Archive | March, 2014

I’m So Excited! I’m So Excited! I’m So…EXCITED!!!!

14 Mar

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve written an entry. It’s unacceptable, really. I have no excuse beyond laziness. We’re in Durham, North Carolina this week, where there is little more to do than eat and nap, which is exactly what I’ve done. The weather here has actually been fairly decent – we had one or two days in the lower- to mid-70’s, which is incredible, but yesterday a big rainstorm came through and the temperatures plummeted again into the 40’s. It’s supposed to warm up again this weekend and then next week…Florida!!

We’ll spend a week in Tampa (been there, done that) before we head to Orlando, which is what I’m really excited about. One of the guys on the crew and I decided to look into sharing a room at one of the economy Disney Resorts and, as it turns out, we can actually stay there cheaper than what we would each pay out of our per diem for the company hotel option. We’re getting a room at the All-Stars Sports Resort near Disney’s Animal Kingdom for $115/night, which works out to less than $60/night per person. My regular budget is $70/night, so I’ll actually be able to put the money I save on hotels toward my tickets to the parks. The hotel that the company is staying in is far enough away from the venue that rental cars will be needed, so I don’t even have to pay for a rental car – just the difference in how much gas I use getting to and from work, which Steven and I will split.

In addition to that good news, it turns out that because we’re staying on property in a Disney Resort Hotel, we get to enjoy Extra Magic Hours, which means one park each day will open one hour early just for the people staying in the Disney Resort Hotels and one or more of the parks will stay open two hours past regular closing for us, as well! That’s great because we will have to work in the evenings, so we can get up early and enjoy some extra time in the parks before the major crowds come in. We also get to “test” the new MagicBands system that Walt Disney World is installing into the parks. We will receive colored wristbands (like slap bracelets) that, when scanned, will work as our hotel key, our tickets to get into the park, our FastPass and, if we were buying them, our meal plans. It’s kinda genius and I’m really excited to get to try them out.

Our MagicBands have shipped!

Our MagicBands have shipped!

In doing some research (I’m a planner), it looks like I’ll be able to get a 5-day pass for $304, and for $60 more I can upgrade those passes to Park Hoppers so I can go to any of the parks I want whenever I want to. That’s a nice option because, for example, we have a limited amount of time at the parks in the evening, so if we want to see Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 8:30 on Monday night and the 10:00 “Wishes” fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, we’d have to have Park Hoppers to go from one park to the other.

My friend Chris, who is doing merch for another tour that will be in Fort Lauderdale at the same time, will be driving up to spend our day off in the parks, too. That’s the day that the rest of the Evita company will be traveling to Naples, Florida, but I’ve booked a room at the Hilton Lake Buena Vista that night using my Hilton HHonors points, so I don’t even have to pay for the room that night. It’s all happening, folks. It’s all happening.

The way I see it, I’ll have six days to see everything in the four parks. One of my goals is to get lots and lots of great pictures – especially with characters. I’ve written before about how miserable my first trip to Walt Disney World was – that was 30 years ago and I intend on having the time of my life this go around. I want to make sure I see my friend Liz hanging out with Pluto in the new Festival of Fantasy parade. I want to see fireworks. I would love to meet Elsa and Anna, but according to Liz, the wait can sometimes be up to 5 hours, if you can imagine. I definitely want to see “Fantasmic!” and “Finding Nemo: The Musical.” And I have to ride Expedition Everest. Basically I want to do it all.

What are your Disney World must-sees and must-dos? Where should I plan to eat that’s both affordable and delicious? And where do I find those much talked about turkey legs?

10 Days To Walt Disney World!

10 Days To Walt Disney World!

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Let It Go or Why I’ve Quit Musical Theatre (For Now, Anyway)

4 Mar

This has been floating around Facebook today and, as it turns out, was written by a fellow OCU alumnus. I think it’s incredibly insightful and written from the heart. It very much reflects my feelings on our industry and why I have chosen to leave New York in the hopes of finding a more supportive group of peers elsewhere.

The Art of Making Art

I love musical theatre.  When I was a kid, I used to relish dressing up and singing at the top of my lungs to Gypsy or Sound of Music around my house.  I was obsessed with the ’96 revival of Chicago with Bebe Neuwirth and Ann Reinking, listening to it over and over again.  Fosse was like a god to me; Sondheim even more so.  While I originally wanted to be a ballerina, by the age of twelve, it became pretty apparent I was destined for a career as an actor, specifically one in musical theatre as I not only would get to sing and act but also dance too.  I used to check out tons of old movie musicals from my library and video store like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (that barn dance still gets me every time) or Streisand’s version of Hello Dolly!  The…

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My Bologna Has A First Name…It’s O-S-C-A-R

3 Mar

Well, as they are wont to be, this year’s Oscars are over…though I was seriously starting to question whether they might go on all night. And…as I predicted…I am very pleased that “Frozen” won the Oscar for Best Animated Motion Picture and “Let It Go” won for Best Original Song! (Told ya so!)

Unfortunately, I was packing up the merch booth when the movie won, but I was back to the hotel in plenty of time to see Idina Menzel sing “Let It Go.” And to hear this:

I’m sorry…what did he say? Who did he introduce?? I have to give her credit where credit is due…in spite of being in rehearsals for a Broadway show, flying out to L.A., having a limited amount of rehearsal, being called “Adele Dazeem” in front of billions of people and clearly fighting off some massive (and understandable) nerves, I think Ms. Menzel gave a pretty great performance. A lot of people have been very critical of it, but honestly, I can’t imagine being in her shoes. Her studio performance of the song, which is heard on the movie’s soundtrack, has become a bit of a cultural phenomenon and would be nearly impossible to replicate live, and singing on the Oscars for the first time – or even the 10th time – must be terrifying. Here is her performance from last night’s Oscars.

Not too long after Ms. Menzel screlted for the world, it was announced that “Let It Go” had won the Oscar for Best Original Song. Not only did this make the song’s husband-and-wife team first-time Oscar winners, it also made Bobby Lopez the youngest EGOT winner in history. What is EGOT? It’s what happens when one person wins the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards over the course of their career. Including Mr. Lopez, only 12 people have won these awards in competitive categories: Richard Rodgers, Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, John Gielgud, Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols, Whoopi Goldberg, Scott Rudin and now…Bobby Lopez. There are three additional members of the EGOT Club who won one or more of the qualifying awards in non-competitive categories: Liza Minelli, James Earl Jones and my girl, Barbra Streisand.

When I worked as the merchandise manager at Avenue Q on Broadway, I briefly met the Lopezes a couple of times. They were both lovely to me and I am so happy for their continued successes. They wrote a very charming acceptance speech that ended with Kristen Anderson-Lopez sending a message out to the couples’ daughters back in Brooklyn: “…never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people you are.” I think that’s what resonates so deeply in me with this song – it’s about celebrating you, not in spite of what color or gender you are or what you believe or can do or who you love but because of those things. It was a beautiful speech and a deserved win.

While we’re on the subject of the Oscars…can we talk about Lupita Nyong’o and how devastatingly beautiful she is and how genuine she seems to be? She looked absolutely stunning tonight (as she has at every awards ceremony this year) and deservedly (and surprisingly) became only the 7th black actress to win an Academy Award, winning 75 years after Hattie McDaniel became the first black actress to win for her role as Mammy in “Gone With the Wind.” Really? Only 7 in 75 years? Ms. Nyong’0’s acceptance speech was flawless and heartfelt. Here’s a transcript of it:

Thank you to the Academy for this incredible recognition. 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. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own. Steve McQueen, you charge everything you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. Thank you so much for putting me in this position. This has been the joy of my life. I’m certain that the dead are standing about you and watching and they are grateful and so am I.

Chiwetel, thank you for your fearlessness and how deeply you went into telling Solomon’s story. Michael Fassbender, thank you so much. You were my rock. Alfre and Sarah, it was a thrill to work with you. Joe Walker, the invisible performer in the editing room, thank you. Sean Bobbitt, Kalaadevi, Adruitha, Patty Norris, thank you, thank you, thank you, I could not be here without your work.

I want to thank my family for your training and the Yale School of Drama as well for your training. My friends, the Wilsons, this one’s for you. My brother, Junior, sitting by my side. Thank you so much. You are my best friend. And Ben, my other best friend, my chosen family.

When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from your dreams are valid.

Thank you.


If you haven’t seen Ms. Nyong’o’s performance as Patsey in “12 Years A Slave,” please do. The movie isn’t easy to watch, but I’m glad I pushed through and watched it to the end. It’s an important story told by incredible actors…and it’s the 2014 Oscar winner for Best Picture. Be sure to check it out.

Lupita Nyong'o on the red carpet at the 2014 Academy Awards

Lupita Nyong’o on the red carpet at the 2014 Academy Awards

Snow What Happens Now?

2 Mar

What cruel twist of fate is this that on the very eve of our departure out of Cincinnati we are threatened with the possibility of a winter storm that could impede our imminent escape to warmer climes? Things haven’t been all that bad this week – certainly better than last – but I’m now so conditioned to moving every week that I’m just ready to get the show on the road. Literally. With the threat of bad weather, though, things are kind of in limbo and there are lots of questions that, unfortunately, may not be answered until tomorrow. The big question today is, will there be a second show tonight? There’s a vicious rumor going around the theatre that the evening show may be cancelled due to a snow alert. I say “vicious” only because it probably isn’t going to happen. If it did, though, it would give the crew a head start on loading out and getting our trucks on the road, buying more time to ensure they get to Charlotte as safely and as close to on-time as possible. It would also mean that I could watch Idina Menzel sing “Let It Go” on the Oscars tonight, which would make me supremely happy. Shocking, I know… Don’t judge.