I only count live, in person theatre on my show list of the year and through February, that was still true for 2020. After February I allowed counting a virtual viewing if it was a totally virtual production or it was filmed live on a stage/soundstage or it required a ticket purchase to view. Movie musicals (such as The Prom) did not count and only the first viewing in 2020 could count. Here’s my 2020 show list, with links included:

The year’s shows documented in my traveler’s notebook insert using stickers from An Actor Plans

1/2020 – Freestyle Love Supreme (Broadway)
1/2020 – Mean Girls (National Tour)
1/2020 – Hamilton (Chicago Company – Closing Show)
1/2020 – Hadestown (Broadway)
1/2020 – Jagged Little Pill (Broadway)
1/2020 – Moulin Rouge (Broadway)
1/2020 – Beetlejuice (Broadway)
1/2020 – Hamilton (Broadway)
1/2020 – Emojiland (Off Broadway)
2/2020 – Selected scenes from 101 Dalmatians [Kids] (District Elementary Theatre Showcase)
2/2020 – The Band’s Visit (National Tour)
2/2020 – The Bridges of Madison County (Repertory Company Theatre)
4/2020 – Newsies (Filmed Live on Stage, Streamed via Disney+)
5/2020 – Puffs (Filmed Live Off Broadway, Streamed via BroadwayHD)
5/2020 – Fun Home (Victory Gardens Theater, Streaming via Vimeo Event)
5/2020 – Bandstand (Filmed Live on Broadway, Streamed via Broadway On Demand)
6/2020 – Memphis (Filmed Live at the Hollywood Pantages, Streamed via BroadwayHD)
6/2020 – Scenes from Harry Potter (Oh Look Performing Arts Summer Camp)
6/2020 – Falsettos (Filmed Live at Lincoln Center, Streamed via BroadwayHD)
7/2020 – Hamilton (Filmed Live on Broadway, Streamed via Disney+)
7/2020 – Improv Scenes (Oh Look Performing Arts Summer Camp)
7/2020 – Shrek the Musical (Filmed Live on Broadway, Streamed via Netflix)
7/2020 – Legally Blonde (Filmed Live on Broadway, Streamed via YouTube)
8/2020 – Southern Baptist Sissies (Filmed Live on Stage in LA, Streamed via BroadwayHD)
8/2020 – A Killer Party, Season 1 (Virtual Musical, Streamed via Vimeo)
8/2020 – Jekyll and Hide (Filmed Live at the Old Vic, Streamed via YouTube)
8/2020 – Performance Class Monologues (Dallas Theater Center Virtual Classes)
8/2020 – Our Offering (Virtual Play, Streamed via YouTube)
8/2020 – Kinky Boots (Filmed Live in London’s West End, Streamed via BroadwayHD)
10/2020 – Sweeney Todd (Filmed Live on tour, Streamed via BroadwayHD)
10/2020 – Gretchen & the Grudge (Virtual Play, Oh Look Performing Arts Center)
11/2020 – What the Constitution Means to Me (Filmed Live on Broadway, Streamed via Amazon Prime Video)
11/2020 – A Christmas Story Live! (Filmed Live for Television)
11/2020 – Holiday Inn (Filmed Live on Broadway, Streamed via BroadwayHD)
12/2020 – The Grinch Musical (Filmed on stage for TV)
12/2020 – Jagged Little Pill Reunion Concert (Filmed on stage, streamed via ticketed event)
12/2020 – ‘Twas the Night (Radio Play, distributed via The Hamilcast podcast)
12/2020 – In the Bleak Midwinter (Filmed Live at Dallas Theater Center, Streamed via ticketing service)
12/2020 – Estella Scrooge (Virtual Musical, Streamed Via Universe)

I am looking forward to the day when we can gather in the theatre again and experience all of the feelings that come with a live show. But for now, I’m spurred on by the virtual theatre that exists. See you back here, hopefully soon!

