Review: Come From Away

The day after my birthday in April, my parents and I celebrated by seeing the matinee of the new, immensely popular Broadway musical, Come From Away, with book, music, and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. I’d been watching this piece come to life through a friend’s Instagram posts and I thought it looked cute, but I wasn’t really dying to see it. But once my parents heard about it and it’s popularity spiked just before their opening night, I finally stopped finding reasons to not get around to see it and I’m certainly glad I did.

A lot of the music sounds very Once-esque, which I was immediately annoyed by (despite being a big fan of Once because that is music for Once and not this, etc. etc.) but I warmed up to this folksy music as well as the rest of the score over the next 100 minutes. (Yes, it’s 100 minutes, no intermission. #best)

I’m pretty resistant to anything and everything that co-ops 9/11 which is probably responsible for some of my resistance to sit down in the Schoenfeld, but Come From Away doesn’t do that. They barely mention what happened and they never say “9/11” explicitly. It’s purely about humanity and this tiny town in Newfoundland named Gander and how it’s citizens come together to host these ~7,000 strangers who are stranded there for a week-ish) by this catastrophic event.

The cast is amazing – filled with some of my favorites from my teenage years as a Renthead, among others – Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kassebaum, Chad Kimball, Jenn Colella, etc. The cast uses very subtle costume adjustments to change characters in an instant when they flip-flop between planes (people were trapped on the plans for 28 hours!). I’m pretty sure this is no easy feat and I’d 100% screw up what character I was when if I had to do that.

My favorite subplot line was the one about the SPCA director in Gander, Bonnie Harris (played by Petrina Bromley) and how she basically forces her way into the cargo holds on the planes because she has the foresight to suspect that there are animals onboard and they need to be taken care of (#squee!). She’s right. There were 19 animals on all the planes – something like 7 cats, 9 dogs, and one pair of rare Bonobo monkeys, among others, all of whom she takes care of while they’re there. This obviously warmed my heart. She deserves a medal.

There are many other touching and tear-jerking story lines which I won’t give away, but you should get yourself to the Schoenfeld and see this heartwarming little show as soon as you can (if you can, because tickets are selling out at each performance).

The 74th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Today, April 19th, is the anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising during World War II. There is a fantastic museum in Warsaw dedicated to this uprising and it’s a Must See if you’re in Warsaw. I found out yesterday that there’s a memorial to this uprising in Riverside Park at 83rd Street. I’m going to go pay my respects before work. If you feel like watching The Zookeeper’s Wife or The Pianist. There’s a movie about the Jewish Uprising but I can’t remember the name (comment if you remember it! It’s the street address of the secret meeting place!) Here are a few photos from the museum.

The original mermaid that stood in the Old Town before the Germans bombed them as punishment for the uprising.

They used the sewers to get around and deliver messages and weapons. This is what you’d see under a safe exit.

The symbol of the uprising.

The flags of the uprising.

And around the city you’ll see several monuments dedicated to those who fought:

The Littler Uprising Monument – dedicated to all the children who helped sneak past guards with messages and weapons. 

The Warsaw Uprising Monument

Groundhog Day, in Previews

And Rewind.

Last weekend I won the digital lottery for the new Broadway musical, Groundhog Day, and J and I went. He liked most of what he’d seen of the movie and I wanted him to see Andy Karl onstage since we’d watched him on Law & Order semi-recently. This is a transfer from London and they know how to make a pretty good musical, so my expectations were decent.

The music is catchy and the lyrics are feisty in a way that only Tim Minchin can be and I enjoyed the first 15 minutes. Then the day restarted and I suddenly, “Oh my god, is this the entire musical? How does it ever proceed forward from this one day? What have I gotten myself in to?!”

To be clear: I’ve never seen the movie before and I only knew vaguely what the premise was. This was my fault completely.

BUT. They do a fantastic job of rewinding the day each time and it doesn’t feel monotonous at all. The set worked perfectly (no first preview difficulties luckily) and it really keeps the show moving along. Without those turntables, the show would be 4 hours long. A couple of the songs get dark a darkly comedic way, and a couple of the songs could be completely cut (the first song of the second act, for starters).

Andy Karl plays this role perfectly. We feel his angst at his situation which eventually turns to morbid joy, which turns out to be hilarious. Barrett Doss, his costar, is lovely, too. I think Raymond Lee, as one of the town yokles at the bar, was the only other cast member to really stand out. He’s hilarious.

It was about 2 hours and 45 minutes long, which is long, but it never dragged. Like I said, they do a really good job at keeping the pace pretty consistent. We both walked out of the theatre having really enjoyed ourselves.

