NYC Trip: Days 4 & 5

Welcome to the third and final installment of my NYC/BroadwayCon trip recap! If you missed parts one and two you can find them here and here.

Sunday
Sunday was the final day of BroadwayCon. Sarah and I decided to sleep in a little bit after our late night out, and mixed up our breakfast routine by hitting a little deli for some egg sandwiches to go. I kind of wish we’d gone there every day instead of Pret a Manger, as it was cheap, fast, and delicious! We made it to the Javits Center by 10 am for my photo session with Jenn Colella. Those of you follow me on Instagram probably already saw my hilarious “photo essay” of being completely starstruck, so instead, here’s the nice professional photo we took together:

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While I was busy at my photo session, Sarah went to a panel celebrating Ahrens & Flaherty musicals, and when I was done I slipped into Stage Door Stories with Broadwaysted and Friends. The hosts of Broadwasted spoke with Hayley Podschun (Hello, Dolly), Alex Silber (Fiddler on the Roof), and James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin, Hamilton) about fun/interesting/weird stuff that has happened to them at the stage door. It was fun and also ended up being a bit thoughtful too, which was nice. I snuck out a few minutes early to line up for my Stephanie J Block photo session. She was totally gracious and lovely and I’m just a tiny bit obsessed with her. I love, love, love this photo!

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When I was finished, I joined Sarah at the Mainstage for the Come From Away show spotlight, as we’d be seeing the show later that afternoon. It was great to hear the cast and creative team talk about the show and made us super excited to see it.

Since the programming for the rest of the afternoon didn’t look terribly interesting, we decided to head out in search of lunch before the 3pm show of Come From Away. Since Shake Shack is such a luxury, we went again! Their fries are just so damn good, people! And my pregnant self was loving their milkshakes.

We had a bit of time to kill so we stopped in at the Disney store in Times Square, where Sarah bought some gifts for her nephews, and I somehow restrained myself from buying every single Little Mermaid-themed item in the store for my unborn daughter. We also grabbed some tissues because we knew Come From Away was a tear-jerker.

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From the moment the show started, I was enthralled. It was a beautiful story, imaginatively and sparsely staged; just actors, some chairs, and some tables. The music was incredible and I definitely cried several times. And I wasn’t the only one. I can’t recommend the show highly enough, particularly while most of the original cast, including Jenn Colella, is still in it!

After the show we were emotionally drained, and headed back to our hotel to regroup. We had left Sunday evening open to possibly go out to a nice dinner, or see another show. Or just nap if we were too tired, as we didn’t know how I’d be feeling as an 18 weeks pregnant lady. Ultimately, we decided to grab some last-minute tickets to Kinky Boots, since the tickets were cheap and the theatre was literally around the corner from the hotel.

Before the show, we treated ourselves to Coldstone Creamery for dinner. I had been craving ice cream all weekend, and Coldstone is another thing that we can’t get up in Vermont, so I was in heaven with some cake batter ice cream, sprinkles, and Heath Bar.

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While Kinky Boots was a lot of fun (who doesn’t love to watch 6 foot tall glamazon drag queens kick higher than their heads while wearing stilettos?), I was pretty underwhelmed by the music. The story was wonderful, and the spectacle was great, but it was my least favorite show we saw for sure. I kind of wish we’d gone out for dinner instead, but oh well!

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Finally, it was time to hit the hay. We were both exhausted after having been on the go all weekend and not sleeping very well in our tiny, hot, loud hotel room, and we had a long day of travel ahead on Monday.

Monday
Our train was due to leave Penn Station around 11:20, and while we had originally planned to be super touristy and go to Ellen’s Stardust Diner for breakfast, we opted not to. Ellen’s was in the exact opposite direction of Penn Station, and we didn’t feel like walking or paying for a cab, so we just hoofed it the 10 blocks to the station and grabbed some deli sandwiches and coffee.