Event Recap: NYC Planner Addicts Virtual Expo

I was meant to travel to NYC in July. I had tickets to Hamilton, and Six, and the NYC Planner Addicts Expo. Hamilton and Six were refunded as the Broadway shutdown amid this global pandemic rages on, and the planner event was rescheduled for July 2020. The organizers wanted to give us something to do to connect as planners this summer, so they planned a virtual one day event for ticket holders at no additional cost. I was super impressed!

We were able to submit photos ahead of time to allow Draw My Party to create caricature drawings of us. Here’s mine:

The sessions were held in a private Facebook group for ticket holders. We took lettering classes and watercolor classes from Miranda of Desert in Bloom Co. My lettering is still not great but I feel like Miranda did a great job of not rushing through instructions of the strokes and I understand it a lot better (I just need practice). The watercolor class came easier to me and I really enjoyed it! We heard panels from shop owners, had a session on self-care, and even closed the night with a DJ’d dance party.

What I found especially helpful were the vendor spotlights! Shop owners each got a few minutes scattered throughout the day to share products from their shop. I honestly spent more than I normally would with the vendors because the spotlights helped me see what they were offering and how to use it! I usually don’t like to approach busy vendor tables where I have to elbow my way in, so I thought this was a perfect alternative. I also won a couple of the giveaways sprinkled throughout the event so I have a lot of happy mail coming.

Honestly, pandemic or not, I hope this event can be the start of more virtual planner events. There’s less expense for the hosts which translates to less cost for the attendees. It also makes events more accessible to those with disabilities, those without childcare, and those are not local. Not to say that there should never be in person events (I absolutely love those and will return when it is safe), but more options is always better!

Hamilton on Disney+

June was a month of disappointments, theatre-wise. I was meant to see the Eliza company of Hamilton in LA (cancelled). I was meant to see the tour of Frozen in Dallas (cancelled, followed by the announced permanent closing of the Broadway production). I was meant to see the Angelica company of Hamilton at home in Fort Worth (rescheduled to 2022). My Broadway tickets for Hamilton and Six in July were cancelled. I continued my Broadway Weekends at Home classes and watched some things on Broadway HD, but there wasn’t a ton of theatre to access at home in June. And then it was July.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, a filmed stage performance of the original principal Broadway cast of Hamilton was released on the Disney+ streaming platform on July 3rd at midnight PDT. The recording is minus one original ensemble cast member who had already left the show (Betsy Struxness, the originator of the Woman 2 track). This is no mere pro shot like you might see in a Fathom event in movie theatres. This is a dynamic movie-quality production shot over 3 days in June 2016, including 2 live performances with an audience, and another day of close-ups and on-stage filming with just the cast. There are cameras shooting from every angle, even from overhead. Director Tommy Kail really knocked out the selection of shots in this film to leave us with the best possible filmed version of this show. It is masterful.

We wanted to have a good time in getting ready to see this show at home. I made us paper tickets that resemble the design of the tickets we receive here in Dallas for our Dallas Summer Musicals subscription package. I designed a Playbill-type cover personalized for the occasion as well. People have asked me to sell or share these, and I don’t have the copyright authority to sell them nor do I have the software to share an editable pdf. And while I’d like to make free personalized copies available to everyone who asks (and I have done so for a few people who have asked), it would be an undertaking to do on demand for free and I will not tangle with the Hamilton and Disney lawyers to accept money for it. At the end of this post, I will link a few Hamilton programs for this recording that exist for free that you can use instead.

The first watch was me, by myself in the dark at 2AM Central time when it dropped onto Disney+. I woke up from my nap a little early and went through the Whataburger drive thru so I could have a breakfast BURRito as my themed show food. It was the perfect atmosphere to see the show for the first time. Having seen this show 12 times live, I was still knocked out by this filmed version. The closeups really pull you into the characters’ emotions in ways even the best seats in the house (and I’ve sat in those) could not. Afterwards, I tweeted “#HamilFilm is masterful. Same body responses I have in the theatre in all same parts – chills, tears, laughs, stomach aches, it’s all on my TV in brilliant detail. Thank you @Lin_Manuel and @disneyplus and all the @HamiltonMusical cast, creatives, & crew. Thank you.”

