June Theatre Recap

June brought some excellent theatre opportunities! Let’s rewind through them together.

On June 7th, Jonathan and I went to see the national tour of Disney’s Aladdin. We are members of the Dallas Summer Musicals Associate Producers group, and this particular night was Associate Producers night during the run of Aladdin, meaning we had a meetup before the show and were invited to stay for the cast party after the show. The show itself is very high-energy and entertaining! I heard complaints about the monkey and tiger characters being absent in the stage show, but since they are non-speaking characters, it doesn’t bother me that they were missing. Everyone onstage was incredibly talented and very kind in person at the party as well. It was a great night!

We also had tickets to Aladdin on June 15th as part of our subscription package. I was supposed to take Aiden, but I was violently ill that weekend, so Jonathan took him instead. Aiden chose a Genie teddy bear from the merch stand, of course. He really loved the show as well!

The next week we all traveled to Chicago (which I’m sure you read about in my Chicago Trip Recap post) and saw two shows. On June 18th we saw Six the Musical at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. This incredible 80-minute one act show started out in the UK and Chicago is the North American debut! The show is staged sort of like a pop concert, with each of the six wives of Henry VIII represented and telling their stories in an updated way from a female perspective. I have been obsessed with the UK studio cast recording for a little while now, but there was nothing like seeing the show in person. I was unexpectedly crying during the opening number (which is not at all sad, btw). I think it just hit me that women in history are often framed by men and their stories were recorded by men, and here are the lives of these six women being told in an empowering way by women. I can’t get the songs out of my head and I am just dying to see it again. Aiden enjoyed it too! He asks to listen to it all the time. Catch it through August 4 in Chicago, or this fall in Boston. It’s also still running in the West End of London and touring the UK as well.

And of course, we went to see Hamilton while in Chicago as well. June 19th marked my 4th time to see the show in Chicago (it was Jonathan’s 2nd and Aiden’s 1st). I love this cast so much and have seen it evolve so much over the last two years, but it remains my favorite group that feels like home. Miguel Cervantes, who plays Alexander Hamilton, has become a friend over the years as he and his family have worked with us at Hamiltunes Dallas to raise money for CURE (please donate if you are led to do so). He was generous enough to help us get some great seats for Aiden’s birthday and he brought us up onstage after the show. Aiden was just glowing the whole night. In Dallas our seats were much farther away and it was really cool to be close and see the actors’ expressions so clearly or have them look you right in the eye. You do miss the lighting effects on the stage when you’re that close, so I wouldn’t recommend it if it’s the only time you’ll ever see Hamilton – but it’s a fun vantage point for a subsequent viewing. Thanks again to Miguel for his kindness and time!

Our last theatre experience in June was at the movie theatre! Fathom Events hosted a filmed live from the West End version of Kinky Boots on two dates in June. On June 25th, we went to the nearest theatre showing it (which was 40 minutes away). I missed the Kinky Boots tour when it came to Dallas a couple of years ago and it’s already closed on Broadway, so this is probably the only way I’ll ever see a professional version of this show. It’s so fun and Aiden enjoyed it as well. I just saw it announced that it will be streaming exclusively on the Broadway HD service, so if you missed it at the movie theatre, you can watch it at home now!

is this the movie version of a playbill pic?

June was another great theatre month! July should be much tamer by comparison but I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. Tell you about it soon!

Chicago Trip Recap

Last week we took our son to Chicago as part of his birthday present. It was just a short trip, but it was jam-packed with adventures. This was his first time being on a plane (that he’s old enough to remember) so he quickly claimed a window seat so he could take it all in.

Once we dropped our luggage at the hotel, we headed out to lunch at Portillo’s. I had a chili cheese dog, Aiden chose a cheeseburger, and Jonathan had the polish sausage dog; cheese fries and a chocolate cake shake were shared by all. Then we headed to an afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo. If you’ve never been, this is probably my favorite zoo I’ve ever visited. It’s free, it’s gorgeous, there are lots of atypical zoo animals, it’s intermingled with city park amenities, and there are some truly breathtaking views of the city skyline. Did I mention it’s FREE? The weather was perfect for a day outside too!

