I’ve got my metaphorical dancing shoes on and am ready to celebrate the magnificence that is NYC theatre at the inaugural BroadwayCon event!
Okay, so maybe I’ll be wearing snow boots in lieu of ballet slippers as I flurry from one panel to another. However, the impending storm may cause headaches, schedule adjustments, and canceled sessions, but it won’t lessen my excitement.
I look forward to meeting other theatre fans and gaining insight from those in front of and behind the curtain.
Calling all Broadway fans! We’re getting our own convention!!!!
As you can tell from my overuse of exclamation points, I’m just “slightly” excited about the announcement of this event. I love theatre and am passionate about it’s ability to entertain, inform, and inspire. I support the art form and have great respect for the gifted artists on stage and behind the scenes who bring these shows to us 8 days a week for months, years, or decades.
The first-ever convention for Broadway artists and their fans takes place at the New York Hilton Midtown hotel from January 22-24, 2016. Tickets go on sale March 15, 2015 but check out the website to learn more about the ticket package options. Don’t delay or ponder, as you just may miss an opportunity to share in this inaugural event.
The BroadwayCon team just announced the first thirteen guests, which include artists I’ve seen perform live (Gavin Creel in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jason Tam in A Chorus Line, and Andy Mientus in the recent revival of Les Misérables) and ones whose names I know but haven’t witnessed their talent firsthand. I’ve waited at the stage door after many a performance and saw the mutual admiration between the fans and the artists. The performers stop to sign souvenir books, take selfies, and say “Hello” to theatre-goers of all ages. I’m always grateful for the opportunity to tell them their work is appreciated and that they did a great job.
This conference sets the stage (*wink, wink*) for fans, artists, producers, and more to interact with and learn from one another. What an amazing opportunity for all of us!
Please visit the BroadwayCon website for the full range of details about tickets, special guests, hotel info, and more.
*DISCLAIMER: No endorsement from the BroadwayCon organizers, their affiliates, sponsors, or artists involved is implied.*
*I reached out to one TV network and received what amounted to a non-answer. Hmm, I have a feeling this is going to take a lot of research and someone who understands legal-speak.*
As you can tell from the large gap between blog entries, I haven’t written any new “insights” about my favorite films, television shows, or theatre performances in a while. Part of the reason is due to the 111 Day Artistic Spirit Pledge that I focused on from October until the end of January (the full list can be found on myauthor website). For 111 days, I wrote about the link between art (in its various forms) and spirituality. Given my love for film, television, and theatre, many of the pledge entries were entertainment-focused. Here are just some of the ones relevant to entertainment:
The other reason I haven’t written anything new is an admitted lack of knowledge and information about blogging rules and guidelines. The idea that I could be infringing on copyright laws or improperly citing a TV show or film title (unintentionally, mind you) worries me enough to delay posting. I went out into the great, wide world of the internet to search for “blogging about TV” or “entertainment blogging guidelines”, but found a lack of helpful information. So, what do I want to know?
PHOTOS: Including images in blog posts adds an extra layer of professionalism and helps catch a reader’s attention. Yet, when writing about a film, tv show, or musical/play, can I include a photo? If so, where do I find them and do I need to request permission in order to embed the image?
VIDEOS: Similar to photos, can I include clips of shows or movie trailers in my blog posts? If so, do I need permission or are they notified when I copy/paste an EMBED link?
TITLES/NAMES: Whenever I mention a TV show, film, or musical/play, I always include a hyperlink (whenever available) to the original/official website. I want to make sure that readers interested in learning more about the titles I write about can easily find the original source. Are there guidelines/rules in place for including links to official sites of using the names or shows/performers?
TAGS: Are there any restrictions to including a television network or actor’s name as a meta tag in a blog post entry?
I hesitated writing about this topic for fear that I would appear unprofessional or come off as an amateur. Then, I realized there are probably many more entertainment fans (like myself) who are as interested in blogging about their favorite shows as I am. I sincerely doubt I am the only one wondering about how we can best promote and support the industry without violating any copyright or infringement rules.
I’ve obtained some helpful feedback from fellow writers, but I am interested in expanding my knowledge of this specialty in the ever-advancing blogosphere.
A haunting re-telling of a Broadway classic, the current staging of Les Misérables embodies all the aspects of the show that fans love with a rawness that adds a new perspective.
Throughout 25+ years and many adaptations, Les Misérables remains a beloved musical. With the newest Broadway revival gracing the Imperial Theatre’s stage, an entirely new generation of theatre-goers get to experience the sweeping music, powerhouse vocals, and moving story.
I was thoroughly impressed and moved to tears during a recent Saturday matinée performance, and here are just a few reasons why:
MUSIC AND LYRICS: Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s tremendous score and profound lyrics lives with you long after the curtain closes. This treasured musical makes in indelible impression on not only the performers but the audience, due in large part to the incredible music. The melodies float as needed, like during the instrumental “Bring Him Home” reprise in Act Two. The stunning harmonies of “Turning” echo the voices of not only those lost but of the ones left behind.
VOCALS: The music of Les Misérables demands incredible vocal prowess. You must be able to do justice to the beautiful yet powerful melodies while infusing emotion into the meaningful story. Each cast member, principal and ensemble, achieves that and much more. Just try not to cry during “Bring Him Home” or sympathize with his plight during “Who Am I”. Bring a sweater, because you’ll get chills when Caissie Levy belts out “I Dreamed a Dream”. When Will Swenson sings “Stars”, you understand what motivates Javert while also fully aware of his tormented soul.
GIFTED ARTISTS: If you are well-versed (pun intended) in musical theatre talent, then you’re already familiar with some of the gifted performers. The following actors excel in their craft, creating performances that are both memorable and heartfelt: On the day I saw this show, the Jean Valjean understudy, Aaron Walpole went on in the starring role and was tremendous. Given Aaron’s phenomenal job, I’m look forward to seeing Les Mizagain to experience Ramin Karimloo’s award-winning interpretation of Valjean. Will Swenson’s Javert embodies anger, righteous determination, and a conflicted soul, all of which this well-respected artist handles with ease and talent. Caissie Levy breaks your heart as she balances Fantine’s unwavering love for her daughter and determination to keep fighting. Nikki M. James’ exquisite range is on display in her role as Éponine. She grabs hold of Éponine’s fiery personality, infusing fragility, tenderness, and selfless love to this iconic role. As Marius, Andy Mientus takes us on a journey of self-discovery. Marius’ youthful energy, adventurous side, and naïveté early on brings home the severity of what’s to follow. When Marius is thrust into situations that require him to re-examine his beliefs and what’s worth fighting for, we believe his plight due to Andy’s adept handling of the role. Remember the names of Keala Settle (Madame Thénardier) and Samantha Hill (Cosette), as these two talented actresses will both surprise and impress. The ensemble cast members enrich the production with subtle nuances and powerful moments, adding depth to each scene. Pay close attention to the student rebel scenes, as these young men are both impressive and heartbreaking.
STORY: Based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, this musical is not only a story about forgiveness and redemption but one about love. Whether that love takes shape in the form of friendship (rebels), family (Fantine/Jean Valjean/Cosette), or romantic entanglement (Éponine/Marius/Cosette), love guides the actions and intentions of the characters. As we sit in the audience, we’re invited to examine our own choices and perspective. Do we choose hate instead of love? Do we reach out to those in need or pass judgment? Are our decisions based on a need for power and control, or are they guided by love for ourselves and others?
As soon as the lights dimmed and the familiar opening chords reverberated through the room, I smiled. This amazing theatrical work affects me not only on a musical level but a spiritual one as well. I venture to guess that many of you would say the same. You may have seen the 2012 film version or saw Les Misérables during an earlier run, but I recommend experiencing this modern stage telling of Victor Hugo’s novel.
*DISCLAIMER: I do not have affiliation with any of the afore-mentioned talent or anyone associated with this production. No endorsement by the artists or musical mentioned is implied! I’m simply singing their praises!*
Set on the island of Inishmaan in 1934, this poignant play makes you laugh, cry, and contemplate not only the actions of the characters but your own as well. As this small village must face their own flaws and struggles, both internal and external, the audience reflects upon their own. All of the above is possible due to a seamless blend of gifted actors, a talented playwright, and thought-provoking direction. Let’s look deeper at each, shall we?
ACTING: Each and every one of the performers who grace the “Inishmaan” stage at the Cort Theatre embody complexity, comedic excellence, and heartfelt performances. From Broadway newcomers to veteran stage actors, this cast shines individually and as a team. One moment you’re laughing and the next you’re moved to tears. The gifted acting ensemble weave in and out of comedy and drama with ease, giving their characters dimension and authenticity. I applaud them all and with pride I list them here – DANIEL RADCLIFFE, INGRID CRAIGIE, PÁDRAIC DELANEY, SARAH GREENE, GILLIAN HANNA, GARY LILBURN, CONOR MacNEILL, PAT SHORTT, JUNE WATSON, HELEN CESPEDES, LESLIE LYLES, AIDAN REDMOND, and JOSH SALT.
WRITING: The talented cast may be the “face” of the play, but Martin McDonagh provided them with richly-layered dialogue and flawed yet immensely human characters from which to work with. At times he takes you right to edge of offense only to interlace the darkness with witty humor and a reminder that we may not understand the characters’ choices/actions but perhaps have made similar ones ourselves.
DIRECTION: Taking McDonagh’s words and entrusting them to a talented ensemble of actors, Michael Grandage guides us on a journey we won’t soon forget. Each action has meaning, purpose, intention. Every pause adds dimension to an already layered piece. He’s created an environment where the performers and story are equally impressive. One can not excel without the other. He’s to be commended for creating a piece of theatre that will stay with you long after the curtain falls and the house empties.
Experience the multi-faceted dimensions of THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN sooner rather than later as it’s only at the Cort Theatre for a 14 week engagement. You’ll be “cow”-ting your blessings that you did! (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge for those of you who’ve already seen it.)
Please visit their website and connect through social media.
*No endorsement by those involved with THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN intended or implied.*
“The Wizard of Oz” was never one of my favorite films growing up. I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, but I just couldn’t connect with it on an emotional level. Many years later, the Broadway musical WICKED ended up becoming my all-time favorite show – topping even LES MISERABLES. Trust me, that is quite a feat.
I consider myself a musical know-it-all, but in actuality I’m more of a know-it-most. I’m well versed (hee hee) in shows of the past 15 years or so. Beyond that, my range is minimal. I listened mainly to the “classics”: Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Miss Saigon. I only saw Les Mis on stage twice, but I had the entire album memorized. To this day it is not uncommon for me to break out in song. Just say Papa and I’ll start with “Papa, Papa, I do not understand…” and sing the rest of the Epilogue. Not only does the story take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions but the music matches in intensity. I never expected another show to affect me as much as LES MISERABLES has, yet WICKED achieved that and more!
In 2003, I heard about a new Broadway musical that starred Idina Menzel (RENT) and Kristin Chenoweth (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown). It is a story about the witches of Oz, told from a very different perspective than popular culture is familiar with. I knew instantly that I wanted to see this show…HAD to see this show. I started reading the novel it is based on, more on that later, and was 3/4 through by the time I saw the show in the spring of 2004. I sat next to my mother in the orchestra level of the theater, the smile plastered on my face even before the lights in the house dimmed. From the first swell of the music and mesmerizing visuals, I knew this would be an adventure of a lifetime.
Every single moment of WICKED affected me on not only an artistic level but a spiritual and emotional one as well. This is not only a story about friendship and standing up for what you believe, though both play a significant role in the overall success of the piece. More importantly, in my opinion, WICKED soars due to its ability to knock down walls and expectations, especially those we define ourselves by. It’s up to us to define ourselves and the choices we make; to soar to new heights, overcome unreasonable and sometimes cruel restrictions, and defy that which holds us down.
If you have yet to see this brilliant musical, put it on your must-see list! Regardless of whether people singing on stage is not your “thing”, keep an open mind. You might just gain appreciation for not only the power of musical theater but of your own capability too.
*To learn more about the incredible novel of which the musical is based, click here to read more about Gregory Maguire or buy any, or all, of the WICKED series.*
*UPDATED 1/8/2015: Once has since closed on Broadway, but the show is currently touring. Visit their website to see the tour schedule and get tickets!*
My dad’s side of the family is Irish and my mom’s got Czech lineage. That’s not the only reason I went to see “Once” on Broadway. It was an odd, yet fitting, blend of two interests – genealogy and music!
On the train ride home from NYC yesterday I decided I’d write a blog post about the amazing matinée performance of “Once”. I’d give a thorough review with praise and compliments for everyone involved. While that’s still the plan, the method of transporting that message has changed. A separate blog post will follow with a more typical type of review. Instead of describing the who, what, when and where of “Once” this post seeks to pay tribute to what I believe the show’s message to be – love. For country, music and one another.
I woke this morning thinking about how proud I am to be Irish. How much I love this culture and all the richness it’s brought to my life. Granted, my third great-grandparents emigrated from Ireland to America in the mid 1860s but I still consider myself Irish.
There’s something so engrained in my spirit that connects me to that part of my ancestry. Perhaps it’s the mystical element. The Celtic traditions so steeped in grace, beauty and magic. But what I truly believe to be the strongest link is…ART. Music speaks to me in a way nothing else ever has. The melodies, the harmonies, the fulfillment of sweeping scales and gorgeous vocals. Irish music tells stories and as a storyteller myself I gravitate to that which does the same.
Nearly ten years ago I traveled with a tour group to the southern points of Ireland. From places such as Killarney, Kilkenny, Cork and Dublin. I climbed Blarney Castle and kissed the Blarney Stone.
I walked from my Dublin hotel, through the park and onto Grafton Street. I rode on a horse pulled carriage along the streets of Killarney into its National Park. My brief visit at the Muckross House ultimately being the catalyst for my YA fantasy novel.
In each town that we visited a few of us ventured out to the pubs each evening. I had some Guinness, enjoyed the company of new friends and listened with intrigue to each band that entertained us. The ambiance differed from the bar scene back home. At the Irish pub it was about chatting with one another, dancing and letting the music lead the evening.
And that brings me back to why “Once” moved me so. It took me back to that wonderful August week in 2004. To the incredible musicians who shared their love of music with the rest of us. Artists who used their passions and talents to unite us all in a shared experience. We came from different places, had different backgrounds and different needs but for a few hours we simply existed in the same time, same place and same moment.
Multi-talented artists grace the stage at the Jacobs Theatre 8 times a week. Each one of them not only singing but playing a musical instrument as well. Including an instrument that looked like a cross between a mini piano and clarinet. Anyway, from the moment you enter the theatre music invites you in; welcomes you into the environment and a shared musical experience. Even so much as allowing audience members on-stage to get a beer and watch the musicians perform. I stood at my seat and watched with an artist’s pride at what was unfolding before my eyes. Music linking us all together. Respect for the art form and all that’s it’s capable of achieving.
Throughout the next two hours I beamed with pride; knowing that this was a moment I’d remember for a lifetime. This brilliant theatrical piece may differ from the traditional Broadway musical but it achieves the same goal in a different fashion – sharing passion for art with those who need to hear it.
Now, back to researching the Czech side of my family!
**SPOILER ALERT! – If you have not read the novel, seen the film or know the stage production of Les Miserables and do not wish to know what happens then please do not read on.**
My first introduction to Les Miserables occurred while watching a beauty pageant on television. During the late 80s, early 90s, Les Miswas one of 3 shows that everyone talked about – Cats and Phantom of the Opera being the other two. But if you didn’t sing soprano and were anywhere near the age of 18 then it was more likely you’d gravitate to Les Mis, and the strong-willed character of Eponine.
I heard “On My Own” while watching said beauty pageant. Not knowing much of anything about the storyline I asked my older sister to explain it to me. As she relayed the story and I tried to listen to the words of the song being performed I meshed the two together and came away with an odd understanding. “So, this young girl is singing about an old blind guy?” Until I actually listened to the soundtrack in full did I understand and appreciate the story as a whole.
Who doesn’t root for the character who loves unrequited? A fiercely loyal and evidently scarred young lady who’s mistreated by all of the people in her life. Yet she shows strength and complexity while displaying an unbelievable amount of unconditional love. Eponine’s love for Marius was, and still is, one of the most beautiful love stories in musical theatre. It’s heartbreaking, moving and ultimately tragic but when Eponine joins Marius on the barricades (unbeknownst to him) and stands with him as his equal there’s something so poetic and romantic about that moment.
Here’s a girl who grew up without a solid foundation beneath her. With parents who used their daughter to their own advantage. In evaluating the lyrics of “On My Own” and “Little Fall of Rain” I’ve come to the conclusion that the references of darkness and rain are actually reminders of the bleak life she led before Marius entered her world. “Sometimes I walk alone at night when everybody else is sleeping. I think of him and then I’m happy with the company I’m keeping.” While she had hoped to have been loved in return it was the mere fact of his presence in her life that brought her joy – gave her something to look forward to in the midst of deplorable conditions.
Eponine’s death gets me every time because despite all of the horror that surrounded her she died in the arms of the man she loved. She was at peace. She was home. And while Marius goes on to live a happy life we don’t truly know the depth of his feelings for his friend. That definitely peaks my creative mind and in researching Les Misfan fiction I’ve realized that I’m not the only one intrigued!
There are two significant moments in Les Misthat help develop Eponine’s character journey, yet both occur once she has passed. Firstly, moments after her death the students sing “We fight here in her name. She will not die in vain. She will not be betrayed.” For the first time in Eponine’s brief life she’s valued. She’s noticed and her presence to be remembered. Then during the “Epilogue” Eponine appears with Fantine to guide Jean Valjean into the afterlife. Eponine’s life was filled with as much love as there was sadness and the moment she recognized that she was able to die in peace. So, it is completely fitting that she stands on that stage and sings “And remember the truth that once was spoken, ‘To love another person is to see the face of God'”.
Unfortunately, due to artistic choices neither of those moments appeared in the recent film adaptation of Les Miserables. Perhaps the interpretation of Eponine differs from mine but that doesn’t diminish what makes this character so timeless – unrequited love and perseverance through adversity. Plus, she gets one of the BEST songs in the show!
Sports fans wear the jerseys of their favorite players, assemble fantasy leagues, and paint their faces to show their team pride. They can spout off trivia facts and engage in passionate “discussions” as to the success and failures of their hometown teams.
A similar group of individuals exist in the entertainment industry. We can list off random facts about our favorite actor, actress, writer or director. We write letters of support or complaint to media outlets and/or the particular interested parties. And like our athletic counterparts, we have in-depth “discussions” about our favorite moments. Or more precise…we disagree about which character should be romantically paired with another.
We look forward to our favorite TV shows as much as a football fan readies for Sunday night. While our sporting counterparts gather with friends and family to drink beer, eat wings, and scream at the referees, we take to the internet to re-hash the positives and negatives of the prior night’s episode.
We watch the special features to learn about the casting process, the set design choices, and the adaptation from book/stage to screen. We read interviews from the screenwriter to gain insight into the finished work he/she created. We stand at the stage door after a theatrical performance just to get a picture, signature or to manage an “I loved it!” We find inspiration and motivation from those who’ve chosen the entertainment industry as their mode of creative expression.
While some of us may yearn to one day play a role in front of or behind the camera, there are just as many who merely want to show their appreciation for a job well done. Who want to say “Thank You” for creating something that made a difference in their lives. For giving us an opportunity to look at our life from a different point of view. To pause and reflect upon the choices we’ve made and to perhaps reconsider a path we were headed towards.
So while my friends and family may plan for the big play-off party I’ll be waiting with excitement for the upcoming entertainment award show season. May the best team win!