In the morning after breakfast, we had our first watch of Hamilton as a family. We decided to celebrate in style and truly re-create the theatre experience. We dressed appropriately, entered through the front door, visited the merch & concession stands, and even waited in line at the restroom. There are some still shots below, but the entire process was documented on TikTok here (you can watch even without an account): https://vm.tiktok.com/JRQpkKL/

I’ve watched it 4 times already and I’m sure there will be many, many more viewings to follow. I am aghast that we just HAVE it. It’s ours. It lives in our TVs and smartphones and tablets. I’m still finding new things to see and deriving new meanings from the lyrics. This show is my favorite thing, and now I can literally carry it in my pocket. And even with its new-found accessibility, I’m more hungry than ever to see it live and in person. Broadway’s intermission has been extended until at least 2021. I’ll be on the first flight I can get away on when it does. I hope you all enjoy my favorite thing!


Playbill Program for the Filmed Performance

Disney+ Version of the Hamilton Program (this is a Twitter thread, you’ll need to save the images from all three parts of the thread)

Filmed OnStage’s Hamilton Credits Program

Annotated Hamilton Lyrics

The Hamilcast – A Hamilton Podcast by Gillian Pensavalle, with many episodes including interviews, with cast, crew, and creative team members of Hamilton (website is linked, but also listen wherever you get your podcasts)

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (the book that inspired the musical)

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter (the book about the show)

The Essential Hamilton: writings of Alexander Hamilton compiled by Joanne Freeman

Hamilton Original Broadway Cast Recording

The Hamilton Instrumentals

The Hamilton Mixtape

The Hamildrops (additional mixtape type songs dropped monthly throughout 2018 and saved in a spotify playlist)

Black Lives Matter

Usually by now I would have written a recap of the virtual theatre experiences I had in May, but every time I thought about writing that out it felt super hollow. If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a bit, you’ll notice that I’ve always spoken up to point out injustices and societal biases as they happen. Now that our country’s racism has reached a boiling point, the past week of my content has been sharply focused on sharing black voices and anti-racism action items.

I decided I could not go on blogging about theatre and planners as usual because I wanted to state my sincere belief in and support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and that does not allow us to “go back to normal”. Normal was toxic, hateful, oppressive, white-washing, gas-lighting, and murderous – and I cannot contribute to the normalization of those actions. Instead of my normal, I am taking this opportunity to share resources, action items, petition links, etc.

Places to Start:

Black Lives Matter National Resource List

Anti-Racism Action Items

We See You, White American Theatre – Movement & Petition

I’m working on creating a highlight on my Instagram of black-owned planner shops, so look for that soon! I don’t know if I’ll post my May recap later this month or just skip it, but for right now I’m just not feeling it. We’ve all got a lot of work to do to dismantle systemic racism within ourselves and our country. Let’s get to it!

April Show Recap(ish)

Another month at home has come and gone. I thought I’d share the scheduled shows that didn’t happen in April and the at-home theatre moments we did get to experience.

On April 4th we were meant to see a local production of Matilda at Casa Manana regional theatre, but it has been rescheduled for July (and I anticipate another date change honestly). April 18th was meant to be the next show in our Dallas Summer Musicals subscription – RENT. It has been postponed for now and they are working to reschedule the performance. Finally, I was meant to see A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Texas Wesleyan University on April 26, but it has also been postponed to the fall or later with no specific date set.

