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!

Trip Report: NYC and Chicago

I decided to start off 2020 right with a theatre-related trip! I went to both NYC and Chicago right at the beginning of January to catch a Broadway show before it closed and to be there for the closing of Hamilton in Chicago. Here’s a brief recap with some moments highlighted in photos.

Thursday January 2nd I flew to New York City very early. I spent the afternoon browsing the sights and shopping (Bryant Park Winter Village, Rockefeller Center, Times Square) and eating all the things (Los Tacos No 1., Baked Cheese Haus). After a quick refresh in my hotel room (with a view of Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre), I took myself to dinner at Bond 45 and headed to the Booth Theatre to see Freestyle Love Supreme! It was a great show but I’ll save the details for my recap of January shows.

On the morning of Friday January 3rd I flew to Chicago. I met some fellow patreon peeps of The Hamilcast for lunch at Revival Food Hall and took a little walk to explore the Federal Reserve of Chicago Money Museum. I did a little shopping, ordered pizza with Vicki & Jess of Design Pandemonium, and played cards with the peeps. It was a full day!

Saturday January 4th started early with a trip to Do-Rite Donuts. My friend Jenn arrived soon after and we headed out for the day. We visited the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, did a little shopping, and had lunch with Hamilton’s Sean Green. After an afternoon of relaxing, Jenn, Jess, Vicki, and I headed to dinner with the peeps before seeing the Mean Girls tour at the Nederlander Theatre.

Sunday January 5th was the main event – the closing show of Hamilton Chicago. It was special, emotionally-charged, and I’m so thrilled I made the trip for this occasion. After the show I headed to airport to get back home in time for work on Monday. It’s been a few weeks now and I’m still not over it.

If you want more details (like almost an hour long walk through), check out my youtube video of the report on this entire trip:

December Show Recap

December was full of great shows! Let’s get to the recap!

December 6th was my second Jonas Brothers concert of the year, this time with much better seats. I was right at the end of the runway that extends out from the stage, meaning close enough to make frequent eye contact with the brothers. They put on such a great show and now I’m spoiled with these seats. I’ll never buy cheap seats again as long as I can afford it; the show is so much better up close.

On December 7th we went to my school for the fall musical, Sister Act. I’ve never seen this as a musical and it was so so good. Our students are super talented and always do a great job, but this show kicked it up a notch. There were lots of opportunities for students to do great comedic character work and it was great to see them shine.

December 8th was a surprise! I won the Dear Evan Hansen lottery and got to take my mom to see the show on closing night. It’s such an emotional show, but I held it together *a little* better the second time. It’s a great show and super important in our current society, but I don’t think it’s one I need to see over and over and over. It sticks with you!

Finally we had a family outing to the Winspear Opera House at AT&T Performing Arts Center to see the national tour of Once On This Island. Jonathan and I saw the show on Broadway in the summer of 2018, so it was nice to take Aiden and to see how the show translated to touring. The set was redesigned for touring from the in-the-round set on Broadway, though some audience seats were placed onstage within the set to try to keep that intimate feel (at least for those few seats). The cast was just as talented, and in fact, several of them had come from the Broadway company. The only noticeable difference was the lack of live animals (goats and chickens) used to create the atmosphere on set. It’s a one act show at 90 minutes with no intermission, so it’s a great one to fit in your schedule even when it’s jam-packed at the holidays. Do see it if you get the chance!

Even with the busy nature of December, I still managed to see a lot of shows! Hold your hats, January is going to be wild. With theatre-related trips to Chicago and New York (including BroadwayCon), it’s sure to be an exciting recap next month!

Disneyland Trip Recap

We decided to spend half of our Thanksgiving break this year taking a family trip to the Disneyland Resort. It was over a month ago now, but with all of the holiday hustle & bustle, I’m only just now getting around to writing about it.

Day One was a Saturday and we flew to LAX, grabbed our rental car, and headed to our hotel in Anaheim. We opted to stay at Camelot Inn & Suites – a five minute walk to the parks at half of the price of the resort hotels. Rather than trying to hit the parks (it was already late afternoon), we decided to do dinner and shopping in Downtown Disney. We had amazing burgers and split a giant crazy shake at Black Tap Craft, took a few pictures, and bought a few souvenirs (rather than carry them around the parks). It’s the best way to slowly enter into a Disney vacation.