After relaxing and refreshing at the hotel, we headed out for the evening. First we ate dinner the at Navy Pier location of Giordano’s. Deep dish pizza is such a quintessential Chicago thing and Aiden had never tried it! This location can have a long wait, but they will let you pre-order pizzas while you wait since they take longer to cook. We got a table quickly, but ordered mozzarella triangles and a caesar salad while we waited for our pizza. Everything was great!

After dinner we went to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater to see Six the Musical. It was such a fun show and I’ll talk more about it next month when I recap all the theatre I’ve seen in June. Aiden got pizza on his shirt at dinner and we had to pick him up a new shirt at a Navy Pier souvenir shop. Oops.

The next morning we had breakfast at Yolk, which was right around the corner from our hotel. I had the cheesy egg sandwich, Jonathan went with the chicken & waffles, and Aiden went with the happy cakes and a side of eggs. Apparently there are some Yolk locations all over the place, even not too far from home. Highly recommended!

We spent most of the morning at the Hamilton Exhibition on Northerly Island. It’s a 360-degree immersive museum-like exhibit that combines real history with the scenes of the musical. IT IS A MASTERPIECE. We spent about 2 hours going through it and I could have spent more time if Aiden had been up to it. There’s a fun surprise at the end too. It’s just breathtaking. I hope I get the opportunity to visit again.

Next we headed to find lunch! We went to Frontera Fresco inside the Macy’s on State St. I had the chipotle steak quesadillas, Aiden had cheese quesadillas, and Jonathan had the chipotle steak tacos. It was all very good and full of flavor. After lunch, we stopped at a couple of stops for necessary shopping – Garrett Popcorn and Fairgrounds Coffee – before walking over to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate sculpture (aka The Bean).

We did another afternoon of resting up at the hotel before heading back out. For dinner, we didn’t go anywhere too special – just Corner Bakery. It’s a simple casual dining chain and we have them at home, but it was nearby to our main attraction, Hamilton. We attended the evening performance of Hamilton and got to go onstage after the show with A. Ham himself, Miguel Cervantes. I didn’t tell Aiden about the onstage bit until intermission, so it was one last surprise. Aiden was so excited and also a little nervous to meet Miguel. It was so sweet!

All good things must come to an end. The next morning we grabbed some breakfast from Stan’s Donuts, packed up our stuff, and headed to the airport. Like I said, it was a quick trip – but it was great!

I love Chicago! I can’t wait until the next time I go back!

May Theatre Recap

May 2019 was another theatre-filled month! With the end of the school year, it’s often hard to fit in so much entertainment, but I managed to do it anyway. Let’s review how the month went.

On May 2nd, the high school where I work performed an encore of their State Championship-winning One Act Play, Euripides’ Medea. It’s a gut-punch of a story and I am so proud of everyone who was involved in the production (but I’m especially proud of my students who took part). I’d sadly missed all the performances before this one, but I am so thrilled that I was finally able to see their award-winning show.

On May 16th, Aiden’s theatre program did their annual play performance. This year’s show was Big Mystery Under the Bip Top and Aiden was cast as Boppy the Clown. Boppy, half of a fun-loving clown duo, teams up with his partner Bippy to help solve the mystery of who is sabotaging the circus. Aiden did a great job with his expression and acting! And of course, he was thrilled to receive his end of the year trophy.

Our May show in our Broadway subscription with Dallas Summer Musicals was Miss Saigon, so Jonathan and I went on May 17th. I’d never seen the show before and didn’t know much about it, but I liked it more than I anticipated. It’s pretty gut-wrenching to experience as a mom. Fair warning: the sexual nature of this version of the show is VERY heightened over previous versions. It’s not for kids, or anyone who is squeamish about scantily-clad women dancing provocatively or simulated sex acts. I think it definitely adds something to depicting the reality of the situation, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it. Emily Bautista is incredible as Kim, and we were fortunate enough to see her last year on the Les Miserables tour as well. If it comes to a touring venue near you, give it a chance.