April was luckily filled with an abundance of events online and on television to bring Broadway and Broadway performers into our home. There’s no way I could have caught every single thing (like why is there more opportunity for FOMO at home with all of this?) but I did have lots of great entertainment. My favorite was the reuniting of the original Broadway cast of Hamilton as they sang Alexander Hamilton on the YouTube weekly show, Some Good News. Lin-Manuel Miranda popped up on special episode of Sesame Street: Elmo’s Play Date. There was a Disney Family Sing-Along on ABC which included lots of familiar broadway faces. Then ABC aired last year’s benefit performance of Disney on Broadway to raise money for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS’ COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. For Sondheim’s 90th birthday, Broadway.com hosted Take Me To The World, a from-home concert of lots of wonderful Broadway peeps singing Sondheim songs. I also got to attend a musical trivia night with other members of Dallas Summer Musicals’ Associate Producers.

I’ve also continued taking classes with Broadway Weekends at Home! I love the weekly Disney Sing-Along! I’ve also made it to a few Mean Girls choreography classes with Sarah Crane of the US tour cast and SIX choreography classes with Jodie Steele of the UK tour cast. Checkout their Facebook group to join me in their free (donation suggested) classes.

It’s not the April I planned, but it still held some great theatre experiences. I’m going to keep coming back each month during this #OnlyIntermission closure of live theatre and sharing how I’m staying involved. See you in May!

March Show Recap

Well March was nothing like I planned. COVID-19 cancelled everything, and for good reason. While I’m glad my local governments took smart, decisive action to cancel large gatherings (like theatre!), it doesn’t mean I don’t mourn the loss of my favorite thing that happens outside of my house.

I had tickets to two shows in March. The first was the national tour of the off-broadway show, The Office Musical Parody, which has now been postponed for an unspecified future date. Second was our next show in our Dallas Summer Musicals subscription, Come From Away, which has already been rescheduled for January 2021. I was excited to see both of these, but I’m glad they aren’t cancelled. I will see them eventually!

Even though shows weren’t happening in person in March, I still managed to have great interactions with theatre people online. The performing arts community has bloomed online and I have been taking full advantage of these opportunities. On March 27th, Seth Rudetsky hosted some In the Heights original cast members for a mini reunion on his YouTube live show, #StarsInTheHouse. Later that afternoon, I took a free zoom class in choreography from Jesus Christ Superstar taught by Ashley Andrews (the US tour associate choreographer), hosted by Broadway Weekends. Lin-Manuel Miranda popped up on Mo Willems’ Lunch Doodles on that same day, but Aiden and I didn’t watch until the next Monday. On March 30 I took an Instagram live jazz class from Hamilton broadway cast member Karla Puno Garcia.

So though this month didn’t work out how I planned, I am hopeful that I can make it through this time of shutdown. I have access to learn from people I wouldn’t normally, and I am grateful for those opportunities in the meantime.

I would also encourage you to donate to a few organizations to support theatre artists during this time of no work:
Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund
The Actors Fund

🎶 To the world we dream about, and the one we live in now🎶 (Livin’ It Up On Top – from Hadestown)

Trip Recap: Puerto Rico

After visiting Puerto Rico last year with friends to see Hamilton, I knew immediately that I had to go back and take my family. I planned the trip for 2020 during our spring break from school, not knowing that a global pandemic would be declared in the middle of our trip. Thankfully we made it there and back with precautions, and made it home before things started closing down. Let’s do the last trip recap from me for awhile – we are doing the right thing and staying home!

Monday March 9 was our travel day – our family of three and my mom got ready to head to the Caribbean. There is only one direct flight from Dallas to San Juan each day, and it’s at 4:45 PM, so travel basically comprises the entire first day of a trip to Puerto Rico from here. We arrived at our hotel (The Condado Plaza Hilton) after 11 PM and got ready for bed as quickly as possible.

