Monday, March 24, 2014

Bye Bye Bye Birdie!

Well, another musical has come and gone. I am so exhausted that I apparently can't sleep... now that my mind doesn't have the show to focus on, it has been bouncing around from topic to topic and prohibiting any ability to fall asleep.

With that said, I took the day off tomorrow; I'm getting a massage, the dog is going to the groomer, and I'm going to try to get some things done that have been pushed to the backburner for the last week or so (ie, laundry, putting things back where they belong, running some minor errands, etc.).

Anyway, since I have musicals on the brain, and I already wrote a post about my favorites, I thought I'd check out AFI's 100 Years of Musical Movies list, and break it down! (I love AFI's lists.)

1. We already know that I love Singin' in the Rain!
2. West Side Story is a great movie musical. The score was groundbreaking and the dancing is iconic. 
3. The Wizard of Oz is also an iconic movie musical (duh). But the actual musical... wow, that thing can drag on and on and on.
4. The Sound of Music was also on my list of musicals that I love : )
5. I think Cabaret is a very interesting musical... there are some good songs and a very poignant message. I almost auditioned for this one in college and chickened out at the last minute. I find the movie kind of strange, however. Liza Minelli is awesome, and so is Joel Grey, but I don't remember being glued to the screen the entire time it was on.

6. One word: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Apparently I really enjoyed watching this one on repeat for a while as a child, but I don't remember it.
7. The first one on this list I haven't seen, but I guess I will add to my Netflix - A Star is Born. Apparently this is widely regarded as Judy Garland's best performance; and the plot sounds a lot like another musical on this list, Funny Girl...
8. Anytime I think of My Fair Lady, I just think of what it might have been like with Julie Andrews - even though if she'd done MFL, she wouldn't have been Mary Poppins. MFL has many popular songs, but I think one of the most striking scenes in the movie is the Ascot Gavotte, with excellent costuming and fantastic deadpan.

9. I really enjoy Gene Kelly and I wasn't disappointed by An American in Paris when I watched it. I wasn't surprised to learn that the opening segment with Leslie Caron was considered very scandalous. Again, not a big fan of the huge ballet. I do enjoy the bit where Gene Kelly performs with the French children. : )

10. Meet Me In St. Louis was a very enjoyable movie; Judy Garland is wonderful of course, and the story is charming. It doesn't hurt that "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" are both in this show.
11. The story of The King and I is a very interesting one, and I haven't watched this movie in a while even though I own it. Maybe that will be on my list of things to do tomorrow! Love the song "Getting to Know You."
12. I DON'T KNOW HOW I FORGOT CHICAGO ON MY ORIGINAL LIST. I love this movie. I love this music. Catherine Zeta-Jones' voice is gold, Queen Latifah is fantastic, and I even found Renee Zellweger tolerable in this movie. I mean, really. Richard Gere was such a nice surprise and I never really noticed John C. Reilly before this movie. There's just so. Much. Goodness.
13. I am only vaguely familiar with 42nd Street and I've never seen the movie. I'm interested in checking in out!
14. All That Jazz is another one I haven't seen. Bob Fosse is legendary, and this is his autobiographical film.
15. Yet another movie I'm not familiar with... Top Hat stars Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, so it's sure to have some pretty awesome dancing, and it also has the song "Cheek to Cheek."
16. Finally, a break in my dry spell! I thoroughly enjoyed Funny Girl when I saw it the first time, and it made me appreciate Barbra Streisand as an actress. "Don't Rain on my Parade" is the most famous song from this movie, I think, but I really enjoy her first scene as an actress in the Ziegfeld Follies.

17, 18, and 19 - I have never seen The Band Wagon, Yankee Doodle Dandy, or On the Town. Man, my Netflix queue just got really inflated...
20. Grease is a musical I grew up with... and when I got all of the sexual innuendos when I watched it as an older teenager, I was shocked my parents ever let me watch it at all!
21. I have seen parts of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but I have never watched the entire thing. The only scene I can remember off the top of my head is the one where they are all in the snow chopping wood...
22. I think if you have ever read this blog at all you know I am a Disney enthusiast, so the fact that I have seen Beauty and the Beast enough to quote every single line should not be a surprise. It was also the first show I ever saw on Broadway!
23. Guys and Dolls was on my favorites list in my previous post... it is a great movie.
24. Show Boat - dangit, another one to add to my viewing list.
25. Moulin Rouge confused me to the millionth degree when I watched it the first time. The more times I watched, the more I understood and fell in love with Baz Luhrmann's vision. The "Elephant Love Medley" is really special to me, because before every show we did in college, the ladies of the show would all belt it out together in the dressing room before taking the stage.

And there you have it! More musical fun.
I have the sneaking suspicion that many of these songs are now going to be stuck in my head tonight... hopefully I can still fall asleep!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

On Broadway...

Happy weekend, everyone!

I know most people are celebrating St. Patrick's Day, but it's another one of those holidays that I've never really been into, not being Irish or into heavy drinking. I have been celebrating having a day off in the midst of the last few weeks- that's right folks, it's musical season. Granted, as the pit director I have much less to do than the director and music director, the set designers and stage managers... but I feel a lot of pressure in the two weeks before the show because I am in front of everyone and I have to pull everything together.

I've been really tired and not so good at thinking lately... yesterday I said to A., "I'm looking for a cushioned stool with a back on it, so that I don't have so much back pain after rehearsals. Where do you think I could find one?" His answer: "...How about the kitchen?" Duh.

Anyway, since I am in the middle of this musical, which is not my favorite - Bye Bye Birdie - I have been considering which musicals are really my favorites. I've decided to list them here, in no particular order : )

Singin' in the Rain

I have to start this list with Singin' in the Rain! When I was in high school, my mom gave me the DVDs of this musical and The Music Man for Christmas. I can't believe it took me that long to watch it. I love this movie and musical. Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor are flawless. Although, when I watch it on DVD, I always skip over the "Broadway Melody" ballet in the middle. I guess I don't get the "ballet in the middle of the musical" thing.

Jean Hagen in this musical is hysterical. "Whaddya think I am, dumb or something?" The first time I saw the ending, I laughed so hard that I cried... I loved it so much. I won't ruin it if you haven't seen it. I am going to include the video of the song "Good Mornin'" below. This song always reminds me of mornings when I was in grade school, because if we didn't get out of bed in time, my dad would walk down the hall singing this voice uncomfortably loud for that point in the morning! : )

The Producers

I have seen a very well-done locally produced version of this show. I love it and Mel Brooks. I saw the movie version twice in theaters. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick are gold together. Their first interaction in the show involves a ton of dialogue, but it's hysterical. My favorite song in this show is, by far, "Betrayed," in which the character of Max Bialystock recaps the entire show and laments getting caught while his partner, the timid Leo Bloom, makes off with the money and the girl.

Guys and Dolls

Speaking of Nathan Lane... I got to see this performed by our awesome community theatre when I was young and had no idea what was going on; and then our high school performed it when I was a junior. I was unhappy that I was cast in the Mission Band while most of my friends were Hot Box Chicks, so I defected to the pit orchestra for this show. The story is good, the music is great, the movie has Frank Sinatra. My favorite song in this musical is "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat." (Although I also enjoy the often forgotten song "My Time of Day," which has a really fun clarinet solo, and is unfortunately sung by Marlin Brando in the film.)


I got to see a tour version of this show, which was really fun. It's based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which I know is not everyone's cup of tea. I fell in love with the soundtrack in college. (This is usually how my love affair with musicals begins- I listen to the soundtrack first, on repeat, then I find the show.) I can only pretend that someday I could be the Lady of the Lake. There are so many fun songs in this show that it is difficult to pick one that I like best - "Find Your Grail" and "The Diva's Lament" are both great; so is "Not Yet Dead." But in the end I have to go with "The Song that Goes Like This." It's such a great satire of the love ballads in other musicals, and I do love some corny music puns. : ) Also, Sara Ramirez's voice... WOW.