On May 18th, it was back to my school for their spring musical production of Mamma Mia. I love having the chance to see my students on stage and I had several in this show. As usual, our theatre department puts on a great show. Aiden is a fan of the Mamma Mia movie, so he really loved seeing it in person. I really love how inclusive our musical productions are; the directors always find a way to use a large ensemble to include any student who wants to participate. I can’t wait to see what next year’s show line up will be!

To top of a weekend of great performances, Lynette and I went to the Ben Platt concert on May 19th. Okay, okay – so it’s technically not theatre. But it’s freaking BEN PLATT. He has a Tony Award, so close enough right? Ben’s new album, “Sing to Me Instead” is beautiful and his live performance is perfection. He’s funny, sweet, goofy, and sincere whilst singing through most (maybe all? I don’t remember) of the new album. I highly recommend that you download/purchase/stream the album and if the tour comes near you, get tickets!

Finally, Aiden attended a theatre camp at another local high school and they had a parent performance on May 31st. He did such a good job keeping up with the songs and choreography! I always love to watch him perform.

May was a whirlwind of theatre and other busy events. There’s a lot of theatre experiences planned for June and I can’t wait to recap it all with you next month!

April Theatre Recap

April 2019 was a busy month for theatre-related experiences! It was also Dallas Arts Month, so I feel like I celebrated appropriately by attending four theatre performances and hosting a theatre-related event. Let’s review how the month went.

On April 5th, I took our son, Aiden, to see Hamilton for his first time. The Philip Company opened in Dallas on April 2nd and these tickets were part of our Dallas Summer Musicals subscription package. My friends Lynette and Ashley also had tickets for that night, so I got to catch up with them at intermission. Being that it was a Friday night after a long week at school, I was afraid he’d fall asleep, but he was riveted. He loved the show so much and everyone at the stage door was so kind to him. Jon Patrick Walker (King George III) even joked with him about sneaking inside and stowing away to watch the show again the next day. He’s already talking about wanting to see it again!

If you didn’t already know, I’m on the admin team for Hamiltunes Dallas, the officially licensed Hamilton sing-along. On April 19th, we hosted a sing-along at the Dallas Museum of Art in partnership with the Dallas Summer Musicals Associate Producers as part of their Hamilton-era themed Late Nights event. We had about 500 people turn up to the event (a record for us) and it was a total blast. If you haven’t watched my YouTube video about starting and running you own Hamiltunes events, be sure you check it out.

On a whim, my friend Lynette and I bought tickets to see Hamilton in Dallas again for April 27th. We found some single premium seats that dropped in price about a week prior and went for it. We were much closer than last time and there were a few different actors on that day too. Seeing different people in the roles is one of my favorite things about seeing a show over and over! We got to meet so many people at the stage door and they were all super kind! I brought Strong Female Lead buttons from An Actor Plans to give to each of the actresses on for the Schuyler Sisters and they were so appreciative.

On April 28th, I went to Texas Wesleyan University’s production of Avenue Q. Two former students from my teaching days are in the theatre program there, and I always love to see their shows. I had never seen Avenue Q, but I knew some of the songs. It was so funny and the acting, sets, puppets (well -everything) was all very well-done. I’m so proud of Kim and Jasmine! And I’m forever grateful to Jasmine for being part the group of my 1st period AP Government class that introduced me to Hamilton.

Back when the Hamilton Dallas tickets went on sale, I bought a spare set of tickets to take my mom for April 30th. Storms were predicted but we headed to Dallas anyway, waiting to enter the theatre even as my son & husband were hiding in our tornado closet during a tornado warning at home (everyone/everything is fine, by the way). It was her first time seeing Hamilton and she really enjoyed it. Through a special arrangement from a Hamiltunes fan, we met up with Elijah Malcomb (John Laurens/Philip Hamilton) after the show for a tour of the stage and backstage area. Elijah is the nicest guy and he showed us things I haven’t seen before, even having been on the stage in Chicago and New York. It was a great night to finish out the month of April!

April was a great month for theatre, bringing my Hamilton viewing count to eight and giving me the opportunity to see Avenue Q for the first time. There’s a lot of theatre planned for May too! Follow along on Instagram to live it in the moment with me, or come back here next month and we’ll rewind through May together.

