Spring/Summer Show Recap

Reopening in-person theatre has been a precarious notion throughout the later stages of the pandemic. School and community theatres seem more eager to reopen than professional productions, but as we move into fall, there are all levels of theatre reopening. I was able to experience a few in-person theatre productions this spring & summer, and I wanted to relive those experiences with you.

Back on April 29, my school’s theatre department held socially-distanced, masks-required performances of their one act play selection, People, Places, and Things. It was so strange and amazing to be back in a theatre seat waiting for the lights to go down. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few tears about it. The students put on an excellent production and I know they were thrilled to be performing for an audience again.

On June 18, long after school was out, I went with some coworkers to see one of our school’s choir directors in Garland Summer Musicals‘ production of Grease. This was my first time seeing a musical since February of 2020 and to be in a packed community theatre was a little weird. It turned out to be a great experience and the show was really great!

Then on July 16, Jonathan and I went to Dallas Theater Center‘s production of Working. This regional theatre company performed at an outdoor theatre space in Texas in July, and what they were able to do in that kind of heat was incredible. They took the original concept of the show about the working people of America, and added in interviews from local front-line workers and really tied the show into the experience of local workers during the pandemic. It was really well-done and even despite the sweat rolling everywhere and the mosquitos, we really enjoyed the show.

Then in late July, I went to NYC with my friend Lynette. Broadway wasn’t really open yet (except for Bruce Springsteen, and we’re not dropping that kind of money), but we still found some shows to get into for that trip. On July 29th, our first night in the city, we went to the off-Broadway production of The Office! A Musical Parody. Masks were required for this performance at the time (and now full vaccination is required for all shows in NYC). They somehow squeezed 9 seasons of characters and gags into two acts with a very small cast. It was hilarious!

The next night (July 30), we went to see a different kind of off-Broadway show – Drunk Shakespeare. As the show’s title suggests, one member of a company of actors takes a few consecutive shots of alcohol and the company performs a work of Shakespeare (Macbeth at this performance) whilst hilarity ensues. This show required all attendees to be fully vaccinated, so masks were not required. The stage and seating area is small and intimate and we were sat on the edge of the stage. I was even handed a puppet to play Lennox for a few minutes! It was really a fun night!

Our final show in NYC was August 1st at Feinstein’s/54 Below for the cabaret style performance of John Cardoza entitled Things I Learned from My Roadtrip Playlist. The evening was a musical and storytelling journey that made us laugh and cry. John invited several Broadway friends to join him onstage including Lauren Patten, Sam Gravitte, Christiane Noll, and Gabrielle Carrubba. It was a truly magical night of music. If you’ve never seen a show here, you absolutely should! Food & drinks were great, and the intimate atmosphere is just incredible.

Wicked was the first national tour to reopen, and they happened to reopen here in Dallas. Being back at Music Hall at Fair Park as Dallas Summer Musicals subscribers was pretty special. We went as a family on August 7th, and then I went again on August 26th as a social event with the Associate Producers, the young professionals group for DSM. Somehow I had never seen Wicked before this, and though I had heard enough music to know I would love it, it hits as especially relevant in this time of racial reckoning during a pandemic. It was a wonderful show.

Fall is shaping up to have more incredible live theatre experiences so be sure to come back for those updates. They will probably be monthly now that things are picking up!

Trip Recap: NYC

If you read my last post, you know that I recently went to NYC for the NYC Planner Addicts Expo. Of course, for my first post-Covid vaccination trip, I had to do more than just the event. I went with my friend Lynette for a few days before and stayed a few after, taking in old favorites and new experiences in the city. We even got an extra day in NYC due to storms at home and flight cancellations.

Normally I would walk through the trip day by day and share photos and stories, but wordpress is not playing nice with all my HEIC photos and it doesn’t even like them when I converted them to jpeg format. I’m over it! But if you want to see how it all went down, I’m going to link you to a few places for highlights!

Youtube Recap & Trip Memory Keeping

Day 1 Instagram Post

Day 2 Instagram Post

Day 3 Instagram Post

Day 4 Instagram Post

Day 5 Instagram Post

And I’m also sharing a quick photo dump of what wordpress WILL allow me to post. Enjoy!

NYC Planner Addicts Expo 2021

I finally got to attend a LIVE, IN-PERSON planner event. Last year’s postponed NYC Planner Addicts Expo was rescheduled for July 31, 2021 and I was thrilled to be back in NYC. The event was held at the DUMBO Lofts in the DUMBO area of Brooklyn. I’ve never been to Brooklyn on any previous trip to NYC, so it was nice to check out a new neighborhood. The event was Broadway-themed, so I was super excited to get back to the planner event space with that as the guide. I was all a little bit of a whirlwind – seeing people in person, all of the fun and flair of a planner event, and the greatest city in the world. The morning session was full of inspirational speakers and planner ideas, then after the break, the late afternoon/evening was open to shopping with vendors, make-and-take stations, and raffle prizes. I’ll share the day in photos to tell it properly.

It was a great event and I had a lot of fun! It was the perfect opportunity to attend a planner conference after all that has happened since March of 2020.

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!

Resources:

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.