Monday, May 28, 2012

Carrying the Banner

Remember when I was in Costa Rica? I traveled there in January with a friend and his parents, and his Mom and I really hit it off. It turns out we both have a love for musicals, and since she lives in New York we decided it would be fun for me to come up sometime and we would go to a show. As you guys know, I'm not really one to just make plans in the abstract (I figure if you are going to do something, just do it), so when Peggy (the mom) got an email about advance ticket sales for the new Broadway show, Newsies, we decided just to go for it!

So last Saturday, I took the bus up to NYC for a day of music, dance, good food, and great company. First I met up with my friend Sarah and we had lunch at the famous John's Pizzeria in Midtown right off of Time's Square. Not only does it have delicious thin crust brick oven-baked pizza, but the restaurant is in a really cool old church. With stained glass windows and everything. We got there right when it opened at 11:30 and there wasn't too bad a crowd, but by the time we left the place was packed with tourists and townies alike.

John's Pizzeria--notice the stained glass window!

By that time, it was only a bit before the show so I said farewell to Sarah (at least until my next visit) and met up with Peggy outside the theater. Newsies is playing at the Nerderlander Theater, which has existed since 1921 and was where Rent opened and ran for 12 years. There was quite a crowd for the performance and the line to get in stretched around the block even before the doors opened. While we waited they sent out one of the guys in the chorus in his full Newsies regalia to sell programs--which were super cute and designed like newspapers.

Outside the Nederlander

When the doors (finally) opened, we entered the theater and realized our seats were pretty kickass--fourth row! While this was awesome because it meant we were super close for all the dancing action, it also meant we were really close to the actor who plays Davey and is apparently unable to speak emphatically without spraying spit all over the place. I seriously thought the people in the first row should have some kind of plastic sheeting like at a Gallagher show. I could. not. handle it.

Other than the waterworks from Davey, the show was excellent. It was very much an old-school musical like from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Just fun, solid singing and dancing--LOTS of dancing which is something I feel is missing from modern musicals. Oh, and there wasn't any tragedy or deaths or anything heavy like that. It was entertaining as hell, and as an added bonus, the cast was full of some of my favorite dancers from So You Think You Can Dance. There were a couple changes from the movie, but for the most part I thought they were all smart. And the new songs were catchy and non-offensive to a fan of the source material.

 Those are some limber newsies.

 After the show, Peggy and I wandered around looking for a place to have dinner that wasn't loaded with tourists, and on the way we came across the HBO shop. That particular adventure is documented on the tv blog, along with pictures of the awesome costumes that were displayed in the store. After shopping and dinner it was back to the bus (which was late OF COURSE) and the ride back home.

It's a long day to NYC and back and I end up spending 8 hours on the bus and only 8 hours in the city...and yet it's still worth it. All cliches aside, there is just something about the Big Apple that is exciting, inspiring, and makes me giddy. Maybe it's all the history...or just the huge masses of creative genius that it houses. Either way, I'm going to keep seeing it day at a time.

Fight the power, yo.

Friday, May 25, 2012

It doesn't seem like there are a lot of opportunities to strike out on your own and change your life as an adult. Sure, you can get married and have children, but you kind of need another person to make that happen. And when you're a kid, it seems like interests and dreams are in one day and out the next; when I was a kid, I was convinced I was going to be a dancer, actress, aerobics-instructor, princess. I swear to god, that was an actual goal.

But once you graduate college and lock down a career path, it becomes way more difficult to make changes. And not just for practical reasons, but for emotional ones as well. Change is hard. It's violent, scary, and chaotic. It's much easier just to stay where you are...even if where you are makes you unhappy.

Which is why I am so proud of my friend Carly who has recently made a big change in her life and has sought on a new business opportunity. She has become a Mary Kay consultant.

Now I know what you are thinking. How is selling make-up a big change? Well, for her it's going into an entirely new business, sacrificing a lot of free time on the venture, and as they say "putting yourself out there." Mark Kay doesn't sell itself, so it means Carly will be talking and selling to friends and strangers alike at parties, pampering sessions, and in even less formal settings. Basically, I respect the hell out of her for the willingness to make the change and take charge of her life. Snaps up and a big "you go girl!"

And having a friend who sells Mary Kay isn't without advantages. I get to attend a lot of the parties and get samples and tips. For example, I participated in Carly's first pampering session a few weekends ago, and the results were pleasantly surprising.

Before picture:


 After picture:

Facial features are now easily recognizable! Seriously though, if I am not wearing make-up, I am so pale that all you see are two eyes and some curly hair. The rest of my face is barely distinguishable from a white background.

So good luck, Carly! And if anyone out there is looking for some make-up or skin care items...I got your hookup.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve

When I was a kid, my Mom instilled in me a love of music through the soundtracks of classic musicals. I remember riding in the car with her and listening to cassettes of various shows as we both sang along, me taking the soprano parts and her the alto. Cats, The Mikado, The Music Man, and 1776 were among my favorites. Of course, looking back now I feel sorry for my brother, who was trapped in a car with the two of us constantly singing...but that's what happens when you are the only dude in a family of ladies.

The point of this reminiscing is that I was very excited when a friend sent me an email asking if I was interested in seeing a production of 1776 at Ford's Theater. For those who are unfamiliar, 1776 is a musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Continental Congress. The main character, future President John Adams, wheels and deals and by force of will alone manages to convince Congress to declare themselves independent from England. Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson are also along for the ride.

I don't think I can understate the importance the movie version of 1776 had on me as a kid. And yes, I realize confessing that makes me a GIANT NERD, but hey y'all already knew that. Basically, the movie got me interested in history and paved the way for a history major in college. And speaking of college, the whole reason I went to William and Mary was because of 1776 and the following exchange:

John Adams: Mr. Jefferson? It so happens that the word is UN-alienable, not IN-alienable. 
Thomas Jefferson: I'm sorry, Mr. Adams, but "Inalienable" is correct. 
John Adams: I happen to be a Harvard graduate, Mr. Jefferson. 
Thomas Jefferson: Well, I attended William & Mary. 

Oh, snap! Colonial style.

The point of this diatribe is that I have very strong feelings about 1776. And I am pleased to say that seeing it live was thrilling, fun, and amazing. We are very fortunate here in the DC-area to have amazing local theater companies. In fact, the only thing about the evening that wasn't perfect were the annoying 8th graders sitting in front of me and the fact that I find Ford's Theater kind of creepy.

And this is the famous Ford's theater and that box is where the greatest man in American history had his brains blown out. See? CREEPY.

If you haven't seen 1776 yet, I suggest you immediately go to Netflix and check it out. The more I learned about the actual history of the colonial era, the more I learned how weirdly accurate the movie is in terms of how all these men related to one another and were forced to compromise to lay the foundations for the country we have today.  You'll also come out of it with even more appreciation for Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and especially John Adams.

Oh, and it has Mr. Feeney (from Boy Meets World)! And Gwyneth Paltrow's Mom.


You can keep your Paul Giamatti and whatever other lame John Adams you want to throw at me. William Daniels is the one and only. Trust.