Dallas-Fort Worth 2019-2020 Theatre Season Thoughts

Dallas-Fort Worth is fortunate enough to have three venues that book national tours of Broadway shows, so there’s no shortage of professional theatre here. Bass Hall in Fort Worth, Music Hall at Fair Park with Dallas Summer Musicals in downtown Dallas, and Winspear Opera House at AT&T Performing Arts Center in uptown Dallas each schedule their own season of shows, and we’ve finally reached that point in the year where all three have announced their 2019-2020 seasons.

The highlights here are Hamilton returning to DFW (in 19-20 it will be the Angelica tour at Bass Hall), Dear Evan Hansen, Come from Away, The Band’s Visit, and Frozen.  I do have some concerns about the number of shows that are non-equity shows, particularly as part of the AT&T Performing Arts Center season, where more than 50% of the season is non-equity. While there are quality actors and musicians working on non-equity tours, I don’t think they should be included in a “Broadway subscription” package sold at the same price as equity shows. It seems like they are counting on the audiences to not know the difference and taking advantage.

What’s wrong with non-equity/non-union shows, you ask? Well, welcome to my TED Talk on the subject. Actors’ Equity (and similar unions for musicians and stagecraft professions) exist to protect the actors with an equity contract, guaranteeing them fair payment, a safe work environment, and medical coverage. Non-equity shows don’t have to follow any of those safeguards, so the cast and crew are underpaid to work in unsafe (sometimes extremely dangerous) environments and they are out of pocket for their medical expenses. I know someone who is a musician for theatre who has suffered hearing loss due to working on a non-union show because safety procedures were not in place to prevent that from happening. The producers pay far less to put on these shows, but you, the audience member, will still pay the same ticket price as an equity show. And worst of all – it’s not advertised as a non-equity tour, so the audience has no clue they’re being hoodwinked. It looks like Dallas-Fort Worth has been hit with quite the bait-and-switch for 2019-2020.

Whether you choose to support non-equity tours is up to you of course, but I would encourage you to avoid it if possible. Not that the people working on these shows don’t deserve an audience, but they also deserve a contract that takes care of them. Beyond that, audiences shouldn’t be forced to pay equity prices for non-equity shows just to line the pockets of cheapskate producers. To find out the equity status of national tours, here are some resources to check with before buying tickets:

Actors’ Equity Do Not Work List

Playbill’s List of Current and Upcoming National Tours

American Federation of Musicians’ International Unfair List

YouTube Coming April 1st!

Hey y’all, I just wanted to quickly drop in and let you know that I am launching my YouTube Channel in one week – April 1st, 2019!

Look forward to videos on my theatre-going adventures, plan with me and planner flip-throughs, travel planning, memory keeping, planner conference coverage, and maybe even the often-asked for Hamiltunes how-to! My introduction video goes live on April 1st, then weekly videos every Monday is the plan (but if life happens you might have to wait – I’m gonna be real about that up front!). Go ahead and check out the channel page and subscribe now so you don’t miss a thing! Visit my YouTube Channel here

Aiden’s 8th Birthday: A HamilParty

Flashback to last June before this page existed: I wanted to share one of my favorite things to plan – birthday parties! Our son Aiden turned 8 last year and he is a 100% #hamilkid, so naturally Hamilton would be his 8th birthday party theme! We rented a local activity center space and I got to work on planning all the fun!

Aiden and family ready for the party!

Invitations went out in black envelopes with custom seal stickers!

The party place was decorated in gold & black Hamilton finery. A playlist of Hamilton music played throughout the party. The party eats were appropriately named with Hamilton-related puns!

The party started with coloring scenes from Hamilton while enjoying the refreshments. Next the kids played Musical Colonies (a variation on musical chairs) and the winner won a tricorn hat. After that, the kids took turns attempting to Pin the Crown on King George III, and the winner won their very own royal crown. Our final activity was to head outside for a water pistol duel!

After cutting the cake, party attendees took home Playbill decorated bags with custom decorated Hamilton cookies!

It was a great party! Credit below to the following vendors: