The Highs and Lows of the 2017 Tony Awards

Another opening, another show. Another chance to joke about the Oscars mix-up.

The 2017 Tony Awards, our annual Super Bowl, were last night and proved to be a journey of excitement and disappointment all at the same time. While I don’t think anything will beat the excitement from last year’s #HamilTonys, this ceremony did have its good bits, but for every good bit there was a bad Kevin Spacey one. Here are some of our highs and lows from this year’s Tony Awards.

Lows: The Opening Number

I know Kevin Spacey is a respected actor/human etc. etc. but…. I was just not left that impressed with his Groundhog Day-inspired montage, highlighting all the nominated shows (although 10 points for Griffyndor for the tap dance break). Is it because we’ve been blessed with James Corden and Neil Patrick Harris in the past few years? Yeah, probably. I just expect to be left in tears by the end of the opening number. I don’t want it to end with a pun including “Your host is found”, no matter how many Dear Evan Hansen refs I long for.

High: It’s Been A Long Time Coming For Gavin Creel

Longtime Broadway and stage star Gavin Creel FINALLY won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Hello, Dolly! He was previously nominated for Hair and Thoroughly Modern Millie (which made his win even more special because Sutton Foster handed him his trophy) but he’s one of those actors that has been around for so long (he’s only 41) that he’s got a strong fan base (and support from fellow actors) even without the Tony. I saw him in the national tour of The Book of Mormon a few years ago and couldn’t stop raving about him. Did you watch him last year in She Loves Me? Come on. His speech was perfect and awkward (1:45 THAT IS ME) and admirable (SUPPORT ARTS EDUCATION!). I love when well-deserving actors who’ve been in it a while finally get recognition. Also goes for Dear Evan Hansen’s Rachel Bay Jones!

High: Performances to Give You The Chills

The Tonys are the only major award show that is site specific. You can easily go to your local cinema and watch an Oscar-nominated film. Turn on the TV and tune-in to an Emmy-nominated show. Pop in a cassette tape and listen to a Grammy-nominated album. But with the Tonys, you have to physically be in New York City to see these Broadway shows. So when the casts take the stage to perform, they’re performing for everyone around the world watching the show, who can’t necessarily get to the Big Apple. It gives a visual to fans who have only listened to the soundtrack, or maybe have never even heard the show at all. Which is why I always look forward to the actors getting a chance to show their talents off for the millions watching at home. Some standout performances this year were legend-in-the-making Eva Noblezada and the cast of Miss Saigon, Josh Groban and the cast of  The Great Comet throwing the best Russian party, and cast of Bandstand, making me want to take swing dance classes.

Low: Random Celebs

Former pro hockey player and Canadian Ron Duguay was the first rando to introduce the performance by the cast of Come From Away, because it takes place in New Foundland. And he is Canadian, you see. It makes sense. I was also confused because it kinda sounded like he went off script, and winged the intro… but what do I know, I’m American. And for some reason, Keegan Michael Key introduced the Great Comet cast, and I’m still trying to figure that one out. I love the guy but, if anyone has any insight, that would be supes helpful.

High: Playwrights in the Spotlight

As I previously mentioned, the Tonys are a chance for casts to give viewers a small sliver of what they do 8 times a week. But what about all the plays? It’s hard to just recreate a scene from a play just to show that they’re nominated for Best Play/Best Revival of a play. But this year, they did it right (or wright?) and had the playwrights take the stage and describe the show they wrote in their own words. More of this please.

High: Rachel Bloom, Future Tonys Host

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star and renowned Broadway geek Rachel Bloom served as a backstage correspondent and to quote someone on Twitter, “Rachel Bloom is actually hosting this year’s Tonys, briefly interrupted by a man doing dated impressions.” Rachel was basically representing all of us nerds watching at home, with no chill for how exciting it is to be at the Tonys. Please host next year. CW is in the CBS brotherhood.

High: Oh, Hello!

This particular part of the show was quite the rollercoaster. First, the Oh Hello dudes came on stage to bring some actual humor to the show. If you watched John Mulaney and Nick Kroll host the Independent Spirit Awards earlier this year, you already know how hilarious and entertaining they are as a co-hosting duo. So when they came on stage to introduce the Radio City Rockettes, it brought the show back up, and quite frankly much better than Kevin Spacey’s opening number ever was.

Low: Rockettes

Andddd then the Rockettes did a few high kicks – like I get it, they’re at Radio City – but why. Why? Oh, because it gave Leslie and Cynthia a reason to sing.

High: Leslie Odom Jr. & Cynthia Erivo Saving the Rockettes

Except it lasted approx 1 minute, which was way too short. They could’ve stayed on stage and sang all the winners and it would’ve been totally fine. Get these two in a show or on tour together, SOMETHING. I WILL GIVE YOU MY MONIES.

High: Dr. Biden and Joe

Dr. Jill Biden was on hand to introduce a performance by the cast of Bandstand, which centers on a group of veterans coming home after World War II. With Dr. Biden’s long support of the military and their family, it was a no-brainer that she was there. But what I loved is that she got a standing ovation, clearly in appreciation for her service, as well as the service of her hubs and the entire Obama administration, and it made me long for the days of pre-Election 2016 Tonys. But the best part? Seeing Uncle Joe in the audience proudly watching his wife on stage, just as her date and nothing else. God bless.

Low: Kevin Spacey’s Impressions

If you didn’t know that Kevin Spacey does a real good impression of Johnny Carson, well know you know (if you watched the Tonys). And because he needed material, of course he pulled out the wig, since a Carson impression is relevant to the interests of all the people watching the Tonys. It was then that I texted Molly and mentioned that Carson is one of the party tricks Spacey’s got in his bag, and as you’ll see in the message below, I totally called the next impression.

During his Clinton impression, he called out Ben Platt and made a few Hillary jokes because THAT’S STILL FUNNY. Us, and most of the people watching the bit:

And because third time’s the charm, he had to come out as fake U.S. President Frank Underwood (along with Robin Wright & Michael Kelly, for some reason – the bit didn’t need them tbh it still sucked) to hand LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA THE ENVELOPE FOR THE WINNER OF BEST MUSICAL. We had already been Lin-less for the entire show, I didn’t need Spacey to ruin this too. But alas, he did.

High: Bette Midler Refuses To Be Played Off

The Divine Miss M won her first Tony (she’s an O away from EGOT) for Hello, Dolly! and because she’s Bette Midler, she didn’t give a crap about playoff music. There are few people in the world that can get away with telling an orchestra to stop, and she is one of them. It was everything I expected and more.

Sidenote: The Tony producers are S A V A G E for getting Glenn Close to present the category, since there was a possibility that Patti LuPone (rumored rival) could’ve won. It might have been an epic face-to-face that us drama-loving nerds died over.

High: Words Fail for Dear Evan Hansen

Dear reader, it’s gonna be a good day, and this is why – Dear Evan Hansen won six Tonys and all is right with the world.

First off, the production went into the ceremony with 9 noms – 3 less than top show Great Comet, making me think DEH could be beat out by Josh Groban. But the show all about social anxiety and connection clearly connected with Tony voters, and won not only Best Musical, but Best Book of a Musical, Best Score (by our boys and La La Land’s Pasek & Paul), Best Orchestrations (BACK TO BACK WINS FOR HAMFAM ALEX LACAMOIRE), and acting prizes for Rachel Bay Jones (MOM) and dreamy angel of an actor Ben Platt. He was the favorite going into the show, but seeing this 23 year old win and give his speech was everything I wanted in a Tonys acceptance speech, including an inspiring quote that teens will be inking on folders today – “To all young people watching at home, don’t waste time being anyone but yourself, because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”

And thennn earlier in the show, Ben, who was out of DEH for a few performances and put on vocal rest – made a triumphant return by singing signature song Waving Through a Window.

If you don’t have your tickets now, guess you’ll be waiting along with us until the tour (or when more Broadway seats become avail) and playing the soundtrack on repeat.

Low: Go Home Bobby Darin

Does Kevin Spacey think hosting the Tonys is going to help his Emmy For Your Consideration campaign? I feel like he treated the entire ceremony like a talent show. Between the impressions (did I mention he also did James Earl Jones in front of James Earl Jones – who won a lifetime achievement award? AND MORE AIR TIME WAS GIVEN TO SPACEY RATHER THAN JAMES EARL JONES??), mediocre bits and underwhelming opening number, it was all just a bit… trying too hard that it made me not like Kevin Spacey. And I LIKE Kevin Spacey!

But the thing that sealed the deal for me was the closing number, in which Kevin returned to his Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of 1950s singer Bobby Darin and invited Patti LuPone and all the winners to sing The Curtain Falls – a ballad, a FRIGGIN BALLAD. I don’t want to end Broadway’s biggest night with a ballad! Give me an uptempo! Give me a rap that was written minutes before by Lin-Manuel and included things that happened in the show! This isn’t a funeral. This is a celebration of all things theater!!!! In what I’m assuming was meant to be a lovely, community inspiring final song, it just came across as awkward since no one knew the song or even knew what was happening.

Spacey hosting proved that a host steers the ship to success. If he fails, then it kind of brings the entire show down. Sure, there were bright spots like Dear Evan Hansen and Bette Midler. But the best well-rounded award shows included hilarious and fun bits from the host – WE MISS YOU JAMES CORDEN – not just chuckle-worthy jokes and impressions you’ve been doing for years. Give me dance numbers, give me more singing, give me DRAMAAAAA – it IS gay pride month after all. Something Kevin probably should know about, right?

 

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Who To Root For At The Tonys In A Post-Hamilton World

Congrats everyone who decided to enter the Tonys this season and not last season – Hamilton will not be dominating the awards this year. But will another show take its place instead?

The 71st Annual Tony Awards nominations were announced yesterday, and coming out on top was Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 with 12 nominations. For those of you reading this that may not be Broadway fans per se, but more of a “Hamilton changed the way I look at musical theater” type of person, I’m guess you’re less likely to watch the Tonys this year because Ham won’t be as featured as it was in 2016. But let me tell you, there are still plenty of fantastic shows that are worthy of your support, both on Tonys day and in the theater year round. Here are just some of our top picks for who to root for, and who’ll dominate come June 11th.

Dear Evan Hansen

9 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (Ben Platt), Best Score (Oscar winners Benj Pasek & Justin Paul)

What it’s all about: “All his life, Evan Hansen has felt invisible. But when a tragic event shocks the community and thrusts him into the center of a rapidly evolving controversy, Evan is given the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to be somebody else.” {x}

Starring: Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, Rachel Bay Jones

Why: Let’s just say it’s the Hamilton of 2017. Dear Evan Hansen has been winning acclaim ever since it premiered in D.C. back in 2015. When it was Off-Broadway, the show won five various awards, including an Obie for its star Ben Platt. Just for a second – we need to talk about TONY NOMINATED Ben Platt. The Pitch Perfect star may just be adding some hardware to his name come June because this is a freaking breakout role for him. If you haven’t yet, listen to the soundtrack, or at least listen to For Forever, which legit gave me goosebumps and made me cry in its 5 minute span. Another actor to look out for is Tony nominee Rachel Bay Jones, who plays Evan’s mom, a woman who just doesn’t know how to connect with her son. Her emotions pour out on So Big/So Small, and if you get to this point in the soundtrack/show without crying, this track will be the breaking point.

Speaking of which, the soundtrack debuted at number 8 on the Billboard chart, which is the highest debut by a cast recording since 1961. Hamilton didn’t even do that! It’s also worth noting that a number of notable Ham creatives are also behind DEH, including Alex Lacamoire (Music orchestrations and arrangements), David Korins (Scenic design) and Nevin Steinberg (Sound design). The first two also got nominated, but not Nevin because the Drama League is dumb and the category was taken out a couple years ago (but is being reinstated next year!). 

Come From Away

7 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score

What it’s all about: “Following the 9/11 attacks, 38 planes and 6,579 passengers were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, doubling the population of one small town on the edge of the world. Based on interviews with locals, Come From Away is about how hosting this international community of strangers spurred unexpected camaraderie in extraordinary circumstances.” {x}

Starring: Jenn Colella, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kessebaum

Why: Making a 9/11 musical is toeing a fine line between tacky and offensive and honorable. But Come From Away has gotten positive reviews that lean towards the latter, and in fact suggest that this story is what needs to be told in this shitshow of horrific times. Peter Marks of The Washington Post even noted Come From Away “an antidote for what ails the American soul.” And while the actors may not be household names, the ensemble is a mix of both veterans and newbies, who are all worthy of a Tony, including Jenn Colella, who is up for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical.

Miss Saigon

2 nominations, Best REvival of a Musica, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

What it’s all about: “Set in 1975 during the final days of the of the Vietnam War, Miss Saigon is an epic love story about the relationship between Chris, an American GI and Kim, a young Vietnamese woman. They are separated when the country falls, until she returns to his life years later, in this musical inspired by the opera Madame Butterfly.” {x}

Starring: Eva Noblezada, Alistair Brammer, Jon Jon Briones, Rachelle Ann Go

Why: This 25th anniversary production earned rave reviews when it opened in London in 2014, and finally three years later, it has made its way across the pond with most of its original revival cast, including Eva Noblezada, who plays the lead of Kim and earned her very first Tony nom yesterday. It’s no easy feat playing a role that Filipino royalty Lea Salonga originated, but 21-year-old Eva made the role her own and is set to become a star much like Lea did years ago. In fact, like Lea was discovered at just 18 (this video will never get old), Eva was 17 when she performed at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, and a casting director pegged her to play Kim for the London revival. The rest is history. But it shouldn’t be a surprise – here’s a vid of Eva at 14 giving Sutton Foster a run for her money .

War Paint

4 nominations, including Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Patti LuPone & Christine Ebersole)

What it’s all about: “Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden defined beauty standards for the first half of the 20th Century. Brilliant innovators with humble roots, both were masters of self-invention who sacrificed everything to become the country’s first major female entrepreneurs. They were also fierce competitors, whose 50-year tug-of-war would give birth to an industry. From Fifth Avenue society to the halls of Congress, their remarkable rivalry was ruthless, relentless and legendary—pushing both women to build international empires in a world dominated by men.” {x}

Starring: Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole

Why: Um, Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole? Diva-off. 

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

12 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Direction 

What it’s all about: “Natasha is a beautiful ingénue visiting Moscow while she waits for her beloved fiancé Andrey to return from the war. In a moment of indiscretion, she is seduced by the dashing (but already married) Anatole and her position in society is ruined. Her only hope lies with Pierre, the lonely outsider whose love and compassion for Natasha may be the key to her redemption… and to the renewal of his own soul.” {x}

Starring: Denee Benton, Josh Groban

Why: I’ve heard nothing but great things about this show, and every clips I see makes me want to see it even more. The intimate setting, the creative blocking, the overall fanciful atmosphere might give it the edge over Dear Evan Hansen, which has long been considered a front runner for months.  Also worth noting – both its stars Denee and Josh Groban made their Broadway debuts with Natasha, and they’re both nominated for their first Tony awards. The girl from UnReal and Ally McBeal star Josh Groban could be Tony winners, y’all. 

Hello, Dolly!

10 nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actors (Bette Miller, David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel, Kate Baldwin)

What it’s all about: “A meddlesome matchmaker brings together the young clerk of a wealthy Yonkers merchant and his assistant with a widowed milliner and her assistant, while making sure she herself gets to marry the merchant, in Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s musical adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker.” {x}

Starring: Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel

Why: We are bad musical theater nerds. Molly only saw the movie of Hello, Dolly for the first time recently, while I have seen neither stage musical nor movie. What I do know is that other more well-educated theater nerds have been v excited for this revival, mainly because of the return of Bette herself to the Broad-way. An established show with revered actors is bound to get some love from the Tonys, and with 10 noms it’s clear someone’s gonna go home with that trophy. 

Falsettos

5 nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actors (Christian Boyle, Andrew Rannells, Brandon Uranowitz, Stephanie J. Block)

What it’s all about: William Finn and James Lapine’s musical combines their Off-Broadway works The March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, which tell the story of a gay man named Marvin, his lover Whizzer, Marvin’s wife Trina and their extended family from the early ‘80s through the early days of the AIDS crisis.

Starring: Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells, Stephanie J. Block, Brandon Uranowitz, Tracie Thoms

Why: The OG version of this show premiered nearly 25 years ago, but its themes of gay relationships and the AIDS crisis are still hot topics of conversation today. In addition to the fact the story itself is so relevant, the stellar cast tells the Falsettos tale in a whole new way, and it’s definitely one to watch out for on Tonys night.

Kevin Spacey

2 nominations, 1 win

What it’s all about: Kevin Spacey is hosting the Tonys for the first time. Kevin Spacey! It seemed like kind of a random choice but I’m here for it! #MaybeHeWillAdmitHisLoveForTheaterGoesBeyondJustTheToeTappingMusical

Remember Their Names (FAME): Pasek & Paul

Pop Quiz: Who are these guys?

 

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If you answered Pasek and Paul, congratulations, you know how to read a blog post title! If you answered ‘I have no freaking clue’, may I introduce to you Benj Pasek (left) & Justin Paul, the musical duo who are about to have the best year of their lives. I’m 99.2% sure of it. Why? They’ve created enough buzz with two big projects that they could potentially be nominated for both Oscars and Tonys in the same year. NBD.

First off, these two are the lyricists behind the songs in La La Land, the movie that everyone is raving about, including me, who lit’rally cannot stop thinking about how great it was since seeing it last week. Second, they’re the creators behind Dear Evan Hansen, the Broadway musical that everyone is raving about, including me, who has not seen it but lit’rally cannot stop playing the only two songs released from the soundtrack on loop.

So before these dudes blow up in 2017, here’s a timeline of their work so far, because with the way their careers are going, I don’t think they’re going away anytime soon.

2005 – Edges

Benj & Justin, both 31, met when they were freshmen at the University of Michigan, and their creative partnership began. Their sophomore year, they created a coming-of-age musical called Edges, which in the beginning era of Facebook (colleges ONLY!) and Mp3 file sharing, became a viral sensation amongst musical theater nerds everywhere. Here’s our boyfriend Aaron Tveit performing Along the Way from Edges a few years after the duo first composed the song cycle in college. Dreamy as he’s ever been.

2007 – Jonathan Larson Glory

Just one year after they graduated from UofM, they were the recipients of the Jonathan Larson grant, which is named after the late Rent composer and honors  musical theatre composers, lyricists and book writers. Given by the Jonathan Larson Foundation in conjunction with the American Theatre Wing (aka the org that’s responsible for the Tonys), Benj & Justin became the youngest people ever to receive the grant. And so far, the grant has paid off.

2010 – A Christmas Story

The musical adaptation of the beloved movie was Benj & Justin’s big musical break and landed them a number of firsts. After their were recruited to write the music and lyrics for the show after the original composer left, A Christmas Story became the first large-scale musical they’d ever written. When it premiered at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 2013, it became their first Broadway show. It marked their first nominations for the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. It also marked their first Tony nominations, for Best Book and Best Musical. Who knew Ralphie could give this duo so much acclaim?

2012 – Dogfight

Every year, there are a couple shows Off-Broadway that folks in the theater community can’t stop raving about. In 2012, that show was Dogfight, a musical adaptation of the 1991 movie starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. It centered on a Marine who takes part in a “dogfight”, in which each dude adorably attempts to find the ugliest woman to take out on a date. The show won two Lucille Lortel Awards, the Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, and earned a Drama League nomination. The show also started a collaboration between Benj & Justin and Stacey Mindich, who comissioned the two to write and compose the show, but she later became the lead producer of Dear Evan Hansen.

2013 – Smash

Go back into the part of your brain that forgot about season two of Smash, because Benj & Justin were recruited to use their fresh talents to write songs for the fake musical The Hit List, which had more of a contemporary musical feel to it, as opposed to the Marilyn Monroe/traditional musical Bombshell. Katharine McPhee first sang this song on the show (and her version is the only one available on the soundtrack), but Jeremy Jordan sang a bit of it in a later episode, and while both versions are fantastic, I hardly ever find fault when it comes to Jeremy and his singing capabilities. It’s one of the more memorable tracks from Smash, and that’s all in part to Benj & Justin’s genius. Later, NBC head honcho (and man responsible for all those live musicals) Bob Greenblatt was so impressed with the duo that he went on to become a co-producer of Dear Evan Hansen. Speaking of which…

2015 – Dear Evan Hansen

Like Dogfight before it, Dear Even Hansen got a shitload of acclaim during its Off-Broadway run earlier this year. Unlike Dogfight, DEH has gotten its shot on Broadway, and recently opened to even more acclaim. Starring Pitch Perfect’s Ben Platt, he plays a high school student with social anxiety and his life turns upside down when his relationship to a classmate who commits suicide is misconstrued. Based on the reviews, it’s both heart-wrenching, funny, heartfelt and extremely relevant right down to its use of social media within the show. Benj & Justin collaborated with Hamilton orchestrator/arranger/musical director extraordinaire Alex Lacamoire, and in a full circle moment, the show is directed by Michael Greif, who directed the OG production of Rent. DEH has already won the dream duo an Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, and Obie Award, and as previously mentioned, could be the one to watch come Tony Awards.

2016 – La La Land

Director Damien Chazelle and his college friend Justin Hurwitz had been working on La La Land for years – it was even in the works before Damien won acclaim for Whiplash – and Justin had composed the music for La La Land, but needed the perfect lyricists to fill in the gaps. Enter a similar duo, Benj & Justin who penned the words to the exquisite tracks in the movie. La La Land is a movie that is about music and artistry at its core, so the hiring of Benj & Justin wasn’t just a random hiring choice. Their work *becomes a character in its own right* in the film, and critics have noticed. It’s already been a big hit in the festival circuit, and the success continues to forge on with its recent Critics Choice Awards and Golden Globe noms. It probably won’t stop when it comes Oscars time, either. While I recommend watching the movie first then listening to the soundtrack (BECAUSE IT’S SO FREAKING GOOD), you can listen to the entire soundtrack here!

2017 and Beyond

So what’s next for these two? They’ll have to navigate through awards season past June’s Tony Awards, but they already have a couple high-profile projects in the works – they’ve written all the songs for Hugh Jackman’s P.T. Barnum biopic, The Greatest Showman, and Disney also hired them to write new songs for the live-action remake of Snow White. Fun fact: Ben Platt’s dad is the producer of both La La Land and Snow White. #Fam. Something tells me Pasek & Paul are just at the very beginning and gearing up to join the ranks of Rodgers & Hammerstein – which is a very good place to start.

Post-Hamilton Roundtable

We saw Hamilton. After following it from a Youtube sensation during Obama’s first term, to this thing Lin-Manuel Miranda kept tweeting about writing, to the off-Broadway masterpiece I seriously considered traveling to see if I could snag a ticket, to the cast recording we obsessed over, we finally saw Hamilton. It’s a little surreal finally seeing a show you’ve built up so much. We knew there was absolutely no way we’d be disappointed by it, but we couldn’t quite conceive of what it would be like to actually SEE it. We knew what you could know from Hamiltome, various tv interviews, awards show performances and a whole lot of social media stalking, but nothing could have really prepared us for attending Hamilton. If you’re wondering about what to expect, or if you’ve been and want to see how our experience measured up, read on.

The Room Where It Happens

M: First of all, we know that we were incredibly fortunate to get tickets to Hamilton while it’s still the hottest seat in town and some of the original cast is still performing. That being said, we were willing to wait for it (forgive me, I had to). But seriously, Traci saw a block of tickets go up in November of 2015, bought the tickets that day, and we went in October of 2016. If you’re patient or need some time to plan a trip, this is a great way to do it. We didn’t have to deal with the secondary market and our seats in the left mezz were, like, $110 or something ridiculous like that. Well worth it.

T: In full disclosure, I planned an East Coast trip last November because my friend said she was getting married in Connecticut in October 2016, and I basically was like – ‘What date are you getting married again? Now you can’t uninvite me because I asked the date.’ What I’m saying is, force yourself to be a guest at a friend’s wedding and double up the trip by getting tickets to Hamilton.

M: If you haven’t been to the Richard Rodgers and are concerned about having a bad seat, don’t sweat it. Sometimes I like the birds-eye view from above, and in this case it was a great vantage point to see what was going on in the upper levels of the set and far-flung corners of the stage. Obviously it’s a bit harder to catch things like facial expressions, but that’s what they make opera glasses for. Note: we did not bring opera glasses. Anyway, if you don’t have orchestra seats, you’ll be fine. If you DO have orchestra seats, I have some student loan bills you can give me a hand with.

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T: Like Molly said, I loved that we could see the entire stage from above, and it was great for two notable reasons: A) there were amazing lighting designs displayed on the stage during Hurricane and It’s Quiet Uptown that still stick out in my mind and made the songs next level. B) it was easier to spot OG HAM OTP Anthony Ramos and Jasmine Cephas-Jones share intimate stage moments with each other, including right after the final bow when they walked off the stage together with their arms around each other it’s fine.

M: I’m assuming if you’re reading this you’ve seen the Hamilton set from Hamiltome, the PBS documentary, and photos. I’ll just add that in action, it was fantastic. The second balcony/catwalk level gives you plenty to watch outside of the primary action and is used to great effect in the opening number. You’ve probably read that it was designed to evoke old ships and shipyards, and it does. I love that the set rode the line of not being too literal – not like a high school play where they would have rolled out a fake mansion set for the wedding, a cheesy backdrop for Yorktown and potted plants for the duel – but also not being overly spare and abstract. However, everything had enough 18th century flavor that it was easy to suspend disbelief.

T: I loved that the set was simple yet intricate enough to make you use your imagination just a little bit, but props and moving set pieces provided much more detail than just listening to the soundtrack. ALSO the turntable. A++++, set designer David Korins.

M: Plus LIGHTING, which Traci touched on above. Things like creating “rooms” in The Room Where It Happened were incredibly effective and visually engaging, but without edging into gimicky laser light show territory.

T: Speaking of the staging, I own the Hamiltome but have only briefly flipped through it because I didn’t want to get “spoiled” with how each song was played out on stage. When the cast performed Yorktown at the Tonys, I got literal chills when they got to the line “the world turned upside down” and everyone was in slow motion while flipping chairs and props upside down in the air. That’s the same feeling I got when seeing the soundtrack visually played out for the first time.

M: Likewise, the staging of Reynolds Pamphlet with all this chaos and King George III snickering at the action (I had NO CLUE he’d be there), and the slow-moving human hurricane with Hamilton at the eye in Hurricane was just amazing.

T: Obviously Helpless followed by Satisfied was a highlight, but other memorable staging came from the likes of Ten Duel Commandments, Take a Break, one fab lighting change in What Comes Next? and of course, The World Was Wide Enough aka the final duel aka OH THE TEARS

HamilTrash for the HamilCast

M: If you’re seeing Hamilton anytime in the future – in New York or Chicago – you aren’t seeing much or any of the Original Broadway Cast. What you ARE seeing, whenever and wherever you see it, is one of the most talented, affecting, energetic young casts working in theater today. Count yourself as lucky.

T: I’ve written about this subject before, but the cast of Hamilton has a deep bench. Like Mariana Trench deep.

M: Over the days after we saw Hamilton, I think we looked at each other and just said “MANDY” like five times. We are both fans of Mandy Gonzalez’s other work – especially as the original Nina in In The Heights – and she made a fantastic Angelica. I can’t compare it to Renee Elise Goldsberry’s performance because I haven’t seen that, but Mandy’s vocals were every bit as solid as Renee’s are on the cast recording. And since she’s such a seasoned actress, it wasn’t an imitation of Renee’s Angelica. She was at the same time warm but more worldly than Eliza, and it was easy to believe that she, not Alexander, was the smartest person in the room (a comment Lin has made about Angelica – so she played it just right).

T: To be fair, the Post-Hamilton days included a content pitch that was, ‘But what if we tweeted to each cast member we saw individually to tell them how good they were and why?’ (This seemed tedious, but here this post is anyways).

M: I know they’ve heard that they’re good, but it’s almost as though I wanted to individually thank everybody for what they left on the stage that night – and every night.

M: You know how Javier is “Sexy Hamilton?” It’s true, he is. And I can’t even tell you exactly why, which I realize is useless. It’s his overall confident, swaggery vibe I guess. Javier’s Hamilton very believably ages from a young, scrappy and hungry kid from the West Indies to a middle-aged politician. My heart both swelled and broke for young Alex during My Shot when we hit the “do I talk to much?” part, and by the end when he said goodbye to Eliza before the duel I found myself thinking “wow, he has gotten so much older.”

T: You know who else was sexy – even though HamilTrash knows this already – Anthony Ramos. There’s a part in Blow Us All Away where Phillip is hitting on some ladies and says, “And y’all look pretty good in ya’ frocks/How ‘bout when I get back, we all strip down to our socks?” and I was like the anti-Dobby and was on the verge of throwing my socks AT Anthony Ramos. Good lord.

M: I had seen reference to Peggy being young and adorable, and when I only had to go off of the cast recording I was like “yeah, I mean the ‘and Peggy’ part is cute I guess.” But seriously, guys. Jasmine Cephas Jones is adorable playing Peggy as the quintessential tagalong kid sister, which makes it even more amazing to see her transformation in act two. Jasmine’s vocals in Say No To This were spot-on and I didn’t even feel like I was watching the same actress as I was in act one. Mark it: 2016 is the year the Cephas Jones fam takes over the world.

T: INSERT BLATANT PLUG FOR THIS IS US.

M: We love Andrew Chappelle – mostly from Snapchat, follow Achapphawk if you aren’t already – and were really excited to see he was on as Hercules Mulligan/ James Madison the night we went. The same humor and high energy that we love on Snapchat comes through on stage. I so associate Hercules Mulligan with the gentle giant vibe that Oak brings to it, and it was fun to see the character interpreted a little differently.

T: Hamilton has helped make a tectonic shift in theater/Broadway in many different ways, and one of them is that it became the first cultural phenomenon in a digital age. The last time a show like this became popular way outside the radius of New York City was Rent, and that was 20 years ago when we still saw ads with the phrase “AOL Keyword: Titanic”. Actors of any medium have the chance to reach out to fans like never before, and the mostly millennial cast of Hamilton, notably Andrew Chappelle, has taken advantage of that. He’s hilarious, talented, entertaining, and made a lot of people pay attention to swings like himself, who have often times gone unrecognized for their extensive skills in knowing multiple parts. Never before have I entered a theater, looked at the cast and been ecstatic that a swing, nevertheless knew their name before going into the show, is on that night.

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M: Speaking of people we love because they’re funny on the internet, Thayne Jasperson was a fantastically pesky Samuel Seabury. A Farmer Refuted is fun on the cast recording but not one of the biggest showstoppers – live, with the counterparts of Hamilton’s rap and Seabury’s nerdy loyalist song, it was a delight.

T: Farmer Refuted was one of the songs I usually skipped but after seeing it IRL I skip it no mo’.

M: The fun thing about seeing Hamilton as a weirdo who follows basically the whole cast on social media is you know who all of the members of the ensemble are and can watch for them all individually like a proud mom at a high school musical.

T: CARLEIGH BETTIOL IS A GD BEAUTIFUL TROPICAL FISH.

M: She is one of those ensemble members that you seriously can’t take your eyes off of. I mean, PRESENCE.

M: This post is mostly a big pile of positivity, but we have to pause for a moment to call out a 14-year-old child. AKA, this girl young enough to be wearing braces sitting behind us who went on a furious rant like only an entitled but ill-informed tween can do, because the original cast wasn’t performing. Girl. They have BEEN GONE. At one point she was whining that Daveed wasn’t there and like, if you are such a big fan you would have known that he left months ago? Besides, you are seeing an amazing show with a fantastic cast, and it’s one of those plays that is NEVER going to be a vehicle for one star performer – it’s stronger than that.

T: I passive-aggresively tweeted the link to that understudy post I wrote knowing full well the teen behind us wouldn’t see it but maybe she would just feel the annoyance steaming from our auras. But to continue with what Molly was saying about this show not being entirely weighted by the cast, I’ll just let the HamGod, Lin-Manuel Miranda himself, speak to that:

“The first time I saw the show on Broadway was the first time he (President Obama) saw the show on Broadway. He came to our sixth preview and he didn’t see me in it. He saw Javier Munoz, the amazing alternate who is in it right now. The White House called and said the President is coming to the Saturday matinee – but I’m not in the Saturday matinee. That’s my time to take notes. It’s the only chance I get to watch it. We’re still in previews, we’re still making changes. And then I realized that this is actually great, because you send a message to the world – I’m not the star of the show. The show is the star of the show. And so for the President to see Javi was like a really great way of sending that message…” {x}

Your Pants Look Hot

T: Costume designer Paul Tazewell was one of the HamFam that added to the heap of Tonys this year, and rightfully so. Any piece 18th century is quite a feat to create, and Paul and his team created masterpieces on stage. With the main characters like Alexander, Burr and Jefferson, each had a distinct style and flair. This was prevalent even more so with Jefferson’s Purple Rain outfit, which was fit perfectly for both Daveed Diggs and Seth Stewart, who we saw as his replacement.

T: Mr. Tazewell then impressed even further with accompanying ensemble costumes that had a modern flair to them.  The idea behind the ensemble is that they’re dressed in a neutral base, as a visual metaphor of parchment. Because Hamilton was writing like he was out of time, duh.

M: Plus there was this concept that everyone would be modern from the neck up and 18th century or 18th century-inspired from the neck down. This goes to something I say to anyone who is critical of the multicultural casting. Well, the first thing I say is get over yourself, it’s not as though white people lack for opportunities. But secondly, this is “a story about America then, told by America now” and things like the modern hair and the parchment-colored clothing make it clear that the actors are the storytellers. That is, the ACTORS playing the characters are multicultural, but it’s not as though the CHARACTERS change backgrounds.

 

T: I would die to see these up close (they’ll probs be available in the Smithsonian some day), but for now, we have Hamilcast member Hope Easterbrook doing a twirl that I’ve watched on repeat.

 

You Knock Me Out, I Fall Apart

M: If you’re going to Hamilton, you’re going to cry.  I teared up in the opening number, before anything even happened. Like, by the time his mother died (spoiler? Not a spoiler), if not before.

T: I had to stop myself from tearing up as soon as I heard those first notes, ya know the BUM BUM-BUM-BUM-BUM BUM BUM dooo doo doooo doo part. But by the end of the song I couldn’t hold it in any longer and was really glad I had the foresight to have a tissue out and at the ready.

Although I knew I was going to cry, the one song that I was surprised to cry the most at was The Schuyler Sisters, which we all know is a V upbeat jam. But watching it all play out and hearing those three angelic women sing “how lucky we are to be alive right now” and “the greatest city in the world” while sitting in the Richard Rodgers after waiting all those months – it was too much for me.

M: I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through Wait For It without turning into a total tear-mill, and I was right. And of course some of it is the song itself – this and It’s Quiet Uptown were ones I had to skip for a while – but let’s not forget about Brandon Victor Dixon in all this. It’s also worth noting that for a few numbers, the staging and choreography gets super minimal and you really pay attention to the music above all (another example would be Dear Theodosia, which of course I cried during as well. Of. Course.)

T: Yes. Tears for all of the above. Dear Theodosia was perfectly still and wonderful. As was Best of Wives and Best of Women. Ugh. His meeting was at dawn though.

M: It’s Quiet Uptown didn’t so much hit me right in the feels, as the kids say, so much as punch me straight in the stomach. This is one of those numbers you can’t really experience in the cast recording – the harmonies are gorgeous but the way they swell in the theater was more beautiful than I would have guessed.

T: Again, the staging of this pushed me over the edge too. We are criers, if you couldn’t tell by this or the entire week of posts we dedicated to the act of crying.

M: I don’t think the end of Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story is a huge spoiler, but just a warning in case you’re sensitive to that kind of thing. In the end Alexander gives Eliza his hand, like she’s crossing a threshold, and she looks up and gasps and you will cry. There are a few interpretations – that she’s seeing heaven, or Alexander (which doesn’t work as well for me only because he’s already next to her) – but my favorite is that she’s looking up at the audience and realizing that she had done more than enough to tell Alexander’s story. Throughout the whole show I kept thinking about what the real historical figures would have thought about this show, once they made sense of what modern music sounds like and why all the ensemble ladies are in breeches or whatever. At that moment, I knew that the real Eliza would be – or is, maybe – shocked that the story she worked so hard to preserve is changing America over two hundred years later.

We’ll Never Love Anything As Much As Rosie O’Donnell Loved….

Rosie O’Donnell may be one of the most famous talk show hosts of the 90s and early 2000s, but we like to think of her as one of the most famous FANS, too. So deep was Rosie’s fondness for her favorite things that when we were discussing this post, we came up with dozens of musicians, games and foods that Rosie adored – even though it has been nigh on 14 years since The Rosie O’Donnell Show left the airwaves. While we like to think we share some of Rosie’s gusto, the fact is that we will never love anything as much as Rosie O’Donnell loved:

Kids

M: Rosie thought kids were punny (other thing Rosie loved: puns), but most of all, she was the ultimate kid-friendly adult. She actually LISTENED to kids, acted like their opinions and stories were legitimate, and didn’t ask them condescending questions. There’s a chance I’m conflating Rosie with Golly, her character in Harriet The Spy, but probably not.

I also always loved that Rosie seemed like a parent who genuinely got a kick out of her own kids, and I refuse to believe that Parker is a grown man because I still can hear Rosie’s Parker imitation.

Broadway

M: You know when you’d get a cast recording and listen to it over and over again? And maybe you still do that (ahem – Hamilton)? Rosie was a TV-sanctioned adult who did the same thing. Rosie adored showtunes and musical theater actors, and all of the hottest shows of the 90s and early 2000s performed on Rosie. It didn’t seem weird at the time, but there are very few talk shows that you can count on to feature up-and-coming musicals. There’s a lot to say here, so we’ll be revisiting this topic later in the week.

Of course, no mention of Rosie and Broadway would be complete without a nod to her tenure as Rizzo in Grease.

T: Remember right after her show ended, she invested in a musical called Taboo loosely based off of Boy George? Don’t worry, it got mostly bad reviews and closed after 100 performances, so unless you’re a crazy person like we are, you wouldn’t have remembered just how deep her Broadway love runs.

Broadway Kids

M: Rosie loved Broadway, and Rosie loved kids, so it stands to reason that Broadway Kids were Rosie’s jam – to the extent that she created Rosie’s Broadway Kids (now called Rosie’s Theater Kids), an organization that gets kids involved in the performing arts. However, during our childhood the Broadway Kids were at troop of polished musical theater kids who sometimes performed on shows like Rosie. I remember watching them through a lens of admiration mixed with envy. I feel like Lacey Chabert was always involved, but that can’t be possible.

T: Lacey Chabert – that bitch be everywehre.

Entemann’s

M: Entenmann’s baked goods reminded Rosie O’Donnell of the Long Island mom-types during her childhood playing bridge or whatever it was that Long Island moms did in the 60s. And now, Entenmann’s baked goods remind me of Rosie O’Donnell. I don’t know her position on TastyCakes.

T: I do know her position on Ring Dings, because audience members got that and milk before the show.

Koosh balls

T: There are few talk show hosts who can get away with launching rubber balls into the audience and make it look cool. Just imagine Oprah doing this for a second. And that’s OPRAH. When Rosie flung these into the crowd, it suddenly became an interactive show and added a sense of innocent fun unlike any other talk show on TV. It became so synonymous with her show that Koosh sold a special Rosie O’Donnell Show version of their Koosh Fling Shot, as seen here and the one sitting at my home collecting dust.

M: I got one of these at the store after the NBC tour, c. 1998. I don’t keep things so I got rid of it sometime in high school, but I sort of wish I still had it.

Tom Cruise

T: If there’s anything you took away from watching Rosie in the 90s, it’s that she had an obsession with two people: Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand. If you recall, Rosie had a soundboard that played audio clips next to her desk, and anytime she’d talk about her deep love for her celebrity crush, she’d play “Tommy, can you hear me?” a line from a song of the same name by The Who. She campaigned for him to be on her show, and when he finally made it, it was like watching Jim and Pam kiss for the first time. Rosie invited fans into her life by sharing personal anecdotes that made it seem we had been friends growing up in Commack, Long Island, and we were cheering her on as she lived out life long dream. I mean, while rewatching this clip, I legitimately said out loud (to no one), “THIS BRINGS ME SO MUCH JOY!” Especially if you forget about all of Tom Cruise’s persona.

M: When we were doing our Rosie Week research this summer, we were both floored by how quickly into the show’s run Tom appeared (plus a few others, like Donny Osmond). The buildup was so huge that at the time, it felt like years before “my Tommy” was a Rosie guest.

Barbra Streisand


T: As mentioned, Rosie’s other love was Barbra. She had loved the icon ever since she was a kid, not only because she enjoyed her music, but it was a common interest she shared with her late mother, who died of breast cancer when Rosie was just 10. She even used to amuse her mom by impersonating Barbra, so it was always like a maternal fan relationship with her.

In that first interview with Babs in ’97, I distinctly remember tearing up because Rosie was tearing up, but I feel like anyone would after watching Ro interview/meet her lifelong idol.

“For every boy and girl out there watching, dreams do come true, please welcome Barbra Streisand… You were a constant source of light in an often dark childhood. You inspired me and gave me the courage to dream a life better than the one I knew. I am profoundly grateful to you in so many ways.”

McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys

M: Rosie seemed so genuinely delighted by McDonald’s toys that it didn’t occur to me until I was writing this post at age 30 that it could have been a marketing tie-in. And honestly? I still think she really liked the toys. Rosie always had ALL of the Teeny Beanie Babies, even the “rare” ones.

T: Rosie probably had the Princess Diana one, LBR.

M: Thing from my childhood I DIDN’T KonMari: My Princess Diana Bear. That thing was gonna pay my college tuition.

Chub Club

T: When you’re living in America, at the end of the millennium – you are what you eat. Which is why Rosie started the Chub Club, a campaign to get herself and viewers in shape. The motto was “Eat Less and Move More” and basically served as a virtual support group to lose weight. Over 300,000 people joined, and was a staple on Rosie’s show. She’d invite Chub Club members to the show, discuss the right foods to eat and try out exercise tips. If I wasn’t a tween at the time, I definitely would try to do this for the swag alone (I think there was swag, at least).

M: I love how no-fuss this idea is. There are no weird things with tracking carbs or fats (it was the 90s) and you didn’t have to do Billy Blanks. Everyone on a diet in 1999 had to do Billy Blanks workouts before this. That’s just how it was.

Being Kissable

M: Doesn’t ring a bell? Here, let me help. Scope did a poll that named Rosie one of the least-kissable celebrities. Yeah. If you think the media is nasty now, the 90s were possibly worse. Anyway, Listerine disagreed and donated $1,000 for every celebrity guest who kissed Rosie. In the end, it was a lot of money.

Being Crafty

T: This video includes two of our favorite people in the world. And if you’re wondering what the timeline is here, LG appeared on Rosie’s very last episode in 2002 aka season two of Gilmore Girls. Yeah, I know it’s weird. BUT THIS IS A DELIGHT. “Shells are very big for Summer 2002”.

Anyways, Rosie was so cool during this time that she made even crafting hip (amongst the suburban mom demo and kids under the age of 14). She even had a segment called Rosie’s Craft Corner, and she’d usually have either her official show crafter named Christina, I think? Or a celeb guest, as seen above. No lie, I bought Mod Podge solely because Rosie decoupaged all the things, so natch, I did too.

Being Irish-American

M: Rosie freaking loved being Irish-American, and it was so refreshing to have a celebrity cultural spokesperson who wasn’t a Kennedy. (Yeah, lots of celebs are part-Irish, but there’s a difference between being raised doing Irish dance and going to the AOH verses just knowing some great-great-great grandparent was supposed to be from there). So did Rosie sometimes say things were “Irish” things when they were really just her family (I recall cold sores and having a short upper body)? Sure, but who cares? She helped maintain the Irish reputation for being hilarious and affable, and we all owe her a Guinness for that.

Donny Osmond

T: Donny Osmond, former teen heartthrob and longtime Mormon singing icon, made a cutting joke about Rosie’s larger figure, and she got on the outs with him. In an effort to apologize, he dressed as a large puppy and sang his signature song, Puppy Love. It was obviously rude of him to make the joke, but the result is great, and I can’t say that I didn’t have a crush on him twenty years too late during this era.

M: Thanks to Rosie, I saw Donny Osmond appear at the Hill Cumorah pageant, a big Mormon to-do. Readers? I am not Mormon.

Her BFFs Jackie and Jeanie

M: When we watched Rosie as tweens, we imagined (a) that we’d be friends with our childhood besties forever and (b) if we ever got famous, they were coming with us. That’s why we loved how Rosie would bring her buddies onto her show and chat about them in the same way one might name-drop a celebrity.

Lapels

M: OK. It was a 90s thing. But the fact remains that the woman loved a pantsuit with big lapels. Do you remember those giant brooches that moms and teachers would wear back then? You NEEDED those lapels.

Her Barbie

M: Can you blame her?

T: Is that a card deck labelled “Activity Zone!”??? Because I need it.

Having A Footrest

M: Rosie’s desk had a slide-out footrest for short guests. She LOVED offering it to people, and it came in handy because a lot of Rosie’s guests were children or, for whatever reason, small adults.

When people did her desk

T: I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Rosie had a contest in which different people would design her desk and it lasted maybe a week or two. Here’s one featuring a real habitrail with real hamsters. Other themes included Star Wars, Hot Wheels and an entire desk made out of Legos. As a 12 year old, this desk was #goals.

HamilTour in the Greatest City in the World

It’s finally happened. You bought your Hamilton tickets,  and if you’re like us, you were willing to wait for it (we booked ours 11 months in advance). You’re finally in the Greatest City In The World and by 8pm you will be in the room where it happens. Assuming you’ve already been to New York a number of times and don’t need to hit the biggest tourist attractions, you might want to take in some A.Ham-based sites. Here’s a slate of activities that you can fit in before showtime, answering the ever-important HamFan questions: would it be a good place for a duel? Is it a good place to cry? And, should you throw away your shot to see it?

Alexander Hamilton: Striver, Statesman, Scoundrel at NYPL

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Would it be a good place for a duel?

NO. It is very small and crowded, which means you would hit somebody, A, and also couldn’t get the requisite steps apart, B.

Is it a good place to cry?

Pretty good, yeah. We both got emotional looking at a letter from Alexander to Eliza strictly because an informational plaque contained the word “orphanage.” Also libraries are quiet and respectful, so it sort of feels like crying at church which is not at all an unusual comparison to make, right?

a letter from alex to angelica aka MY DEAREST,

a letter from alex to angelica aka MY DEAREST,

Should you throw away your shot?

No. It’s FREE and primary sources are a total riot. Plus I think the makers of the exhibit threw in some sly Hamilton refs in some of the documentation.

THE REYNOLDS PAMPHLET

THE REYNOLDS PAMPHLET

Also, if you’re looking for Hamilton-based books and tchotchkes, the library store is A+.

Alexander Hamilton statue in Central Park

Would it be a good place for a duel?

It’s not bad.  There are people around but it’s not packed and there’s a lot of space. In terms of places to duel within Manhattan, it’s probably one of the better ones.

Is it a good place to cry?

It didn’t make us emotional and we wouldn’t necessarily cry there.

Should you throw away your shot?

If you happen to be nearby at the MET or something, swing on by, but otherwise it’s just a (nice) statute.

Trinity Church

Would it be a good place for a duel?

You know, we talked about it and we felt that it would feel disrespectful to the dead to duel there. On the other hand, at night it would be a good place for a duel for spooky atmospheric reasons, if you’re going to really go for it.

Is it a good place to cry?

Listen. We cried at  the word “orphanage” on Eliza’s plaque and the pennies on her grave and on her being placed in front of Hamilton’s and the marker next to them explaining that Philip is buried in the same cemetery but the location is unknown and at Angelica being around the other side of the church.

Also it’s a cemetery. That’s probably the most normal place anyone could ever cry.

angelica RIP

angelica RIP

Should you throw away your shot?

No, we found it emotionally gratifying to see where Hamilton lies and it connects you to the real history of real people.

Hamilton: An American Musical

Would it be a good place for a duel?

It would kind of be redundant, no?

Is it a good place to cry?

If you DON’T cry at the Richard Rodgers, I’m seriously concerned for your mental health.
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Should you throw away your shot?

If you even get a shot to be inside the room where it happens, you’re more than lucky to be alive right now. So, the answer is and always will be a resounding no.

Non-Hamilton Side Trips

A few bonus places we made it to this trip:

The Best Pizza – Rubirosa

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Would it be a good place for a duel?

OK you know those restaurants that are really hip in the front, then there’s a back room that’s for, presumably, less front-of-house appropriate customers (ahem, us), then somehow MORE rooms after that? That was this place. It was deceptively large so there is probably enough space to duel. Plus, this pizza would make a phenomenal last meal. Also the cruelest thing I can think of is to shoot somebody right before they were able to eat a slice from here.

Is it a good place to cry?

No, it’s like Pizza Disney. I have never heard so many people refer to something as “the best” of ANYTHING. I bet it’s an honor just to work there because you know that you are helping people to have the best pizza of their lives. You could cry happy tears like at a wedding, I suppose.

Should you throw away your shot?

Absolutely not, this was the best pizza I could ever hope to have.

New York’s Finest…. Audio Tour – Central Park

We’ve both been to Central Park, but neither of us have done any sort of a tour or read any sort of a guidebook. This time we pulled out our cell phones, resigned ourselves to racking up a ton of data, and listened to the audio tour narrated by notable New Yorkers . It’s extra fun to guess who is going to be up next.

Would it be a good place for a duel?

This really depends. Would I duel on the bow bridge, about which Julia Louis-Dreyfus made a Beau Bridges joke in her segment? Probably not. Too crowded, and a raucous group of schoolchildren who wouldn’t SIT DOWN in their paddleboats would really tempt me to throw away my shot.  But would I duel at The Mall, about which Jerry Seinfeld did not ask what the deal was? Yeah, maybe. Once I stopped recreating key scenes from When Harry Met Sally.

Is it a good place to cry?

It didn’t make us want to cry. However, if you were adjacent to Central Park and had to escape somewhere to cry, I think you could find a good spot. Maybe from the audio tour.

Should you throw away your shot?

If you have time, get there and do some sort of tour or guidebook thing. We couldn’t believe how much we missed on other visits.

All the Art – The Met

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Would it be a good place for a duel?

The Met is one of the more popular museums in NYC, so there would be a lot of witnesses. But also, due to the high number of valuable pieces of art, if you accidentally shoot a bullet through a Degas, that might be worse than losing the actual duel. If you live, that is.

Also, if you are going to duel first you need to decide how much you’re going to pay to get in (there’s a “suggested donation” and we are not the kind of people who would stiff a museum, but also $25 was a lot since we could only spend a few hours there, so it is a very stressful situation for a very particular kind of person). Do you tell the ticket lady you’ll pay $0 and face the shame of it, or do you pay $25 and hope that you live to take a leisurely stroll through the 19th Century European Impressionist galleries?

PS, it’s also an excellent location to take photos pretending that you’re Blair Waldorf on the front steps. We did so for a WHILE.

Is it a good place to cry?

I think in general, people don’t frown upon being emotional and moved by art, so it’s acceptable here.
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I should note that I actually did tear up when a class of 8-year-old schoolchildren was discussing a mural, and it was honestly just because this one little girl was so smart and articulate that I was just very happy for her.

Should you throw away your shot?

No! We were sad we didn’t have enough time to go through the entire museum and thoughtfully look at all the pieces. Like Disneyland, The Met needs one of those two-day passes so you can see everything.

Working on my (To)Night (Show) Cheese – 30 Rock


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Would it be a good place for a duel?

No. Security is so tight at 30 Rock that they won’t even let you take a picture inside the screening room where they show you a video on the history of NBC before the actual tour. 

Is it a good place to cry?

Yes, if you’re the type who gets emo at seeing the Saturday Night Live set IRL.

Should you throw away your shot?

Meh – the tour is fine, and worth the $30ish ticket. If you plan ahead, you can get into a taping of Late Night or the Tonight Show like we did, and that was a lifelong dream come true.  The taping was free, but getting a high five from Jimmy himself – priceless.

 

Where Are They Now: All The Matildas

When Roald Dahl first introduced Matilda to the world in 1988, he probably never thought about just how long the legacy would last, and in so many different mediums. An imagination as great as Matilda Wormwood herself could have never dreamed that kids and adults all over the world would be in love with this character and her world through a beloved movie and a hit musical that are popular all over the world. Moreover, Roald Dahl probably would have never guessed just how many times his cherished Matilda would be brought to life by actors for years to come. Over the past 28 years, Matilda has been played by a number of girls in various adaptations, and here’s a look at those talented Wormwoods and where they are now.

Matilda – Musical, 1990

Annabelle Lanyon

Annabelle Lanyon was a child actress who is best known for playing Dora Keith in the British mini-series of Anne of Avonlea, as pictured here. But in 1990, when she was 29, she starred as Matilda in the first musical adaptation of the book. I couldn’t find pix of her in the production, but since she’s supposed to be like 7, I figured this photo would suffice. Anyways, the musical featured music and lyrics by Ken Howard and Alan Blaiklev and toured theaters around the UK. Reviews were mixed and unfortunately lost in the public’s conscious forever. Annabelle quit acting in 1992, but returned in 2000 and is currently filming two movies.

Matilda – Movie, 1996

Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson is probably the best known actress for playing little Matilda, thanks to the movie we’ve been talking about all week. By the time she filmed Matilda, Mara already had Mrs. Doubtfire and Miracle on 34th Street under her belt, but her mother died of breast cancer while they were filming Matilda. This life-changing event made her lose her passion for acting, and has only been in front of the camera several times ever since. She graduated from NYU in 2009, and is v active on the Interwebz with Twitter and podcasts (Welcome to Night Vale) etc. Just this week, on Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, she released an autobiography called Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame.

Matilda – Radio Programme, 2009

Lauren Mote

BBC Radio 4, being super British, featured a dramatized version of Matilda for a classic serial as part of the BBC Christmas season. Voice actress Lauren Mote, who was 12 at the time, took on the lead in the two-part series, which you can maybe eventually watch on their website.

Matilda – Musical, 2010

The Royal Shakespeare Company commissioned a second musical adaptation of the book and found much better success thanks in part to a book by Dennis Kelly and music and lyrics by Tim Minchin. It premiered in the West End in 2011 and ended up winning seven Olivier Awards, including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical for Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbull (yes, you read that right) and a tie between all four tiny Matildas for Best Actress in a Musical. The show opened on Broadway in 2013 and found similar success at the Tonys, winning four trophies and a special prize for all four tiny Matildas for Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre. Since then, there have been tours in both the US and Australia, and a production in Toronto which opened in July. But for those looking to see the show on Broadway, you only have a few months left – the production is closing on January 1st.

West End
Cleo Demetriou

Before Matilda, Cleo appeared in productions of The Sound of Music (Gretl, duh), the ENRON musical and Les Mis (Young Cosette, duh). She is now 15 (and a legit teen, per Instagram), and stars in a British sitcom called So Awkward.

Kerry Ingram

Kerry’s only theatre expereience before Matilda was in a West End revival of Oliver!, but her career only got bigger after starring in Matilda by scoring roles in hit TV shows like Wolf Hall and British medical soap (think Grey’s) Doctors. But you may know her as Shireen Baratheon in Game of Thrones, a show we definitely are huge fans of and understand completely.

Sophia Kiely

Sophia’s only professional credit to date is Matilda, and it seems she stepped out of the spotlight after taking her final bow. So much so that she doesn’t have any social media accounts (that I can easily Google). The only thing we know for sure is that she is four years older than when she played Matilda.

Eleanor Worthington Cox

Eleanor continues to work on the stage, appearing in London productions of To Kill A Mockingbird, Bugsy Malone and Tomcat. On British TV she’s starred in shows like Cucumber, Hetty Feather, and The Enfield Haunting, which earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the British Academy Television Awards.

Broadway
Sophia Gennusa

After Matilda, Sophia was back on Broadway last year in the musical adaptation of Doctor Zhivago – which only lasted three weeks. But her greatest accomplishment yet – being the singer for the current Sesame Street theme song.

Oona Laurence

Prior to Matilda, Oona played “Spiteful Mean Girl #4” on Louie, but she may be the most successful Matilda yet. After leaving the show, she booked roles on Law & Order: SVU, Blindspot, and Orange Is The New Black, playing 10-year-old Tiffany aka Pennsatucky in a flashback. Over the past year, she has worked with stars like Sarah Silverman (I Smile Back), Janeane Garofalo (Little Boxes), Robert Redford (Pete’s Dragon), Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw) and Mila Kunis (Bad Moms). So yeah, she’s doin OK.

Bailey Ryon

Bailey starred in other notable family faves before Matilda, like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. These days, she is focusing on her career as a dancer, and performs with hte Susquehanna Youth Ballet in Pennsylvania.

Milly Shapiro

Matilda still stands as Milly’s lone professional credit, but she and her sister Abigail are hoping to be the next Lennon and Maisy by posting performances on YouTube. Check them out singing Defying Gravity at 54 Below.

What ‘Cats’ Characters Are Probably Like, Based On Their Names

Can Jellicles? We’ll find out next week, when the Cats revival either winds Broadway up like a ball of yarn … or coughs up a big ‘ol hairball.

Cats is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 musical based on T.S. Eliot’s book about cat poems. Turn that sentence over in your head a bit. Theater-goers WENT IN FOR THIS. In the early 90s my mom took my three older siblings to Cats on Broadway and left me at home. The tales of the amazing theater experience convinced me that the stage was a place where anything can happen – I mean, Rum Tum Tugger himself stroked my brother (or something. I don’t exactly know because I wasn’t invited).  I exacted my revenge by making my siblings attend dozens of my plays and musicals over the following years, most of which were not good. The cast recording was a constant in our car and kitchen, and in first grade I could sing you verse after verse about the “heavyside layer,” which I don’t remember but was probably cat death? When I was 6 I finally saw the national touring company. In a bit of family lore, my father walked into the lobby during intermission with a bemused expression, shaking his head. “I don’t get it,” he said.

Now I’m a full-grown adult, and to be quite honest, I don’t get it either. My memories of actors Fosse-dancing while wearing giant carpet suits have faded into the mist just like the memories that one sad cat sang about. I remember snippets of songs and the feeling of something magical happening on stage, but I look at the list of characters and musical numbers and none of it makes sense to me. In the spirit of the new Cats production, here’s what the kitty characters are probably like, based on their weird names alone.

Mungojerrie

Okay, so this has to be a racist minstrel-y caricature from the 1930s,  yet also still a cat.

Rumpleteazer

You know how in really old movies they couldn’t say someone was gay so they’d use all these weird euphemisms instead? That.

Like, (and here you have to do a voice like you’re from an early talkie): “he’s a confirmed bachelor and a real rumpleteazer.”

Jennyanydots

Neighborhood snob thinks she’s cute.

Grizabella

Meth Gabriella.

Need further clarification? OK Take whatever Gabriella means to you:

Then make it meth:

Gus the Theatre Cat

This really old guy who hangs around a bar in the theater district and when people start talking about Hamilton, he chimes in with stories about, like, the original run of Company. Very into Sondheim. Sits with one foot propped up on his knee. Wears that one kind of hat. (I’m visualizing a cat Harold Prince.)

Mr. Mistoffelees

 

A pretentious college professor who wears jackets with suede patches on the elbows.

Rum Tum Tugger

Oh, goodness. Like a tubby booze uncle. And not the fun one, but the one where you’re just praying that no hot-button topics come up when he’s around because you know it’s going to be awful. Says stuff he knows you disagree with because he’s trying to start an argument, then keeps badgering you when you don’t react. A superfan of a failing NFL franchise, but all he does is complain about it.

Jellicle Cats

Sneaky assholes.

When I was a kid, my grandmother said she didn’t like cats because you could feel their bones squirming under their skin (which is also how I visualized myself as a scrawny, not-put-together child). That’s what jellicle cats are. You pick them up and their skin just slinks over their bones until they’ve wriggled out of your arms.

Bombalurina

That neighbor you had as a child who was Italian or Cuban, wore a housecoat, and her main things were obsessively sweeping her front steps and tending the marigolds around her Bathtub Madonna.

(Author’s note: describes roughly 10% of my childhood neighbors.)

Old Deuteronomy

The gruff, wizened old neighbor who was actually a cool writer in the 1960s and who teaches the protagonist, a teenaged white boy, about the world, the pen and himself.
Except the cat version of that.

Skimbleshanks

Eugene from Grease. Neville Longbottom. Samuel ‘Screech’ Powers. All those guys on Big Bang Theory. The geeks on Freaks and Geeks. Steve Urkel. Skimbleshanks.

Macavity

One of those lacrosse bros who has gone by his last name for so long that you can never remember what his first name was. (It’s Brent. Or Shane. Or Bryce.)

Quaxo

A third-tier sidekick who appears in one of the less-good chapters of Don Quixote or The Canterbury Tales or Pilgrim’s Progress, and then Jo March used it as a reference and you never understood it until you read the source book in college.

Bustopher

A cat rapper. Began his career as a kitten, when he was known as Lil Bustopher.

By the way, the characters’ full name in the musical is Bustopher Jones and his first album as an adult act was called The Bustopher Jones EP.

Jellylorum

False. This isn’t a name. It’s one of those weird, but non-fatal, things that can happen when a baby is brand new. “He’s mostly healthy, they just want to keep him in the hospital for the few days because he has jellylorum.”

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So You’re Seeing A Hamilton Understudy*? I’m Jealous.

You’ve been anticipating the day for months. You paid a significant amount of money to be in the room where it happens and see the most talked about musical in years. It’s won Tonys and a Grammy and other countless theater awards – the creator literally was named a genius for the masterpiece – then the day finally comes. And it’s July 10th. Or basically any day after July 10th. You missed the original Broadway cast by a day.

In the span of a week, four of Hamilton’s principal stars, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo and Daveed Diggs all took their final bow while Renee Elise Goldsberry also announced she’d be leaving this fall. All of them departed to pursue other opportunities and legitimately take a break. Are you one of the people upset about this? Well apparently you’re not alone.

And while I guess I expected there to be some backlash, I didn’t expect to see this headline the other day:

First of all, this isn’t a review – Samantha Tomaszewski wrote an article for the New York Post (established none other by the bastard, orphan, son of a whore Alexander Hamilton) in which audience members from the first post-Lin & co. spouted off their frustration on missing the original Broadway cast by a day.

“I’m extremely disappointed because I really want to see Lin-Manuel Miranda. It’s like going to see a band you like but they get someone else to be the lead singer. You’re not really getting what you originally paid for.” Ok, Kiara.

Ashley and Matt from Florida paid $500 each for orchestra seats in December, and were also disappointed. “When we found out…  it was a little heartbreaking. We considered selling them but figured we would be at a loss because no one would want to pay as much to see the show without Lin.”

These two quotes are the most negative ones in the article. Neither said it was a “total letdown”. I guess Samantha took a page out of A. Ham’s book of dramatized writing.

But to play Devil’s Advocate, I get it though. I will pay to see shows only because someone famous that iI love is in it. I just went to a concert version of West Side Story solely because Jeremy Jordan and Angelica Schuyler-to-be Karen Olivo were starring in it. Sorry, I’ll pick up those names I just dropped. Had it been people I wasn’t interested in, I wouldn’t have paid money to see a 1957 musical that’s been done a million. But Hamilton is different.

Molly & I are seeing Hamilton in October (#Hamtober) and my mother recently asked me, “Isn’t the guy who wrote the show leaving?” (loose translation from Tagalog). I said yes, but that seeing Lin wasn’t the only reason I bought the tickets. Would I love to have seen Lin in the role he created? Yes. Would it have been amazing to see Leslie and Daveed and maybe Renee in the parts they won Tonys for? Of course. But Hamilton is a musical that transcends the people who are in it. Obviously stellar writing needs a stellar vessel to act it out, but if you have a story and score as good as Hamilton, the actors playing the parts are almost secondary. If you’re mad you’re not seeing Lin, you’re missing the point.

Second, you have to remember most of these cast members have been with the show a long time. Just because Hamilton has received acclaim over the past year and more so in the past few months with all its awards, it doesn’t mean the actors just started their respective runs. For starters, Lin has been working on the show for SEVEN YEARS. And in 2013, when it was titled The Hamilton Mixtape, Daveed, Leslie and Chris Jackson assumed their roles of Lafayette/Jefferson, Aaron Burr, and George Washington respectively, in a workshop production at Vassar.