Tuesday March 10 was our beach and pool day. We had breakfast at the hotel restaurant (Cafe Caribe) and then headed out. The beach at our hotel (Playita del Condado) normally has very still water due to large rocks nearby, but some bigger waves made it through on this day due to very high seas in the area. There were several beach vendors from which we bought treats (pina coladas in fresh pineapples, fresh coconut water in a coconut, and helados – a fruit-based ice cream) for our time on the beach before heading to the pool. The pool was shady and the water was colder, with a big water slide and a swim up bar. We stayed until we were starving, then we grabbed some lunch. We did a clean up/relax in the room for a few hours before going to dinner at a local place called Waikiki. We thankfully made it back to the room before the evening rainstorm started!

Wednesday March 11 was our day to explore Old San Juan. We started by having mallorca for breakfast (the restaurant goes by various names according to google, yelp, etc – La Mallorca, Cafeteria Mallorca, or just Mallorca). We really enjoyed our meals and Jonathan and my mom loved the Puerto Rican coffee (I’m not a huge coffee person, so I didn’t partake). We walked up to the national park monument at Castillo San Felipe del Morro (or El Morro, as most people call it). This fort has parts dating back to the 1500s and it is massive! We didn’t tour the whole thing, but we saw quite a lot of it. We were hot and tired as we left and stopped for piraguas (a Puerto Rican shaved ice treat) to cool off. We walked through the streets, stopping in shops, and stopping for one more frozen treat – limbers (like a homemade popsicle made of fruit juice). We stopped for a lunch break (at Bari’s Handcrafted Pizza) as soon as an afternoon downpour started. After the rain cleared, we shopped a bit more and headed back to the room. After being sweaty and gross from walking around all day, we needed cleaning up before heading back to Old San Juan for dinner at Raices. Our hotel’s ice cream counter was still opened when we came back, so we got dessert and called it a night.

Our last day was Thursday March 12 and we truly tried to pack in a lot of great experiences. After breakfast, we rented a car and drove to Vega Alta to visit La Placita de Güisin and Galería Lin-Manuel Miranda. They’ve really expanded the exhibit and made a more permanent gallery that what I saw last year. Abigail was very kind and gave a detailed tour of each piece in the collection. On our way to the car, we stopped in the local bakery to grab a few treats to eat while packing later on that night. On our way back to San Juan, we stopped at El Meson Sandwiches, a fast food-ish chain, for lunch. Then it was time for one last trip to the beach and pool! We didn’t stray far for dinner and stayed at the hotel restaurant since we needed to pack and it was going to rain again.

And that’s it! on Friday March 13, we flew home that morning to a different world than we’d left. We had multiple cancellations happen while we were in flight (schools, theatre performances, concerts) and Puerto Rico began enforcing a curfew the next day. I have three trips scheduled for June & July, but who knows if those will stay as scheduled at this point. All in all, this was a great trip to remember during this time when we must stay home.

February Show Recap

February’s theatre attendance was NOTHING like January’s, but I still took in several performances. Let’s take a look back!

The month kicked off with theatre right on February 1st. Our school district’s annual Elementary Theatre Showcase performance was held, with Aiden’s drama club showing a preview of a bit of their spring show, 101 Dalmations (Kids). Aiden had a few lines as the Chihuahua narrator, and they did a couple of musical numbers. The kids did a great job and I can’t wait to see the full show in April!

Our February subscription show with Dallas Summer Musicals was The Band’s Visit. We actually had tickets on our normal Friday subscription night, but it happened to fall on February 7, my birthday. The show is a one-act and is a very different show than I usually watch in that it’s subtle and quiet. It had many more moments of comedy than I anticipated, but plenty of touching moments as well. I enjoyed it, but it’s not something I need to see repeatedly. I would see it again if it was in a subscription or I won a lottery seat, but I wouldn’t seek it out. But I know people who consider it their favorite show, so there’s something for everyone! It’s definitely worth seeing for yourself.