Day Two we decided to head back towards LA to explore Hollywood. We ate breakfast at Grumpy’s Donuts in Anaheim before driving to Lake Hollywood Park, where we could take beautiful pictures with the Hollywood sign. Then we explored Hollywood Blvd where we found both stars and footprints, and grabbed lunch at Los Burritos. In the afternoon we headed to Burbank for the Warner Bros Studio Tour! We were taken all over the property including a sound stage, the prop house, the backlot sets, and more. Aiden got sorted (Gryffindor) in the gift shop and chose a wand from Harry Potter (Sirius Black). After the tour we ate dinner at Bob’s Big Boy and then headed back to the hotel for an early night.

Day Three was finally a park day – we went to Disneyland! We started by heading straight to the new Galaxy’s Edge section of the park and got in line for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. Such a fun ride in such and immersive world! We tried a few treats, Aiden made his own lightsaber, and we saw all there was to see before moving on to the rest of the park. It was somewhat crowded but we managed to ride everything on our must-do list and eat some good stuff along the way too. We stayed until about 7:30pm, then went back to the hotel to rest our feet. We ended up watching the Disneyland fireworks from the hotel’s pool deck!

Day Four was the day for Disney California Adventure! We started out the day at Soarin’, then hit up Pixar Pier and Cars Land. Aiden discovered his favorite ride – Guardians of the Galaxy Mission – Breakout (we rode it twice). We took a mid-day break at the hotel after lunch and then headed back to the park for a few more rides, dinner, and the evening show, World of Color: Seasons of Light. It was a perfect Disney day!

Day Five was the end of the fun. We headed back home and got ready for Thanksgiving the next day. I could honestly ramble on and on about every detail of this trip because it was so great, but probably nobody wants to read that. I love traveling and I love Disney and this trip was basically perfect. Until next time!

November Show Recap

November didn’t contain as many theatre adventures as October, but I still managed to have a great time! Let’s go through last month’s theatre happenings and see how it all went.

November 1st was Dallas Summer Musicals’ Annual Gala, held to raise money for all of the education and community outreach programs they support. We aren’t big bucks donors, so we don’t get invited to the dinner portion, but we were able to get (cheap seat) tickets to the performance. This year’s show was hosted by Chita Rivera, featuring performances from Kelli O’hara and Amber Riley. Everyone was super talented and put on a great show. Kelli O’hara had me both laughing and crying with her stories and songs and Amber Riley has a powerhouse voice too. There are always unannounced special guests, and this year’s guests were Adam Pascal and Caissie Levy! Adam Pascal is the nicest guy (I was fortunate enough to meet him at the Something Rotten! tour stage door a few years ago) and it was awesome to see him perform the songs from Rent for which is he so well-known. Caissie Levy may be the original Elsa in Broadway’s Frozen, but I first saw her onstage at my first professional show as Maureen in the 2002 tour of Rent. It’s cool to follow someone’s career like that! It was a great night and I’m definitely sold on attending these gala events in the future!

The 2019-2020 season at Dallas Summer Musicals kicked off this month and the first show of the new season was Cats. Aiden and I went on October 16, since Jonathan is not a fan of Cats. Aiden loved it and I enjoyed it as well. Cats gets a lot of flack and I get it – it’s weird. But I love the choreography. In general, I think people who first see Cats as kids tend to like it and adults who are seeing it for the first time tend to hate it. The touring cast does an amazing job with the intricate moves and exhaustive vocal score. If you have never seen it give it a try! Just don’t take it too seriously – it’s not a thinker, it’s just for fun.

Rarely do we get two season shows in one month, but November is when it happened this time. Dear Evan Hansen came to Dallas Summer Musicals at the end of the month, and Jonathan and I went on November 29.