Lin and Chris Jackson at the 2013 Hamilton Mixtape workshop at Vassar

By 2015, the show became the Hamilton it is now (for the most part), and debuted Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. That version picked up all the remaining Original Broadway Cast members, including Renee, Phillipa, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Anthony Ramos and Oak Onaodowan. A lot of the ensemble members have also been in the company since the Public, and in case you’re a pedestrian Broadway fan strictly because of Hamilton, these folks do 8 shows a week. That’s more times than there are days in the week. And it’s the same show over and over again. Lest us forget that this is also a physically and emotionally demanding show. While some might think otherwise, doing a full on production for 3 hours, sometimes twice in one day, it can be draining. You try dying twice in one day as Laurens/Phillip. Four deaths if you’re doing a matinee.

Third, and probably most importantly, put faith in the casting directors for the show. They’re the ones who picked out the OBC in the first place, and they’re responsible for the current bench on Hamilton is way, way, deep. We touched on it during #HamilWeek when discussing the ensemble members/swings – these are people who have had leading roles in shows Wicked and Rent. They’re not just timid backup singers. They’re integral cogs to the entire Hamilton machine and often times know more than one role.

Actually, let’s back up a bit. *Understudy = every person that steps into a leading role. The actors filling in while parts like Lafyette/Jefferson are being recast have been around the block a few hundred times.

There are three types of cast members you need to get to know:

Understudy: Regular performing members of the cast (usually ensemble members) who also cover other roles for when the regular actors are on vacation or can’t perform at the last minute. Hamxample: Ensemble member Carleigh Bettiol is an understudy for Eliza, while other ensemble members like Sydney James Harcourt and Austin Smith both understudy Burr and Washington, among others. A tweaked version to this is a Stand-By, like Alysha Deslorieux, whose job is to just understudy the three principal female roles of Eliza, Angelica and Peggy/Maria.

Alternate: An actor scheduled to play a role for a set number of performances per week. Hamxample: Javier Munoz (current A.Ham/#Javilton) was Lin’s alternate on Sunday afternoons, and 2 shows a week toward the end of his run.

Swing: Swings understudy ensemble tracks, and possibly principal roles, which is the case for Hamilton. Hamxample: The ultimate swing is Andrew Chappelle, who covers Lafayette/Jefferson, Madison/Mulligan, Laurens/Phillip, Burr, King George, and all the male ensemble tracks (I believe).

Anyway, all this to say, these stand-bys and alternates and swings whose name appear on the little insert of your Playbill aren’t just randos. They’re talented folks who have worked hard to memorize MULTIPLE roles. Sure, they’re not who you’re accustomed to per the soundtrack, but you’ve already listened to that a million times. What about hearing it in a while new way? It might even make you see the show differently. These are people who bring a freshness to the role and new excitement, since they don’t do it every single night. It’s part of the magic of live theatre. With a different cast of multiple possibilities, it’s truly a new show every time, not to mention the actors’ performances vary depending on the audience’s energy and reactions as well.

Much like everyone else who has tickets for the rest of the show’s run, we’re not going to see the OBC in its full version, and I’m okay with that. You should be too. I remember seeing Wicked on Broadway a little over a year and a half after it premiered, and although it was sans Idina and Kristin, it starred Tony nominee Jennifer Laura Thompson as Glinda and vocal gymnast Shoshana Bean as Elphaba and I was still in awe. So much so that I legit cried 90% of the time. The music, story and outstanding performances all were stellar, and made me forget I wasn’t seeing the OBC.

We as theatergoers owe it to these actors to respect their craft, as corny as that may sound. The “understudies” already have the added pressure of proving to the audience that they’re worthy, so why add fuel to the fire? Imagine you had a friend in the chorus of a Broadway show, and they suddenly get called up to play the leading role for that night’s performance. You wouldn’t complain. You wouldn’t compare them to how good the regular actor is. You’d be proud and support them, because you know they have so much talent to share that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

So to Kiara and Ashley and Matt – I am jealous of you. I am jealous you got to see these standbys/swings/understudies/alternates take center stage. I am jealous you are even seeing the show at all. And I’m sure there are millions more who are jealous too. I hope you get what you paid for.

She Loves Me, She Really Loves Me

Last week, history was made when the musical revival of She Loves Me became the first ever Broadway show to be live streamed on the Internet. Through BroadwayHD, fans from all over the world could tune in to watch Laura Benanti hit those high notes and Chuck from Chuck sing. Period. And if you missed it, you still have a couple more days to catch it on demand before it goes away on Thursday, July 7th, which is a few days before it closes in New York.

For $9.99 you can watch She Loves Me in the comfort of your own home, which is what I did the other day and let me tell you it was worth every PayPal penny. Sometimes classic musicals like this show aren’t as enjoyable to me (I just saw 42nd Street for the first time and it’s unsurprisingly (?) anti-feminist?). However, I am pleased to report that She Loves Me is a delightful musical that deserves all the acclaim it’s receiving. Is it the same as being in The Room Where It Happens™ and seeing Jane Krakowski to the splits IRL? Obviously not. Nothing can ever compare to live theatre, but this is the best alternative for folks like me who will never get the chance to see the show in its current production live.

So if you’re reading this before July 7th, I recommend taking a peak of what you’re in for then enjoy the show on BroadwayHD – this sounds like a sponsored post but *bible*, it’s not. If you’re reading this after the 7th, here’s some highlights of what you missed.

On The Verge of Being Catfished

She Loves Me is a 1963 musical based on the play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László – which is why the show takes place in Budapest. Surprisingly enough, it takes place in a Parfumerie where employees Georg and Amalia are constantly at odds. Separately, they are secretly part of a Lonely Hearts Club letter exchange, and they’ve each found love with an anonymous pen pal. Unbeknowst to them, they are in love with each other!

Does this seem like a Catfish waiting for to happen? Absolutely. Amalia doesn’t even know her romantic pen pal’s name. She lit’rally says, “I couldn’t love him better if I knew his name.” Come on. NEV?? WHERE YOU AT? If this wasn’t a musical made in 1963, I definitely would’ve thought Georg was going to be a 16-year-old insecure Reddit user whose Friday night prank turned spiraled out of control.

Also, if this plot sounds familiar it’s because You’ve Got Mail and the 1940 movie The Shop Around the Corner are both based on Parfumerie.

Let Me Borrow That Top

Every single item of clothing worn on stage was to die for. I love the classy era of 1930s fashion, and costume designer Jeff Mahshie did an outstanding job lit’rally from head to toe. The menswear was exquisite but it was all the women’s fashions that had me gagging.

Let Me Be Your Star

17-year-old Nicholas Barasch plays 17-year-old Arpad Laszlo, so it’s really a stretch for him. Arpad is a delivery boy who aims to be a clerk at the Parfumerie and Nick does a great job selling it. This kid is goin’ places, I tell ya.

The Set Design That Beat Hamilton

I am such a sucker for Art Deco, and this set design is so freaking dreamy. The show begins with the outside of the store, and it literally opens up to the inside of the Parfumerie, and that’s pretty much it. There are some other small set pieces that roll in, but the store is the main event. The inside of the shop is so intricate and somehow cozy – it brings you back to the time where you would have to go to a specialty store like this just to buy perfume. For you kids out there, it’s like if the perfume counter at Macy’s had its own store front. These days, the only stand-alone perfume stores are at the mall with a really bored guy trying to pedal gift sets of Britney Spears’ Curious.

Customers Are The Worst

“I’m an idiot. At least I’m an idiot with a job!” 

Amalia and Georg work with a fella named Ladislav Sipos, who is easily my favorite character. His big number is called Perspective, which is basically a lesson in customer service. The lesson being ‘The customer is always right, so shut up and be grateful you have a job’. It is amazing. He serves as Georg’s confidant and provides comic relief throughout the show and Michael McGrath is great in the role. The version of Perspective above is from the 1993 revival by Lee Wilkof, but you’ll get the picture.

Girl Power

Meanwhile, Jane Krakowski is also an employee of the shop, and besides the fact her main motivation is finding love with a man, her character of Ilona is a great representative of Girl Power. She has a thing with her charming co-worker Steven Kodaly, played by the equally charming and talented Gavin Creel. There’s an entire scene where he hits on her and gets her to go out with him and she goes into the splits, and when she finally agrees, he cancels their date in favor of a different date. Ilona is not having it and her song I Resolve is all about not letting a man do that to her ever again. In 1963, this number was probably more powerful than it is now, but it’s still a great example of trusting your “feminine intuition” and not letting a man take advantage of you and bring you down. Ilona eventually finds love and it turns into that Date Auction episode of Saved by the Bell where Lisa Turtle pretends to be a snobby intellectual to go out with the cute smart guy.

Plot Twist!

I don’t want to ruin the entire show for you if you plan on watching it, but just know that as predictable as some of these older musicals can be, I did NOT see one storyline coming, which involves the shop owner, Mr. Maraczek. It may involve another lesson on gun safety.

Zachary Levi y’all

Zachary Levi is the best! For real! Fun fact: this role was originally going to be played by Ted Mosby aka Josh Radnor, who played Georg in the 2011 concert verison of She Loves Me. He had to pull out, and Zach took his place, but turned out for the best because Zach does such an exceptional job at playing this charming, lovesick guy.

Laura Benanti y’all

She Loves Me is the perfect fit for Laura Benanti (who we previously professed our love for), since she is the ultimate soprano. Her voice suits Amalia’s to a tee, and she is so good she makes it look effortless.

Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti y’all

If you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail, or basically any romantic comedy ever made, you can guess who She Loves Me ends. I lit’rally said outloud, ‘I’m into this” re: Amalia and Georg’s blossoming relationship, and I stand by that. These two need to do another musical ASAP.