The last show I saw in February was Repertory Company Theatre’s production of The Bridges of Madison County. My friend Gayla was cast in the show as Marge and I wanted to go support her. The show was lovely (I never saw the movie or read the book, so I had no clue what it was going in). It’s funny and heartbreaking, accompanied by the gorgeous and complicated music of Jason Robert Brown. I’m glad I never encountered the story in any other format; I have a feeling the musical version would be my favorite.

That’s it for February! March will be sort of light on shows too, unless something unexpected happens. Come back next month and we can relive those shows together!

Trip Recap: NYC & BroadwayCon 2020

It’s a few weeks later and I’ve finally settled back into life enough to talk about my latest trip to NYC for BroadwayCon. We did see lots of shows during this trip, but I’ve already covered those details in my January Show Recap, so I won’t duplicate that here.

Lynette and I headed to NYC on Wednesday January 22. After checking into our hotel (Hotel Edison, my favorite theatre district hotel), we grabbed lunch at Patzeria Perfect Pizza just outside the hotel on the 46th St side. Us Patreon Peeps of The Hamilcast jokingly refer to this place as “Scientology Pizza”, as it’s next door to a church of Scientology and Hamilton cast members who’ve been on the podcast have mentioned calling it by that nickname. I can’t say if it’s the best pizza in New York or not, but it’s consistently good and it’s inexpensive and that’s good enough for me. We decided to take the ferry over to Weekhawken, NJ and see the Hamilton-Burr Dueling Grounds. The views of the city are breathtaking from across the river and there’s a somber little monument on the cliff above the dueling grounds to visit.  We did a little treat shopping at Schmackary’s (don’t sleep on the funfetti cookie), and then got ready for the evening. We met some other peeps at dinner at B Squared, and then went to see Hadestown. Pretty successful for day 1!

Thursday was our two-show day, but we still managed to squeeze in a few other adventures. We had breakfast at Bond 45 (the BEST eggs benedict on the planet) before heading out for a little shopping. We browsed the planner goodies at MUJI and bought gifts for the kids in our lives at the Times Square Disney Store. Before heading to show #1 (Moulin Rouge), we went to City Kitchen for lunch. City Kitchen is a small food hall and it’s great for groups when everyone has a different food preference. Lynette had a lobster roll from Luke’s and I had a steak quesadilla from Gabriela’s Taqueria, and we both chose a donut for dessert from Dough. After our matinee, we had just enough time to get dinner before our evening show (Jagged Little Pill). We went to Junior’s (the 45th St location); I had the grilled cheese with bacon and Lynette had the loaded potato pancake and they were both great! The show ended our night and that’s the end of day 2!

Friday was the first day of BroadwayCon 2020! We grabbed a quick breakfast at Carve, then headed to the convention hotel. We shopped in the marketplace and went to a panel on De-stigmatizing Mental Health before lunch. When it was time to eat, we headed across the street to Café 53, a typical New York deli with lots of quick food options. I had a grilled chicken club sandwich that was fantastic! We went back to the convention and grabbed seats for First Look, a session full of performances from new and up-and-coming shows on Broadway, hosted by Alex Newell. The session ended with the highlight performance from the queens of SIX, which began Broadway previews just last week. We had a troubled dinner at Dutch Fred’s (long story short – the hostess was a witch who didn’t want to seat us because we weren’t hot, trendy 20-somethings) and then went to Beetlejuice. The stage door was an impossible mob scene, so we went for dessert instead. We went to Hell’s Kitchen to Holey Cream, and ice cream shop that makes ice cream sandwiches on donuts. I had birthday cake ice cream on a chocolate glazed donut and it was amazing. That was it for day 3!