* Spoiler alert ahead if you haven’t seen this one.*

This show wrecked me in every way. As someone who has dealt personally and professionally with many of the situations characters face, it’s a whole lot of emotion. I’ve seen many people over the years express concerns about all the lies Evan tells and the emotional manipulation at play for him to “get the girl”. As someone who works with teenagers, it’s not neat/happy/kind, but it sure is realistic. Teens make mistakes in coping with depression, anxiety, divorce, loss, and social situations all the time – and sometimes they screw up big. Those who are living with mental illness and contemplating suicide tend to screw up even bigger. Some others express that Evan doesn’t have any consequences. I mean Evan obviously loses the girl, which is no small thing when he’d already said she was his literal only reason for living. I would wager that the creatives felt it was more important to end the show with hope, grace, and a reminder of our connectedness as humans than a punitive scene. No show can ever tell a complete story and sometimes it doesn’t need to. Plus Alex Lacamoire is an orchestral genius and can do no wrong on my book. But my face was so wet. Bring tissues – I forgot mine!

November was a great month for theatre! Looking forward to the shows December will bring!

October Show Recap

So originally when I looked at October a few months back to evaluate which shows I might see, there really wasn’t much going on. I thought I wouldn’t be seeing much of anything at all. But then I was made aware of some opportunities and the details started falling into place, and before too long October was filled with theatre! Let’s rewind through October together.

On October 4th, I headed up to Denton to see North Central Texas College’s production of Be More Chill. I just can’t get enough of this story and the music and I’m still very sad about it closing so early on Broadway. The company did an incredible job with this show and I really enjoyed it. Definitely catch this show in any format you can – it’s so, so good.

In the same weekend on October 6th, my school was hosting their fall showcase of shows. They do three one act plays back-to-back and I had students in each of the shows to support. This year’s shows were Our Country’s Good, White Buffalo, and 1984. Each show was different – redeeming, reverent, and intense. I’m always so proud of our students and I love seeing them on stage!

there wasn’t a physical program for this show, but this was the flyer used to advertise!

Because my school’s theatre department never seems to rest, I went to another of our school’s productions on October 10th. Our school teamed up with another school in our district to present Romeo & Juliet. Our school represented the cast of the Capulets and the other school represented the cast of the Montagues. They only completed three combined rehearsals before putting up the show and it was so great! I’m really proud of our theatre kids and how they always rise to new challenges.

there was a QR code to scan for a digital program this time, and this is a screenshot of the cover

Later that weekend on October 12th, we had a late-night theatre night at Oh Look Performing Arts Center to see Evil Dead the Musical. We purposely purchased seats in the splatter zone, meaning we got splattered with a heavy dose of stage blood anytime a character died or was injured onstage. The show is slapstick comedy full of adult language and lots of horror-genre appropriate gore. We left looking like we’d committed murder, but we had a great time.

October 17th was our last Hamiltunes Dallas event of 2019. It was unintentionally timed after Miguel (of Hamilton Chicago) & Kelly Cervantes lost their little girl Adelaide to complications related to epilepsy, and because we’ve worked so much with Miguel’s family in the past, we knew this was a time to act. We donated our ticket sales to CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy) and encouraged our attendees to make a donation in Adelaide’s honor as well. If you would like to make a donation, please click here.

On Saturday October 19th, I took Aiden to Artisan Center Theater to see The Hunchback of Notre Dame. One of the teachers at my school was in the show, so that was a surprise (the program showed that he was in the opposite cast than was on that day). I love shows at this theater because it’s an intimate setting and every seat is quite close to the action. It was a great performance and Aiden really enjoyed it.

So the next day on October 20th I got together with several of my friends to support our friend Gayla as Little Red in Into the Woods at the Repertory Company Theatre. Gayla was great and it was so good to see her in her element! She’d previously taken a few-years break from acting so this was the first show she’s done since we’ve been friends.

I thought that was it for October. At the very least, it was all I had planned. Then my mom told me she had an extra ticket to the national tour of Menopause the Musical due to a friend who couldn’t attend. So on October 27th, I joined my mom and another friend of hers at the show. It’s a one-act musical that explores the various ailments of menopause through parodied versions of 60s and 70s hit songs. The show is hilarious, and the cast is really talented! It’s definitely a show targeted at women, but the few men in the audience seemed to enjoy it as well.

October was a blast! November is slated to be much simpler, but I guess you never can tell. Come back next month to see how it turned out!