Our train left almost exactly on time, and was once again pretty sparsely populated, so we passed another day in the Wi-Fi enabled lap of luxury. It was a long day and I wasn’t really able to nap at all, but I was intensely grateful to have room to stretch out nonetheless.

We arrived at Essex station at about 8:30 pm, and Ben was there waiting to pick me up. I gave Sarah a big hug goodbye, and thus ended my NYC trip. It was an incredible, fun, exhausting experience, and I’m so, so glad I went. I knew when I booked the trip that I might be pregnant, and it might be my “last hoorah” before becoming a mother, and it was indeed just that.

 

NYC Trip: Day 3

Welcome to part 2 of my BroadwayCon trip recap! If you missed part one, find it here.

Saturday
We were up and at ’em early once again Saturday morning for day 2 of BroadwayCon festivities. After grabbing our quickie Pret a Manger breakfasts, we walked to the Javits Center so Sarah could make her 10 am autograph appointment with Anthony Rapp of RENT fame. He’s also the co-founder of BroadwayCon, which I didn’t know at the time!

While Sarah was doing her thing, I decided to just wander the Marketplace a bit and relax, as there weren’t any panels during the 10 am time slot that interested me. When Sarah was done, we headed over to the Mainstage area for the Dear Evan Hansen show spotlight. The panel was made up of Steven Levenson, the book writer, Noah Galvin, and Taylor Trensch, who respectively were just finishing up and just coming into the role of Evan. It was interesting to hear more about the show, but I found Noah Galvin to just be really off-putting for some reason. Oh well.

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We once again grabbed a quick lunch in the cafeteria and then headed to Playing Theatre History. This was such a great, nerdy panel. The panelists were all women, and there were so many excellent topics of discussion I can’t remember them all. My favorite part, though, was one of the panelists relating a story about how she went in for an audition, and she was so nervous, but right before it was her turn, the casting director came out and said they’d cast the part and wouldn’t be seeing anymore auditioners. Suddenly, she was furious that she had spent all this time preparing and hadn’t been able to audition, and she said that completely flipped the audition narrative for her. Rather than being nervous, from that day on, her attitude was that those 10 minutes were HERS, and the casting directors damn well better listen up and pay attention to her. It was just such a refreshing take on something that can be so emotionally fraught.

At 2, we headed back to the Mainstage for Theater People Live Featuring Laura Benanti. Theater People is one of my very favorite podcasts, and the host is just such a delightful gay theatre fanboy it’s so much fun! Laura Benanti is unbelievably funny–she has a super quick wit. She’s also a social justice warrior who isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind, and a badass working mom. The hour flew by and was a total blast.

We decided to continue the podcast love and went to the Broadwaysted Live show featuring Sierra Boggess. Broadwaysted is my other favorite podcast. It’s similar in nature to Theater People in that they interview Broadway folks, but they do it while drinking and playing drinking games. Too much fun!

Our last two stops of the day were the Mainstage Singalong, which was pretty short but absolutely adorable, and The Band’s Visit show spotlight. Neither Sarah nor I knew anything about The Band’s visit, but the short clips of music we heard, plus the lovely interviews with the cast, made us both want to know more. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to score tickets while we were in the city, but it’s on my list of cast recordings to purchase soon.

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Singalong!

At this point we were starving, so we set off in search of dinner. We ended up at Beer Authority, a pub about halfway between the Javits Center and our hotel room. I was feeling some pregnant lady eating guilt (so much processed/fast food happened!), so I had a big fat chicken Caesar salad… AND a side of fries. #balance

Food coma in full force, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for a few hours. We were meeting some other VT friends for a midnight show at the Comedy Cellar, so quiet time was in order. We left our room at about 10:30 to meet Megan, Ian, Sean, Faith, Don, and Serena at the hotel bar where Megan and Ian were staying. After a round of drinks and chats, we hopped on the subway for a quick ride.