Lynette didn’t feel well on Saturday, so I got another quick Carve breakfast and headed back to BroadwayCon solo. I started the morning with a photo session with Queen Lesli Margherita, literal Broadway royalty. Then I walked the marketplace a bit, then caught the end of the Harry Potter & the Cursed Child panel so I could have a good seat for the following Beetlejuice panel. I wanted to leave the hotel for lunch, but it was raining pretty heavily so I opted to stay. I had a hot sandwich and some chips from Herb ‘n’ Kitchen, the counter service restaurant at the New York Hilton Midtown. I watched a few minutes of the Broadway Makers panel before I needed to go change clothes for my afternoon workshop. I was selected as a participant in the SIX Dance Workshop, taught by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille (choreographer) and Eliza Ohman (US assistant choreographer and Hamilton alum). It was such a blast and Carrie-Anne and Eliza were wonderful to us. I rushed from the workshop to my scheduled autograph session with Kelli O’Hara before heading back to our hotel room to clean up for the evening. Lynette and I had a lovely dinner at Sardi’s, where the food is delicious and the service is impeccable. It was so cool to see all the Broadway portraits on the wall as we ate and chatted. After our evening show (Hamilton), we stopped back by Scientology Pizza for late night slice. Day 4 was great!

Sunday was the last day of our trip. We started with a peep breakfast at Brooklyn Diner (the 57th St location). They were great at accommodating our group! Then it was back to BroadwayCon for a panel after our own hearts on the legacy of Hamilton. After all the heartfelt tears dried, we walked the marketplace one last time so I could say goodbye to so many of my friends who were vending this year. We had another quick lunch at Café 53 (the food on the hot bar is not as good as the made-to-order stuff, btw) and then headed over to 42nd street for one last show (Emojiland). After the show we picked up our luggage and headed to airport. After a dinner at the LaGuardia Five Guys, we were headed back to Texas and it was all over.

This trip was just incredible. A little sightseeing, lots of good eats, face time with internet friends, and a whole lot of Broadway magic made it perfect. TAKE ME BACK!

January 2020 Show Recap

Buckle up theatre friends, January 2020 was INCREDIBLY full of theatre fun. Let’s get into it!

On January 2nd I flew to NYC to catch Freestyle Love Supreme before their January 12th closing. If you’ve been under a rock, FLS is a freestyle/improv/rap performance started by Lin-Manuel Miranda and his friends way before he was putting up Tony-winning musicals on Broadway. The show is different every night, built of off audience suggestions and experiences, and the cast is comprised of different performers every night. For this first show of 2020, FLS was comprised of Anthony Veneziale (aka Two Touch), Aneesa Folds (aka Young Nees), Chris Sullivan (aka Shockwave), Utkarsh Ambudkar (aka UTK the INC), Andrew Bancroft (aka Jelly Donut), Arthur Lewis (aka Arthur the Geniuses), and Kurt Crowley (aka The Lord & Lady Crowley). The show was so amazing – both hilarious and heart-warming. They used one of my words (“Authentic” – written on a card and placed in a bucket before the show) in their Foundations of Freestyle bit. And a little later, Two Touch took my shouted suggestion of “multi-level marketing” when they asked for things we hate (even though he admitted he didn’t know what it was and hilarity ensued). After the show I met several cast members at the stage door, and they were all super nice and took time to talk to each of us. Rumor has it that a tour is in the works, but who knows where FLS will pop up next! Definitely go see them as often as you get the chance!

I left NYC for an intentional theatre trip to Chicago and on January 4th some friends and I saw the national tour of Mean Girls at the Nederlander Theatre. The book and lyrics have been noticeably changed since the Broadway production and the recording of the cast album, so that was a fun surprise. The show is still just as fun as I remembered, and I really enjoyed seeing it again!

January 5th was the real point of my trip to Chicago – the closing show of Hamilton in Chicago (#OneLastCHI). The theatre was buzzing with energy and I spotted several original Chicago cast members in the crowd. Everyone’s stage entrance was greeted with cheering and applause, but Miguel Cervantes got a standing ovation for at least a full minute upon his entrance as Alexander Hamilton. Tamar Greene received a similar ovation following “One Last Time”. Everyone in the audience (definitely including myself) was seemingly crying through the entire show. Afterwards the stage door line stretched around the block, but many actors came out and I was thrilled to congratulate them all. Miguel had to run to an event at the restaurant across the street, so I didn’t get to congratulate him unfortunately. I’ll tell him next time I see him, I suppose!