It was definitely not a wasted night at the theatre and I wouldn’t have been too sad to have been forced to relive it at least one more time.

Significant Other

Despite my better judgment, I went to see Significant Other, the new play by Joshua Harmon that recently transferred to Broadway from Roundabout, this past Sunday with my significant other, my best guy friend, and his significant other. I saw this shortly after I met J in 2015 while it was off-Broadway and it hit me hard in the emotions. I walked out of the Laura Pels thinking Gideon’s character surely killed himself after the lights went down. And to be honest, I kind of wanted to kill myself after the lights went down on Sunday afternoon, regardless of my relationship status. My friends concurred.

I want to start by saying that Gideon Glick is brilliant as the protagonist Jordan, a late twenty-somethings city-dweller. He gives a flawless performance of an extremely flawed character. He has genius comedic timing and I was exhausted watching him exert himself onstage for two and a half hours(ish). I would watch this guy read the phone book because he could make it entertaining. He has monologues that are pages long but he makes it look effortless.

Sas Goldman, who plays the first bride of the night Kiki, reminded me in a weird way of Tracee Chimo in Bachelorette. But in a totally good, weird way. Lindsay Mendez plays a wonderful best friend to Jordan, Laura, who gets caught up in wedding madness when she finally gets engaged. She was able to be strong even when hurt by Jordan’s page and a half tirade on the evening of her bachelorette party. And, last but not least, Rebecca Naomi Jones is the hilariously dark Vanessa who gives no fucks about anything until the day of her wedding.

The men in this show are not at all the focus. Hence why two actors play all six male characters (in addition to Jordan). John Behlman and Luke Smith both do a lovely job playing the various boyfriends and husbands and coworkers of the four main characters.

Because of its incredibly depressing tone, and it’s suicide-inducing ending, I’m not sure it’ll find it’s audience on Broadway, but I know that a lot (most) people could probably relate to Jordan’s feeling of being alone and feeling hopeless. There are lots of parts to make you laugh, and many to also make you feel all the feels. Like any good play should.

How five fallen Broadway theaters paved the way for a new Times Square

This is interesting AF. If you’re into NYC or Broadway history, read it.

It goes without saying that I can’t remember a time when the Marriott Hotel wasn’t dead center in the middle of Times Square. This is obviously the case as it was finished in 1985 and I was born in 1986. However, the thing is, I never even thought about a time when it might not have existed. When other buildings would have been in it’s place. Is that crazy? Sort of. I mean, why would I just assume?

I also never thought about the possibility that the city, or landlords more specifically, could fathom tearing down a Broadway theatre. I mean, WHAT? You say you want to do WHAT? I knew Times Square was a shit hole before the mid-90′s, but I never figured Broadway houses were endangered species of the time. 

I know New Yorkers are required to hate this hotel because it’s in Times Square and is thus the enemy, but the Marriott was an escape off the cold city streets when I was a teenager and needed a place to eat my Cosi takeaway sandwich in between the Rent lottery and showtime. I went there after my 21st birthday party and the waitress refused to serve my slightly-under-21-year-old friends. I also spent more than my fair share of time at the Marquis Theatre selling merchandise at various shows. 

But I can’t help but be sad about the loss of these five theatres. Who knows what we’d have playing there. 

How five fallen Broadway theaters paved the way for a new Times Square

Green Day @ Barclays, 3.15.17

I’ve seen Green Day a handful of times now. I don’t know how many; I don’t keep track. But I do know that music brings people together and anytime Matt and I are brought together for Green Day, it’s a good time. I failed to secure GA tickets when the presale came out months ago and we debated what or how to get seats for the past several months. 

Well, it came down to game time this year. Or, I guess you could say, it came down to Fuck Time. We bought seats in the nose bleeds on StubHub four hours before and we thought, well, it’s Green Day and our seats for PNC in Holmdel, NJ in 2010 sucked, too, but it’ll still be awesome to be in the room. When we arrived at our seats, which were basically on the right side of the stage against the wall, Matt and his girlfriend sat down and I went to ‘use the bathroom,’ aka scope out new seat as I’ve never been one to accept the shitty seats I’ve been dealt, even if they were the ones I bought. Nobody puts baby in the nosebleeds.

I found an area, still on the second level, but lower than where we were, directly across from the stage, that was inhabited by a railing, three or four high top tables and a few folding chairs, with a few people milling about. I scoped out the area, leaning against the railing, seeing if anyone would tell me move, and after 3 minutes, I rallied to the troops to relocate. The view was much better and we were all more than happy to sit (or lean) for the duration of the concert. Photos and more thoughts after the jump. 