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The Comedy Cellar is just that: a basement where there are comedy shows. It’s apparently the place where Jerry Seinfeld and lots of other famous comedians have started out. They have an incredibly strict no photos policy (if they catch you taking photos during a show they throw your entire table out!), so I didn’t take any pictures, but the show was fantastic. As always, the night was heavy on male comics, but it was still well worth the trip. And I was proud that I was able to drag my pregnant behind out for some late-night city fun! We shared a cab with Ian and Megan since their hotel was just down the block from us, and we made it into bed just before 3 am. Oof!

And that concludes part 2 of the NYC trip recap. I had hoped to cram Saturday and Sunday into one post, but this has already gotten a little long, so stay tuned for the final installment soon!

 

NYC Trip Days 1 & 2

I know, I know, this is LONG overdue, but as you know, I’ve been super busy with moving and house projects, so I’m just now getting around to this. Enjoy!

Thursday
Ben and I were lucky enough to snag a ride to our various ports from a family friend. They dropped me off at the Essex Junction train station right at 9 am, then continued on into Burlington to drop Ben at the airport.

The train arrived promptly at 9:45 and we were off! The Amtrak Vermonter goes from St. Albans, VT all the way down to Washington, DC. It makes LOTS of stops along the way and doesn’t travel very fast, so it’s about a 9 hour ride to New York. While this sounds like a lot, driving to NYC would take at least 6 hours, we’d have to pay for parking, and contend with city traffic, so really, it’s not bad. Plus, the train is Wi-Fi enabled, there are power outlets at every seat, and there’s a snack car. Not to mention, the seats are huge, with plenty of leg room. AND, Sarah and I each had two seats to ourselves for the majority of the trip. So basically, we were riding in style and comfort.

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Along the way, we chatted, ate snacks, napped, read, and otherwise passed a leisurely day watching the scenery go by. We arrived at Penn Station around 6:30 and walked the 10 or so blocks to our hotel. We stayed at City Rooms – Times Square. In a nutshell, it’s about a step above a hostel. Super cheap, zero amenities, small rooms, no elevator. And our room was on the 5th floor. I don’t know that I’d stay there again, but it worked for this trip. At least the location was convenient!

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On one of the landings at the hotel.

After checking in and dumping our stuff, we walked over to Shake Shack for some dinner. We don’t have Shake Shacks in Vermont, so this was a treat! We were both pretty tired, so we just headed back to our room to read for a while, and went to bed early.

Friday
This was the official first day of BroadwayCon. Sarah and I got up around 7 am to get ready and head out to find breakfast. We ended up eating breakfast at Pret a Manger pretty much every morning because it was on our way to the convention center, and offered halfway decent hot breakfast options on a budget.

The Javits Center was about a mile and a half from our hotel, and we walked there and back pretty much every day (we ended up taking a cab on Sunday afternoon, and only because it was rainy and we were exhausted).

Sarah and I had purchased Gold level passes for the weekend, which got us a few perks like a swag bag (not really that swag-y), early entry to the Marketplace (souvenirs galore!), and a few other things. Unfortunately, they were having internet issues and didn’t start letting Gold passes inside until almost 9:30, which was, frankly, annoying, but what can you do?

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After wandering the Marketplace for a bit and making a few purchases, we made our way to our first panel of the day, Thank You, Five! The Stage Management Panel. I’ve only ever been an assistant stage manager, but Sarah has done some stage management, and it was actually quite interesting.

Our 11 am panel was The American Theatre Wing: 100 Years, 100 Voices, 100 Million Miracles. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into this panel, but it was great. I learned a lot about the history of the American Theatre Wing. For instance, I didn’t realize it was originally a branch of the armed forces, or that it was founded by women. It was also an integrated organization during a time when integration was still pretty new and scandalous. They passed around some old, original Tony Awards, which used to be money clips for men and makeup compacts for women, and I got to hold an ACTUAL Tony award, which was beyond cool.