White Christmas

I got to be in the stage musical of White Christmas a few years ago as the ditzy show girl "Rhoda," and had a fantastic time. White Christmas is a beloved holiday movie, but the musical incorporates more of Irving Berlin's great tunes and has moments both heartwarming and hysterical. My iTunes Top 25 still has "Happy Holiday/Let Yourself Go" near the top because of all the times I played it on repeat to practice our dance moves. There are plenty of nice songs in this show, but the finale of "White Christmas" is hard to beat.

The Sound of Music

This is one of the first musicals I ever loved as a kid. When I went to Europe in high school, one of our stops was in Salzburg, Austria, where one of the first things we did was invade Mirabelle Gardens and re-enact parts of the movie. 

The musical is definitely different than the movie, which is why I think so many people were confused by the live version of the show NBC broadcast last Christmas. My favorite song from the show is probably The Goodbye Song, and from the movie I love "I Have Confidence." : ) Also, one of my favorite lines from the movie is when Maria asks Gretl how she hurt her finger and she answers "It got caught... in Frederic's teeth!" CREEPY FREDERIC.


Another one of my favorites growing up... it's one of those that I watch now and think "WOW, so many grown-up references!" (Like in Grease... yikes!) I've never seen this one in person but I love the movies, both the original with Carol Burnett and the re-make with Audra MacDonald. I am also very excited for the "updated" version coming this Christmas with Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz!


I know the title of the show is kind of off-putting, but it's very very funny. I was in this show in college as "Soupy Sue," which was the first real speaking part I ever had in a show. The writers for the show were inspired when they visited Europe and encountered public toilets and port-a-johns that required payment for use (TRUE STORY, folks). It's not a very long show, but the music is good. Here is a clip from our college performance, performing my favorite, "Run Freedom Run."

Les Miserables

I go in spurts with Les Mis - I will listen and watch incessantly for months, and then take a long break. Right now I'm on break. But I do love this show and movie- I own both concert versions (the 10th and 25th anniversary editions), the movie, and I got to see the show last year (finally). My favorite song from Les Miserables is "A Little Fall of Rain."

Other musicals I enjoy...
Phantom of the Opera
Shrek: The Musical
South Pacific
Kiss Me Kate

Are you into musicals? What do you like? : )

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Puffs

Hello! Everyone turned their clocks ahead, right? I know I shouldn't feel exhausted yet, but... I'm already exhausted. It's been a busy week, a busy day, and the next couple of weeks are just going to get busier.

Today I did a bunch of cooking and baking since I won't be home much this week, so that I don't have to worry about cooking and/or baking when I am here.

I decided to share this recipe with you because it is AWESOME and these are delicious. A gave them two giant thumbs up.

Apple Cinnamon Puffs

Yields 8 puffs

You will need:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Pillsbury Grand Home Style Biscuits
1 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup chopped dates (optional - did not use)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon

1) Heat oven to 350*. Grease 8 rounds in a muffin pan.
2) In a small bowl, mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until well blended, set aside
3) In a different bowl, place sugar and cinnamon mixture, combine and set aside
4) Separate dough into eight biscuits; then split each in half and "re-round" them so you have a total of 16 circles. I also flattened mine out a bit.
5) Place 8 circles on a cutting board; spread each biscuit with 1 Tbsp cream cheese mixture to within 1/2 inch of edge.
6) Top each with 1 rounded tablespoon of the chopped apple and dates. Press remaining biscuit halves out and cover each apple-topped biscuit round; press edges to seal.
7) Dip each round in melted butter, then dip in cinnamon and sugar mixture.
8) Place in greased muffin pan.
9) Bake at 350* for 13-18 minutes or until golden brown. (I did 18 minutes and they were great)
10) Cool ten minutes, serve warm.

So, so delicious. Definitely worth a try!

Have a good week, everyone --

Monday, March 3, 2014

Oscars Recap, 2014

I stayed awake for the entire Oscars broadcast last night. I was like, "I have a two-hour delay tomorrow. It'll be fine."

Wrong. I'm exhausted!

BUT, I think it was an excellent Oscars. I wasn't really bored (or offended or uncomfortable) at all. I enjoyed the fashion, I enjoyed the hosting and presenting, and while I didn't see the vast majority of the nominated films (Frozen. I saw Frozen. That's it), I am sure the performances of the actors were worthy.

