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.

 

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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!

Off to BroadwayCon and HOUSE OMG!

Eeeeeee, guys I’m so excited! It’s finally time for BroadwayCon! First thing tomorrow, my friend Sarah and I will board the Amtrak Vermonter and take a nice, leisurely, Wi-Fi enabled train ride straight to Penn Station, and thus begin a weekend of ultimate Broadway nerdiness in NYC.

I will likely be doing a recap of our trip, possibly even a day-to-day sort of thing, because I want to remember every single detail, but I don’t plan to actually post while I’m gone. If you want to follow along in our adventures, I’m sure I’ll be posting plenty on Instagram!

In other news, we are scheduled to FINALLY CLOSE ON OUR HOUSE tonight. We had our final walk-through this morning, and barring any last-minute catastrophes, we should be good to go! While we are so, so excited and relieved that the day is finally here, the timing kind of stinks. I’m off to NYC and Ben is off to a cousin’s wedding, so we won’t even be able to start working on/moving into the house until next Tuesday. Obviously, this is small potatoes in comparison with the enormity of actually officially owning a house, but as you can imagine, we’re pretty anxious to get in there and start living on our own again. We’ve been living with my in-laws for 16 months now, which is quite long enough.

Thankfully, there’s not too much to do. Ideally, we’d like to paint (the bedroom is pink, people, PINK!), and there’s some pretty horrific wood paneling with ducks and deer and stuff that needs to either be ripped off or painted over. We’d also very much like to steam clean the carpets, cause god only knows the last time they were thoroughly cleaned. Otherwise, it’s move-in ready, which is such a relief.

I’m hoping we can be fully in by the end of next weekend, but I don’t want to put too hard a timeline on it. Painting and cleaning carpets will be much easier if the house isn’t occupied, and I don’t want to put that stuff off for “later” and then not get around to it for a couple of years.

So, after closing tonight, Ben and I will be going out to dinner to celebrate, and then heading to Lowe’s or Home Depot to scope out paint colors. And then swinging by the house so we can bask in the glory of being home owners 🙂

Friday Free-For-All – 01/19/18

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Our house closing has been delayed, booooo. We sort of knew it would be a long shot to stay on schedule for closing yesterday (the seller’s lawyer is, to put it mildly, “difficult”), but we were hoping that things would work out anyway. Sadly, that was not the case, and our closing has been pushed back to next Wednesday afternoon. This is not ideal for several reasons, not the least of which is that Ben and I will both be out of town Thursday – Monday next week right after closing and therefore won’t be able to do any moving for almost a week. But I’m trying to focus on the positive, in that we ARE still scheduled to close. Which means…

it’s time to start packing. Ugh. Packing is the worst. Thankfully, most of our stuff is already packed up in our storage unit, but we do have a surprising amount of stuff spread out ALL OVER my in-law’s house. It should be quite a process collecting and packing it all. I may start in this weekend just to feel like I’m getting a jump on stuff.

Even though we didn’t close on the house, I kept my vacation day yesterday. In the morning, I had a commercial audition, went to yoga class, and ran errands. In the afternoon, my friends Krissy, Aimee and I had a shopping and coffee date. All in all, it was a delightful day, and I’m SO glad I didn’t go to work.

One week to Broadway Con! Technically, it’s less than a week until I leave, but the first day of the actual con is next Friday, and I couldn’t possibly be more excited. My friend Sarah and I are taking the Amtrak Vermonter from Essex Junction all the way to Penn station on Thursday next week, which should be an adventure. I can’t wait to see some shows and geek out about all things Broadway with a bunch of like-minded people. It also doesn’t hurt that next week is only a three-day work week, and the following week will be a four-day week. At that point I won’t have worked a full week for almost a month due to holidays and vacation days!

Do you have any vacations or trips coming up that you’re excited about?

 

Friday Free-For-All – 08/04/17

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Holy crap it’s August. I mean, seriously. I know I say this pretty much every month, but I feel like July didn’t even really happen. I’m not happy about the fact that summer is almost over already. Boooooo.

It’s the last week of shows for Dogfight. We’ve got one tonight, and one more tomorrow. This show ending is even more bittersweet than usual. Bitter because I love the music and show so much, and because this may be my last show for quite some time if we get pregnant. Sweet because the rehearsal process was so frustrating, and I’m EXHAUSTED from doing two shows in a row. I’m just trying to enjoy every last minute. On that note…

My bestie and her husband are coming to see the show tomorrow! Mandy and Vinny live in Jersey, so I only get to see them once or twice a year. They’re making the 6+ hour trek up to see Dogfight tomorrow night and I’m so excited and so grateful. I can’t wait to see them!

Ben is officially on the last leg of his whirlwind summer tour. He’s currently in Prague visiting his sister Emily, and he’ll be home for good on the 10th. And I can’t. Freaking. Wait. Of course I’m happy that he got to enjoy his summer break and have lots of adventures, but I missed him! And I’m also very excited to go get pre-approved for a mortgage and start house hunting in earnest. Whee!

I know this is really silly, but I have recently had a delightful string of celebrity interactions on Twitter and Instagram. Or, people I consider celebrities. Specifically, Broadway stars. One of my idols, Stephanie J Block, replied to my tweet about her upcoming Live from Lincoln Center performance. Caesar Samoyoa, a member of the cast of Come From Away, replied to my response to his tweet about the new immersive Star Wars experience coming to WDW. And Mamie Parris, who is playing Grizabella in Cats on Broadway, liked a comment I made on one of her Instagram photos. It’s SO INDESCRIBABLY CHEESY, I know, but I love it nonetheless.

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Happy Friday!

 

 

Friday Free-For-All – 07/21/17

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BEN COMES HOME TODAY! For like, three whole days! This will be the longest he’s been home since July 1, and I am STOKED. He’s coming to see the show tomorrow, and then we are both actually home on Sunday, so I’m hoping we can just do an “us” day and hang out and relax together.

I took yesterday off and slept for 11 hours after opening night. I needed that, so badly. I’ve been feeling exhausted and emotional lately, so getting a bit caught up on sleep was 100% necessary. I felt like a new woman after spending pretty much all day parked on my tush.

Dogfight is going surprisingly well. I was very, very nervous about opening, but so far, so good. We had decent audiences for our first two shows, and I’m hopeful that as word of mouth spreads, we’ll have bigger crowds. At least one woman told me last night that she’s coming back, and bringing friends, which is always encouraging!

I’M GOING TO BROADWAYCON!! What is BroadwayCon, you ask? Well, it’s like ComicCon, but for Broadway. I’ve wanted to go the last two years but just couldn’t swing it. Since I’m not doing Disney this year (sadface), I decided to do BwayCon instead. I’m going with my friend Sarah. We’re going to take the train down, and she found an INCREDIBLE deal on a hotel a 10 minute walk from the convention center. I sprung for the “Gold” pass, which gets me some fun perks, including three guaranteed photo/autograph sessions with Broadway stars. I can’t freaking wait!

Have you ever gone to a convention like ComicCon? Which one?