Against Me opened and they were great, but we didn’t really pay attention to them. The setlist was the standard setlist that they’ve been playing on this arm of the tour and it included King For a Day, which although it’s a song all of us would like them to stop playing for the rest of time, I couldn’t help but sing along. Matt and I performed as much of the American Idiot choreography as we could. Some dude rocked out during Longview and BJA asked him after, ”are you trying to take my damn job?” BJA asked after, and I’m pretty sure the fan Billie Joe pulled up onstage to sing Know Your Enemy didn’t actually know the lyrics. 

I have a newly found respect for a couple of the songs from Revolution Radio that they played, mostly Youngblood and Forever Now

Billie Joe, a master in the art of subtlety let out an exasperated, “Fuck you, Donald Trump!” at the end of Letterbomb

St. Jimmy was out of this world energized. Always a favorite of mine to see performed. 

We watched on in horror, and also laughing, at the two kids who were sitting in folding chairs covering their ears and sulking while they’re parents (probably mid-to-late 30 something’s) danced and embarrassed the hell out of them.

The GA area was outrageously small and had no energy in it whatsoever. The three of us plus another couple who were probably of a similar age had more energy than all of the kids on the ground. I’ll just say this: There were far too many seats on the floor and the first rule of Green Day is: you don’t sit at Green Day

The energy was high for the first encore which included American Idiot followed by the sensible 7-minute Jesus of Suburbia

Lastly, I’m glad they’ve gone back to ending with Good Riddance. It’s just not the same when they don’t. 

i have a thousand other thoughts but they’d make no sense and this “review” is pretty consciousness as it is. Green Day concerts, regardless of where you’re sitting, are always a good time and should always be attended when possible. They bring people together and get people off their news feeds, even if only for two-and-a-half hours. The backdrops, pyro, and lighting were fucking awesome, too. Snaps for whoever designed the tour. Last, but not least, here are a few photos:

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So much pyro onstage!

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Tiny GA section. 

Cat Camp = Best of Times

I went to Cat Camp on Sunday to check it out, buy some stuff for my cats (er, me), and see Jackson Galaxy’s keynote. Little did I know that about 15 minutes after I arrived, Jackson Galaxy himself came out to his foundation’s table to sign pictures and take photos with people. 

When it was my turn, I thanked him for all he does and shook his hand, took a photo, and then asked him as briefly as I could what I should do about getting Ares and Playbill to get along – since Playbill had started to treat Ares like prey. He asked a few additional questions and then told me that they’re not ready to be in the same room yet and to keep feeding them on opposite sides of the gate until they can eat and ignore each other. I shook his hand and left, elated, since I had no idea I’d even have the opportunity to talk to him.

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So cool. He was the nicest. 

I bought lots of toys for the furmonsters, donated some money to various organizations, purchased some cat wine from Apollo Peak, and bought a tank top with a meditating cat on it that says, “Meowwwwwwwm” with the literal Sanskrit translation of it below made by Squirrel Den Studio. (I mean, I obviously had to buy this t-shirt.) I also saw a talk with Lil Bub and her dude. To be honest, I’m not really familiar with Lil Bub, but I know more now, and she’s the most chill little cat ever, not to mention adorable. The Kitten Lady was there, too! But I also learned about some amazing stuff going on in the cat community that I wanted to share:

Littleman_Mika: A kitty who was born with a cleft palette. Her human is raising awareness for special needs cats.

The Cat Rescuers: A documentary about volunteers who TNR in Brooklyn. Look for it in 2018!

Kitty in NY: In-home cat caregivers! If you’re moving, or renovating, or need to travel, this is an organization that will come to your apartment and take care of your kitty. Awesome idea, since most cats don’t travel as well as Lil Bub!

Catnip Nation: Another documentary in the making, this one is about how cat videos have taken over the internet. Cosign that. 

My Cat Kyle: A big black and white kitty named Kyle sat in a harness on the table for this organization. Kyle was a kitty who once witnessed a murder in his home, so this organization is about the pets that get forgotten in the midst of domestic violence and how to help save them. 

Only Maine Coons Rescue: A 9-month old Maine Coon say on the table of this organization and she was BIG. She was bigger than Playbill and this Maine Coon was only a kitten! You can obviously decipher what this organization does. 

The Paw Project: This is an organization that was collecting signatures in an effort to get New York State to outlaw declawing. I gave them whatever money I had on me. 

