Late to the Party; Or, Dear God, Why Haven’t I Seen Hamilton Yet?

Phillipa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Phillipa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Photo: Joan Marcus)

I really messed up on this one, friends. That’s right, I STILL haven’t seen Hamilton. I’ve never been so behind the times.

For the people out there who, as they say, might be living under a rock (or maybe they’re just not on social media), Hamilton is the new Broadway musical that’s currently taking over the world. Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Tony winner for In the Heights in 2008, has teamed up again with Director Tommy Kail and a million other crazy talented people to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton through hip hop and rap music. Perhaps you saw the scoop on “60 Minutes.” Or Miranda freestyling on the Tonight Show two weeks ago. Or heard about the education initiative in which 20,000 high school students will get to see the show for $10 each. Or seen some of the amazing mini-performances at the #Ham4Ham lottery. Or know that POTUS and FLOTUS have both seen the show (twice).

Listen, let me explain myself. I had planned on seeing it when it was Off-Broadway at The Public earlier this year, but the prices were so steep (the irony, I know) that I decided to wait until a discount became available. Then the reviews hit, and the show blew up. I knew it was going to be big – I didn’t know it was going to be a cultural phenomenon. Anyway, I felt that a post explaining myself was necessary since anyone and everyone is talking Hamilton, and it has yet to be mentioned on this blog.

This thing has been on my radar since Miranda’s first performance of a song at the White House in 2009. I was always excited because I was a super Heights fan. Back when I worked at Marquee Merchandise, the spring of 2008, we jammed out to the cast recording every day, learning all the rhymes as we charged credit cards, packaged, labeled, and mailed stacks upon stacks of pre-ordered CDs. Ah, memories. Whenever I had a spare evening that year or found myself wandering around Times Square around 9pm, I would swing by the Richard Rodgers theatre to check on the merch sellers, but really it was so I could go stand in the back of the orchestra and watch select scenes. I loved having a Broadway show on-call like that. I could go whenever I wanted. Need a little “96,000” in my life? Or “Champagne?” Want to see how Corbin Bleu is doing? I felt like the Richard Rodgers was mine. I also was watching this video on repeat at the time.

So when Hamilton hit the scene, I was ready – just not ready enough apparently. I waited on that ticket and then missed the boat. All this to say, I dropped a chunk of change (way more than it would have been at the Public, whoops) and bought my ticket a few months ago. I probably could have gotten a seat in the back and seen it by now, but for that kind of money, I wanted a SEAT, you know? December 17th it is. I will wait impatiently until that day and continue to avoid the cast recording that I so desperately want to hear.

Thus, let the one-month countdown begin. Then we can discuss.

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The First Ten Years

The First Ten Years

You guys, my friend wrote a book. Remember Courtney Romano? She wrote a freakin’ book, and its official release is tomorrow, so indulge me for a moment if you would.

MY FRIEND WROTE A BOOK.

I’m so proud (and not just because it’s the first time I’ve been included in the Acknowledgements). I’m proud because Courtney birthed this from her very soul. She’s put her blood, sweat, and tears into this, and her story is so personal and relatable it’s as if she’s speaking directly to each individual reader.

The First Ten Years: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Creative Longevity is just that. It’s accessible, non-condescending, meets-you-on-your-own-terms advice. Actually, scratch that. It’s not even advice. It’s meeting you in the middle to hash out the challenging, rewarding, spontaneous, impossible, beautiful parts of being an artist. Here’s part of the back cover description:

“You have something more to give” is the guiding mantra grounding Romano as she writes a timeless manifesto for creatives. The First Ten Years isn’t selling a six-point plan for success to the reader. It’s selling the reader to the reader. The isolated inner life of creatives (and all who feel the call to give something more) reflects through Romano’s theatrical ups and downs as she uses her missteps and achievements to curate an answer to the age-old question, “Will I make it?” “The Day Job Complex,” “Following Your Sadness” and “Why No One Likes a Perfectionist” are just a few sections that address the nuanced and delicate inner battles that creatives (from actors to entrepreneurs) fight when facing a blank canvas. Pulling those silent soap operas into the open exposes creative turmoil for what it is: an unnecessary block to our greatest work. Whether you’re heading out into the professional world for the first time, at a mid-career crossroads or wondering if it’s too late to start your masterpiece, The First Ten Years is the creative call to arms for anyone with that internal voice whispering, “You have something more to give.”