We took a quick break for lunch at the Javits Center food court (typical food court fare), and headed to our 1 pm panel, The Secrets of Broadway’s St. James Theatre. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a great panel. It featured Jordan Roth, whose family owns and manages five different Broadway theatres, including the St. James, and I found him to be a bit pretentious. He also talked a lot about improvements that were being made to the theatre, rather than the theatre’s history and “secrets” as one might have expected from the title of the panel. They also showed a slideshow of photos from the theatre’s past, but the screen was tiny, on the other side of the room, and the photos moved so quickly I basically couldn’t see anything.

Afterwards, Sarah and I split up, as it was time for my photograph session with the incomparable Donna Murphy. Those of you who aren’t Broadway fans might recognize her as the voice of Mother Goethel in Disney’s Tangled. At any rate, she was lovely and gracious and told me I looked beautiful, and I was basically tongue-tied after that.

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At 3, Sarah and I met up for Everybody Say Yeah!: Kinky Boots After 2,000 Performances. I was particularly interested in this panel because one of the panelists, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, who is an original company member, is an acquaintance of mine. We did summer stock together a loooooong time ago, and I was hoping to say hello. The panel ended up being an absolute blast. The cast members featured had tons of hilarious stories about auditions and ridiculous stuff that has happened over the course of the past five years on Broadway. And after the panel, I was able to hug Kevin and tell him how happy and proud I was of everything he’s done since we met. It was lovely to see him! I just wish we’d gotten a photo together.

It was time to line up for the BroadwayCon 2018 Opening Ceremonies on the Mainstage, and this was the only real low point of the day. As Gold pass holders, we were supposed to have guaranteed seating at all Mainstage events. I had assumed that this would mean there would be a separate line for Gold pass holders, and we would be seated first, or at the very least, there would be a section of seats reserved for Gold passes. This was unfortunately not the case. EVERYONE was lined up together, and the lines were completely disorganized. A chunk of lines here, a chunk of lines there, with no clearly defined beginning or end. It was pretty chaotic, and people were understandably confused and upset. Thankfully, we did manage to get inside, but we had pretty crappy seats, way over to the right and relatively far back.

The opening ceremonies themselves ended up being pretty awesome. Billy Porter came out and sang a song that I’m ashamed I didn’t know. Betsy Wolfe sang Meadowlark, which immediately made me cry, and Kelli O’Hara sang Pure Imagination. It was quick and lovely.

Immediately following was the In the Heights 10 Year Reunion Panel, with most of the original cast of In the Heights, including Lin Manuel Miranda himself, which was beyond amazing. He’s just obviously such a nerd and so happy to be doing what he loves. At one point when they were discussing songs that had been cut from the show, he jumped up and ran to the piano onstage to start playing one of the songs while the cast sang along. It was so fun!

After that, we were done with BroadwayCon for the day, and headed off to find some food. We ended up at Donoghue’s Irish Pub, since it was close to both our hotel and the theatre where we would be seeing a show at 8. Sarah and I split an appetizer sampler tray and some curry fries, then headed over to the theatre. Hello, Dolly! was excellent. Amazing costumes and gorgeous technical elements, and BERNADETTE FREAKING PETERS as Dolly. Oh, not to mention Victor Garber, Gavin Creel, and Kate Baldwin. *sigh* After the show, we headed back to our room and crashed, exhausted from a full day of Broadway awesomeness.

Stay tuned for part two of my trip recap, hopefully coming soon!

A Quick Check-In Post SF

Hi friends! I’m home! And it’s been a doozy of a first day back already. I had my annual wellness exam (always extra fun for the ladies), and almost ran out of gas on my way to work. And now I’m in the throes of my busiest two weeks of the quarter so I will be flat our at work the next few days.

I’ll get a trip recap post up eventually, but for now I’ll just say I had an AMAZING time, did all the things, ate all the food, and I wish I could have stayed another week.