My only big disappointment of the evening was Idina Menzel's performance... you can tell she was super-nervous and potentially over-rehearsed. Her hands were shaking and she looked nauseous. Her last big note ("let the storm rage ON") was overblown and her voice went out on her, which I know from experience is a terrible feeling. You could tell that when she was done singing, she was like "Crap. Crap crap crap. Get me out of here." But she had to paste on a smile and hear that she did an awesome job. I know, I know by the look on her face that she was also unhappy with her performance. She is a veteran Broadway performer, so she's sung in front of huge audiences before. It's okay, Idina. People still love you. You're still awesome.

This expression is not a "I just had the best performance of my life" kind of face.

ANYWAY, that aside, here were some of my favorite moments of the night:

1. John Travolta absolutely, completely, and totally botching Idina's name

This probably didn't help her performance nerves at all.


...Say what???

2. Lupita Nyong'o: her dress, her brother, her acceptance speech. Just everything.

What a gracious, appreciative, beautiful woman. She is such a class act and, while I don't think I could make it through 12 Years a Slave without terrible anxiety, hysterics, and permanent nightmares (I'm not proud of that), the clips I have seen of her acting are phenomenal. I love that her enthusiastic and proud brother was her date and that he unabashedly jumped in Ellen's celebrity group selfie. The way that she began her speech was absolutely perfect: "It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance."

Also, this snippet: "Steve McQueen, you charge everything you fashion with a breath of your own spirit." Perfection. I wish I could speak that eloquently...

...and I bet John Travolta does too!

3. Speaking of that awesome Ellen group selfie...

I was one of the re-tweeters that helped make history. You're welcome.

4. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez's acceptance speech for "Let it Go."

First of all, I'm glad that "Let it Go" won the Oscar, because it is a very fantastic song. But this acceptance speech was the cutest ever. The rhyming, the singing, the succinctness- I'm in love.

(video embedded below, you might not be able to view if you're on a mobile device)

5. The entire "Ellen ordering a pizza" thing.

Some people are all worked up about the pizza thing, and how the guy didn't get his tip, and is he an actor or not?, etc. etc. But you know what, I loved the whole bit. It was random, sure, but it was fun and I'm pretty sure no one felt uncomfortable. Also, Jared Leto gave his pizza to his mom! SO CUTE.

The fact that some of the celebrities just jumped up and helped serve the pizza was also fun.

6. The musical performances

Even though Idina's performance wasn't her best, there were plenty of great performances throughout the evening. I enjoyed Karen O's performance of her "Best Song" nominee, which I had never heard before. I also loved Pink's rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and I was singing along with Bette the whole time she performed "Wind Beneath My Wings." Also, Pharrell's song is so catchy and HAPPY despite his stupid hat and weird shoes.

7. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emma Watson.

I'm sorry, isn't this one of the cutest things you've ever seen?

I looked and looked for a GIF of Joseph holding the envelope in front of the camera before they announced the award... and LUCKILY I FOUND IT.

8. Matthew McConaughey's acceptance speech.

I cannot spell that guy's name for my life but at least I can pronounce it (another Travolta dig WHAT). Anyway, I'm not his biggest fan, per se, but his acceptance speech was so thoughtful and sweet. It was almost like a sermon instead of an acceptance speech, but I thought it was great. If you want to read a transcript of it, go here.

9. The fact that Harry Potter movies, actors, and music seemed to get more shout-outs and features in this Oscars ceremony than they ever did when the series was actually in progress.

10. Darlene Love belting out "His Eye is On the Sparrow" as her acceptance speech for the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom.

I LOVED THIS. I was sitting in my seat with goosebumps going "PREACH!" I really want to see this documentary, and I love that she just let it all go. I loved that they cut to Bill Murray jumping to his feet, applauding, as she finished the song, and then panned wide to the crowd on their feet. Talk about unbridled joy and a huge voice!

HONORABLE MENTION: Kate Hudson's Dress

I mean. Flawless.

Those are my ten best Oscar moments... what did you enjoy?!