Somehow, Courtney has the astounding ability to find the exact right words to describe the life of a creative. Any creative. That includes accountants, lawyers, doctors. Everyone has creativity within him or her; it doesn’t need to be manifested through traditional “art.” We are all going on this journey together and individually.

I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy this past week. As I found myself bookmarking pages and highlighting quotes that struck me or were so on point that I thought the book was actually written about my life, I would remember, hey wait, Courtney wrote this. This isn’t an out-of-reach, someone-I’ll-never-meet author. These smart, inspiring words came from my friend. As it were, I’m going through a big transition in my life right now, and I feel lucky that I have this book to turn to, not to mention the author behind the words.

If you find yourself in New York City, there is a Launch Party tonight at 7pm at The Late Late in the Lower East Side (159 East Houston Street). There will be drinking and talking and awesomeness and a reading from the book by the woman of the hour. You can order the e-book now, or pre-order the paperback. I can’t wait to get that baby in my actual hands.

Follow Courtney at @courtneyromano, or keep tabs on the hashtag #thefirst10. And you can watch the book trailer here (or below). I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book:

I can’t tell you where you should go or who you should be or what mark you will make on this world. But I can definitively tell you this:

You have something more to give.
The world is waiting for that one thing that can only come from you.
You know how to give it. 


**
The First Ten Years: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Creative Longevity
Written by Courtney Romano, Illustrated by Match Zimmerman, Edited by Megan Bungeroth, Book Trailer Directed and Edited by Kennedy Kanagawa


These Are a Few of My Favorite Searches

So with my WordPress blog, I get a fancy little dashboard that tracks my posts and site statistics. The statistics include how many hits each post is getting or where in the world my readers are based. The dashboard also has a section called “Top Searches.” These are the searches on Google, or whatever people like to search with (Bing?), that brought readers to my blog. They type something in, it has enough in common with the tags I’ve used on past posts, and Becca on Broadway pops up in their search results.

Why am I telling you all this? Because some of these searches are AMAZING. Over the past couple years, I’ve saved my favorites, and I thought I would share them with you now (with my comments in italics below). I hope you get as much enjoyment out of them as I have.

“what scene in rent does idina menzel show butt”
Clearly the most important part of that musical.

 “a million miles away ARADIN”
Um…

“80 minute sex”
I can only assume this brought up the blog because of my Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man review. Don’t get any ideas.

“understanding hedwig”
It’s a tricky one I suppose.

“hedwig and the crazy inch”
That inch is inSANE.

“i’d dan lauria starring in s christmas story in 2014”
Someone is in desperate need of spellcheck. And no, unfortunately Dan Lauria left A Christmas Story when the run ended at the very end of 2013.

“in the book of mice and men what are 3 things that lennie contributes to his friendship with george”
Sparknotes, anyone?

“change in mood comes when swastika is sceen in cabaret”
I’ll say.

“clint eastwood aladdin”
Now this I need to see.

“what was the reality show that aired briefly about conjoined twins”
Oh Side Show, I miss you.

“fren gully broadway tickets”
Yes! Great movie! Make it happen!

“mailchimp podcast”
Mail…kimp?

“twins on broadway show really conjoined”
Seriously?

“does steven pasquale have a girlfriend”
Mmm. I hear ya.

“rosie odonnell character cosette”
Okay, actually THIS is what I need to see.

Here’s hoping these keep pouring in, and this can be a regular installment!


Rating System: Activate!

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to the one, the only – Becca Doodle.

Smile Option 1    Meh Option 1     Frown Option 1

 

 

 

 

Becca Doodle will be making appearances with my review posts from now on to give you a quick look as to how I feel about a show.

Designed and drawn by me with the most innovative of technology (ahem, Paint), Becca Doodle will help guide you as you make upcoming Broadway ticket-purchasing decisions. As you likely can gather, there’s happy Becca Doodle, sad Becca Doodle, and meh/somewhere-in-the-middle Becca Doodle (shout-out credit to Allie for the shrugging arms idea). This is really advanced stuff, I know, but go with me on this journey, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Becca Doodle’s future theatrical adventures!


The Prodigal Blogger Returns…

Oh hey there, friends. That was quite the unexpected hiatus, but I’m back! How was everyone’s summer? …and fall apparently. (Winter is coming). ((I don’t even watch that show)). Want a quick recap of where I’ve been?! Thought so!