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Eleuthera Vacation in (Mostly) Pictures

This recap is going to be pretty loosey-goosey. The days sort of ran together as they tend to do on vacation, so rather than trying to construct a narrative of the week, I’ll just share some of my favorite pictures, facts, and memories.

Fact: In the Bahamas, open containers are totally legal, even in a motor vehicle. After arriving at North Eleuthera airport on Monday, we got beers at the bar across the road from the airport, and drank them in the back of the truck on our way back to Amy and Harry’s house.

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Amy and Harry live on the very northern edge of the island, with a small beach literally in their backyard, and the “big beach” a whopping five minute walk away.

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Big beach

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Little beach (and Ben)

 There’s LOTS of wildlife on the island, including but not limited to, birds, snakes, scorpions, and all kinds of lizards. I can’t lie, I became somewhat obsessed with lizard-spotting, and I would say a good 25% of my photos from this trip are of lizards.

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This little lizard lives behind a painting in the kitchen and comes out at night to say hi

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Giant hermit crab

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Stripey lizard

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Blue-tailed lizard

We spent a lot of time outdoors, walking, snorkeling, and helping Harry with yard work.

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We had a dinner party, and visited Preacher’s Cave and Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve.

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And we took the mini ferry across to Harbor Island for lunch at a beach bar.

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We also drank a LOT of Kalik (delicious Bahamian beer) and rum punch. We cooked most of our meals at home. I read 7 books. I didn’t get a sunburn. We went out to a real Bahamian bar and met a lot of locals. Oh, and the no-see-ums were OUT OF CONTROL and I got so many bugbites I look like I have Chicken Pox. But other than that, it was a perfect vacation.

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken?

Observations on Air Travel

I spent a LOT of time in airports and on airplanes this past week. No matter how prepared you think you are, and no matter how many experiences you have had, there are always things that surprise you. And of course, there are always constants as well. Here are a few of my observations on air travel.

Crying babies on airplanes are literally the worst.

I know that in most cases, it’s not the baby’s fault, and it’s not the parents’ fault. Babies cry. I get it. But on our flight from Reykjavic to Copenhagen, there was a toddler seated right behind us who pitched a fit nearly the entire flight. It was one of those obvious “I’m not getting my way so I’m just gonna fake cry and scream” kind of things, and the parents didn’t do ANYTHING about it. They pretty much just let him have a hissy fit, and I wanted to murder them all.

Scoring extra leg room with the seats by the emergency exit is totally worth the responsibility of getting the doors open should the worst happen.

Ben and I are usually pretty cool under pressure, so I think that if the plane went down, we’d be able to get the door open and usher our fellow passengers to safety. Especially because our legs would be nice and limber from all that extra stretching space.

Other countries have much more civilized security procedures. 

You are not required to have a full-body x-ray or pat-down, and you don’t have to take off your shoes; just walk through a metal detector. However, if you set off the metal detector, you are 100% subject to a pat-down. I learned this the hard way when I forgot to take off my road ID 😦

Seatmates usually suck.

They snore. They invade your personal space. They smell. They want to chat when you just want to read or sleep. But sometimes, you get seated next to a 50-something Danish Dead Head on his way to San Francisco for the last ever Dead concert, and that’s pretty cool.

Airport food is expensive and crappy.

Seriously, a tiny tray of sushi in the Reykjavic airport was the equivalent of $22 USD. A smoothie was $7. Crazypants. Pack snacks and bring a water bottle to save yourself the money and disappointment.

Scoring a full length bench to sleep on is like winning the lottery.

I don’t know what it is about airports, but most of the seats have arms, which makes it impossible to stretch out for a nap between flights. But in Copenhagen, there were a multitude of benches, and we were able to get a nice 5 hour nap before exploring the city. It was excellent.

What’s your favorite part about flying? Least favorite part?