After the drama of the closing show, it was only appropriate that we had a Hamiltunes Dallas event soon after on January 15th. This event was at a first-time venue for us, the Deep Ellum Art Co. The crowd wasn’t as large as it has been in past, but everyone was super engaged and had a great time!

On January 22nd I headed back to NYC with my friend Lynette for BroadwayCon and all the shows! That night’s show was the much-anticipated Hadestown at the Walter Kerr Theatre! The show was INCREDIBLE. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s an intermingling of the Greek mythology love stories of Hades & Persephone and Orpheus & Eurydice told through New Orleans-style jazz and blues music. I’ve been in love with the cast recording for so long and seeing it onstage was just the best. This is going to be a show that, like Hamilton, I could see again and again. Stage door was a long process on this particular night, but I got to meet some wonderfully talented and sweet people.

January 23rd was a two-show day for us on Broadway! First we saw the matinee of Moulin Rouge at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. A few of the leads were out, but it didn’t detract from the show in the least. The set is gorgeous, of course. The show is a visual feast – much like the movie – full of details and beauty and movement. The show has nods to those who loved the original movie but the music has been updated with some more recent songs. It’s not the best show I’ve ever seen or anything, but it’s a damn good time and I would see it again if/when it goes on tour. Stage door looked like a mob scene and we needed to get dinner, so we skipped it.

After dinner, we went to the evening performance of Jagged Little Pill at the Broadhurst Theatre. I CANNOT BE MORE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR NEED TO SEE THIS SHOW. The music is obviously Alanis Morrissette songs (not exclusively from the JLP album), but the story revolves around a family and related friends dealing with adoption, opiate addiction, sexual assault, gender identity, and other progressive issues of our current time. I’ve always loved these songs as this is the music of my teen years, but giving them context in this way is so incredibly powerful. Lauren Patten (“Jo”) is a force to be reckoned with onstage. The stage door was crowded but we stayed and got autographs but not pictures. Did I mention to go see this show?!

On January 24th, we went to the Winter Garden Theatre to see Beetlejuice. It’s so so funny! The cast is so skilled at playing the jokes so well that it feels improvised (though Alex Brightman explained at BroadwayCon that there is almost no improv in the show). This show makes light of death (because as the lyric says, “that’s the thing about life, no one makes it out alive”) but also pays homage to the original movie. The set is STUNNING (thank you, David Korins) and the performances are over-the-top. Aiden would love this one! I can’t wait for it to tour.

January 25th was our day to see Hamilton on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. We stopped by the bar to wish Happy Birthday to Mike Anthony (the bar manager) and went to our super awesome seats (truly I think front row of the front mezz center is the best view in the house at this theatre). Several former Chicago and Philip Tour cast members joined the Broadway company this week, so it was great to see favorites from several Hamilton companies all together on stage. This was my second time seeing the show on Broadway (#12 overall) and it was my first time to stage door here. Hamilton people are just the nicest people, and this was no exception. If you still haven’t seen this show, just do it. Save your pennies, play the ticket lottery, buy the worst seat in the house – it’s worth it to be in the room anyway you can.

On January 26th we saw our last show of the trip, the off-broadway production of Emojiland at The Duke on 42nd. This is such a fun show! I did note a few areas for improvement that could be made before a potential Broadway run, but the characters are engaging and the music is great. I wish we could have stayed for the stage door here, but we had a plane to catch so we had to run.

WOW! That is 9 professional shows in January, not a single one at home! It was a whirlwind of plane rides and playbills, and I am so glad it happened. Come back next month for a much shorter show recap!