Polydactyl Cats: This is an awesome cat toy company that make toys for cats that “think outside the mouse.” I bought soy sauce and duck sauce packet catnip toys for my cats. LOVE this company. Their toys are amazing

Square Paws: This is an awesome cat furniture company. They’re currently working on making NYC apartment-sized cat furniture which is great because all of their stuff is way too big for anyone’s apartment. 

The Dancing Cat: This is “art for the moderately crazy cat lover.” They’re really fun photos and I would’ve bought one but I couldn’t find a tuxedo or brown tabby cat photo!

There were many others which you should totally check out on Cat Camp’s website. This was an awesome day and I can’t wait for next year!

Lil Bub and her dude.

Lil Bub!

The 9-month old Maine Coon kitten!

Jackson Galaxy’s key note!

playbill:

My Fair Lady Will Return to Broadway in 2018

My first response to this: Must we REALLY? Then I thought about it for a minute, and I’m all, OK, fine. This hasn’t been on Broadway in a few decades and it is a very Lincoln Center-esque show to produce. To say this show is old fashioned is an understatement (IMHO). 

I read through the script the summer after my senior year of high school. We were going to do it at a theatre that I’d performed at the two summers prior and when the production didn’t come to fruition, I was relieved. I wasn’t a fan of the music and I’d rather watch Pygmalion > My Fair Lady any day of the week. Did I mention that it’s long? Yes, it’s long. It’s your average two and a half hour (forty five minutes?) musicals and that’s way too long for this.

I’m interested to see who they cast but I doubt I’ll be seeing it (unless it’s for free) because there are many other things more worthwhile for me to be doing with my time (like sleeping, for example). 

My parents and I are going to Philly on Saturday to see my best friend, who is currently recovering from chemo, and her parents. My mom called me today and said she was shopping in Marshall’s and going to buy some really tasty, fattening snacks because the bff has no appetite and is losing weight. She was running a bunch of stuff by me: Swedish fish, M&M’s, chocolate covered something-or-others.

Then I blurted out to nope, forget it all. I know she was coming from a good place but I told her that I was going to go to Trader Joe’s to get some not-as-mass-produced and not as unhealthy snacks because thinking about feeding my chemo-recovering bff processed sugar and garbage makes MY insides hurt and if it makes me hurt, it’s probably not going to be much better for her health either. 

So, while some of this may not be the height of health, it HAS to be better than the discount candy that sits on the shelves at TJ Maxx for months on end, right? I’m going to tell myself it is. 

My haul above included: sweet potato tortilla chips, chocolate covered pomegranate seeds, chocolate covered almonds, dried mango slices, fruit juice gummy penguins, candied walnuts, whoopi pies, and cowboy bark (which is chocolate and pretzels, etc). 

Yes, this is indeed better than Marshall’s selection. 

Tumblr, meet Ares.

Two weeks ago, Justin and I went to Koneko Cat Cafe on the LES to meet a cat named Sammy who seemed like he’d be an awesome fit for Playbill. He’d been at the cafe the longest, and I felt bad for him because he was (is) super adorable. We arrived to hear that an application for him had just been approved but we were hurried in nevertheless and introduced to a four-and-a-half-year-old Tabby named Ares. We fell in love as he licked the dried tuna treats off our fingers and stared at us with his permanently grumpy face and said OK. I filled out an application and we picked him up from the UWS Petco last Sunday.

I didn’t know how hard it would be to integrate him into my apartment with Playbill, but it’s been a process. We were told to let her smell him in his carrier when we got home and we did. And she hissed so we rushed him into the bedroom, let him out of the carrier, and he immediately fell asleep on my bed.

Playbill’s area of the apartment has always been the living room, so he obviously gets the bedroom. He has his own food bowls, cat tree, and litter box in there. Justin stayed over most of the week to keep him company in the bedroom while I slept out on the couch with Playbill, so she’d know I was still here and she wasn’t alone, or being replaced. 

We bought a baby gate this weekend and that’s been helping. I try to feed them both at the same time on opposite sides of the gate and I always close the door when I leave the apartment. I have a (clean) sock that I will occasionally rub on Ares and then give to Playbill to smell. Oh, and I’m also using Jackson Galaxy’s ‘Stress Stopper’ serum. 

Playbill is still stressed, but Ares is a big loaf. He came from the cat cafe where he dealt with other cats all the time so he is not phased by her very occasional hissing. He will literally fall over and sleep anywhere (okay, mostly the bed right now). We might rename him Loaf, but his grumpy face just says ‘God of War,’ right?

So, it’s an ongoing process. If you have any stories to share, I’d LOVE to hear them! 

PS: If you’re looking for a cat, Sammy’s application sadly fell through and he’s still available for adoption through Anjellicle Cats! He was a sweet and active little kitty.