My brother got married! How beautiful is this?

Wedding

I had an 80s murder mystery birthday party and got to murder my friend Neil. It was quite the evening.

Murder Mystery

In July, I went to the 25th Annual Spelling Bee Reunion Concert, and it was as delightful as you’d expect it to be.

I saw a whole bunch of shows, many of which have since closed (sorryyyy): 10 Out of 12 at Soho Rep, The Wild Party and A New Brain at Encores, Cymbeline at Shakespeare in the Park, John at Signature. But I also saw things that are still running like The King and I, Fuerza Bruta, and Spring Awakening so we can get back to those at a later date.

I went to my friend’s wedding in the Bahamas and made another music video in honor of the occasion!

I visited my good pals in Chicago and my brother up in Boston.

I took my first improv class ever this summer, and it has been hilarious and terrifying all at once.

I went to a friend’s wedding in upstate New York — noticing a trend? One more in November will wrap up 2015 for me. Look at the pretty bridal shower!

And I just had a full weekend of shows which I will be posting about soon, I promise.

ALSO. I’m going to be introducing a rating system this week for the theatre I see. Stay tuned for some brilliant drawings by yours truly.

Until next time!


Summertime Recap and Tony Prep

Summertime

Well hello, old friends. Sorry to disappear on you for so long there. As most of you probably know, I’ve been practically living in Gowanus, Brooklyn the past two weeks putting up our production of Summertime. Despite a tumultuous chain of events, I think we made a beautiful play, and I’m so proud of it and everyone involved. Here is a peek at some production photos to give you a little taste. And to stay up-to-date on our future projects, you can subscribe to our mailing list here.

But now down to business. It is prime Tony season, and I am BEHIND! I gotta stop producing shows in May! Here is what’s topping my list right now of what I need to see, ideally before Tony Night on June 7th.

  • Fun Home – Missing the run at the Public was my big regret of the 2013 season, but I found solace knowing it would likely come to Broadway. And yet I STILL haven’t made my way over there so this is definitely a top priority.
  • An American in Paris – I should’ve snagged preview tickets on TDF when I had the chance. Now it’s a huge hit and a main contender for Best Musical this year. I’m buying tickets for this later today to catch it next Wednesday.
  • Airline Highway – I never miss a Julie White show. I’m also buying tickets for this today to go next Saturday.
  • On the Twentieth Century – I’m seeing this next Thursday with Jenn! It’s going to be a busy week!
  • The King and I – Sadly I won’t get to this in time for the awards, but I did snag tickets for mid-July with the roomie.

There are others of course (The Visit, Skylight, etc.), but they’ll have to fall to the wayside for the time being.

So – are you ready for Tony night? Excited for Alan and Kristin? Which performance are you most excited to see? What do you think will take home Best Musical?

Summertime
Written by Charles L. Mee, Directed by Jenn Haltman
Gowanus Loft, May 7 – 17
Photo Credit: Craig Hanson Photography
Pictured: Spencer Aste, Josh Doucette, and Becca Schneider


Japan Calls!

Old Montreal

Friends! I have many a show to share with you, but sadly they (you?) must wait a little longer as I am leaving for Japan this afternoon. Yup, you heard right. I’m off to explore the country for two weeks. Cross your fingers for good weather today as Diana and I depart at 5pm.

I’ve managed to pack my life into a backpack and a tiny wheelie. I’m actually quite impressed with my abilities to condense. And my extra impressive ability to pack at the last minute.

Where are we going on our adventures, you wonder? Spending mucho time in Tokyo and also swinging by Nagano (snow monkeys!!), Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, and Miyajima. Music videos to come!

And don’t you fear, I plan on working on a few blogposts during the 14 hour flight. In the meantime, I’ll throw a couple recs your way. If you haven’t had your fill of Into the Woods yet, you should stop by Roundabout Theatre Company to see Fiasco Theater’s bare bones production. It’s a treat. And for something totally different, swing by Signature Theatre to see Charles Mee’s Big Love (a play very close to my heart) for only $25! More thoughts to come on those.

I shall return from the other side of the world in March! Stay warm, Broadway fans. Let me know what you see while I’m gone. Sayonara!

Photo Credit: Diana Chan
P
ictured: Bee and Dee in Old Montreal