Tag Archives: broadway

Friday Link Round-Up | BEDA Day 29

We made it to another Friday, y’all! I’m very much looking forward to this weekend as I have very few plans. Open schedules make me a little nervous sometimes, but this is the last really free weekend I have for a while. I’m going to treat myself and…I don’t know, do laundry and clean my apartment or something. Tomorrow is also the LAST DAY OF BEDA! I honestly can’t believe I’ve actually made it this far. I’m pretty proud of myself, but I’ll save my real #reflections for tomorrow’s post.

Anywho, here are some of my favorite internet reads from this week. Happy Weekend!

“I Lived My Best Life For A Day And Wanted To Die” by Katie Heaney – Buzzfeed

“Why I Had A Breakdown Watching ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'” by Kelsey Miller – Refinery29

“‘Isn’t This Funnier?’ New Girl Creator Liz Meriwether Recalls the Making of the Prince Episode” – Vulture

 “Chyna Deserved Better” by Mairead Small Staid – Jezebel

“Broadway Shows Get the Point! Again!” by Eric Grode – New York Times

“The Brooklyn Getaway // A Gal’s Trip to NYC” – The Overseas Escape

Five Great Places to Eat in New York’s Theatre District | BEDA Day 9

I see a lot of theatre, and as such, spend a lot of time in New York’s Theatre District. The West 40s are littered with restaurants, bars, and cafes catering to the millions of theatre-goers passing through the area each year. And I’ve been to…a lot of them.

Almost any type of cuisine you can think of is available just minutes from Times Square, and the amount of choices can be pretty overwhelming. It’s easy to just say “screw it” and end up at an overpriced chain restaurant right across the street from your theatre. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with convenience – I used to frequent happy hour at Jekyll & Hyde before it closed (RIP, old friend) – but there are some great places just a few blocks away from the main drag. The next time you’re in town for a show, check out some of these spots for a bite.

For Pre-Matinee Brunch: Pigalle 

This cute French bistro at 48th Street & 8th Avenue is popular with both tourists and the theatre community, and for good reason. Pigalle’s brunch menu features classic French dishes like croque monsieur and breakfast staples like challah french toast. I recently came here before a matinee of School of Rock and enjoyed a light, fluffy waffle and way too much coffee. I also enjoyed pretending I was in Smash for an hour, as the infamous NBC musical drama shot several scenes here. For the record, I’m Team Ivy.

For When Your Parents Are in Town: Esca

This restaurant, a joint venture from Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lydia Bastianich, and David Pasternack, has become a family favorite in recent months. Esca specializes in Southern Italian seafood, particularly of the raw variety. Their crudo, or raw fish, is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. If you’re not feeling too adventurous, Esca also offers plenty of classic pasta dishes. They also have plenty of options for the gluten-free crowd. Naturally, this place is a little pricey, so it’s definitely a  good place to bring your folks for dinner if they’re feeling generous.

For a Cold Winter’s Night: Obao

I am kind of obsessed with this Thai and Vietnamese spot in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. Plenty of New York eateries have trendy interiors, but can’t quite deliver on the culinary aspect. Obao’s trendy ambiance is almost as spectacular as it’s menu of noodles, barbecue, and cocktails. Their Pho Bo is guaranteed to warm you up after a day of standing in the rain trying to get Hamilton tickets. Best of all, everything is really reasonably priced. Their lunch special (appetizer and entree for $9) is one of the best deals in the city, at least in my mind.

For Post-Show Cocktails: Bea

There must be something about the corner of 43rd Street & 9th Avenue, seeing as two spots on my list are located there. Bea, unlike Esca, is a little more casual and known for their menu of creative cocktails and bar bites. It’s not quite as rowdy as some of the other bars in the area, which makes it great for post-show discussions over a “Tottenville Tea” or “Lavender Monk.” Their flatbreads are also fantastic if you’re feeling a bit peckish after four hours of Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

For Something Sweet: Schmackary’s

Schmackary’s, home to some of the best cookies in New York, quickly became a big part of my theatre-going routine after I moved here last year. After a show, if it’s not completely freezing out, you’ll usually find me waiting in line here for a Classic Chocolate Chip cookie and a decaf tea. Schmackary’s cookies are always fresh and never overly-sweet. Their cookies come in a huge range of flavors (including gluten and nut-free options), so you’ll definitely find something to tempt your tastebuds.

Hopefully, you’re feeling a little more equipped to handle the culinary jungle that is the Theatre District and Hell’s Kitchen. New Yorkers, let me know your favorite places to eat in the area. I’m always looking for new places to check out!

5 Amazing Podcasts for Your Commute | BEDA Day 5

As a fan of funny people talking in my ear on my way to work, I’ve really been enjoying the Podcast Renaissance. So many smart, funny people are launching their own shows on a range of topics. Not only do these shows make me laugh, they are also incredible educational tools that showcase the work of talented up-and-coming writers. My cup (or really, my Overcast feed) runneth over. Here are 5 podcasts I’ve been obsessed with lately.

The Ensemblist
Want to know what really happens behind the scenes at a Broadway show? Ever wonder what life is like for the ensemble members #werking it in that big musical number? The Ensemblist podcast, hosted by Nikka Graff Lanzarone and Mo Brady aims to give listeners “an inside look at all aspects of being on Broadway.” The show features interviews with seasoned Broadway professionals and newbies alike, with each episode focusing on one aspect of the business of show, such as the unions, being a parent and a performer, and live TV musicals. Each episode usually clocks in at less than 30 minutes, which, incidentally, is perfectly timed to my commute.

You Must Remember This
Guys, WHY did it take me so long to listen to this show? You Must Remember This, hosted by Karina Longworth, tells the secret history of old Hollywood, one episode at a time. I’m a huge nerd for Hollywood History, so I pretty much lost my mind the first time I listened to an episode. This season focuses on the Hollywood Blacklist, a direct result of the Communist witch hunts that took place after World War II. These stories are fascinating and still incredibly important. I’m loving this series so far.

Can I Pet Your Dog?
This podcast from Renee Colvert and Allegra Ringo was basically made for me. Each episode features these two funny ladies talking about their unabashed love for dogs. They also invite awesome guests like Noel Wells, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Lesli Margherita on to talk about their favorite dogs. Most of the time I just want to talk about dogs, so this show is perfect. Also, it’s part of the comedy and culture behemoth that is the Maximum Fun network, so you know it’s good.

Scriptnotes
I’ve been a Scriptnotes fan for going on 3 years now, and it remains one of the most consistently awesome podcasts in my feed. Hosted by screenwriters Craig Mazin and John August, Scriptnotes features conversations on the TV and film industry, writing craft, and basically everything interesting to screenwriters. When I was completing my undergrad program, the podcast was a great supplement to my classes. Now that I’m out of school, each episode keeps me up-to-date on the biz and motivates me to keep working. So thanks for that, John and Craig.

Spirits
Okay, so I’m obviously biased because this podcast is hosted by two of my friends, Amanda McLoughlin and Julia Schifini. However, I’d probably still recommend it even if I didn’t know them. In this podcast, Amanda and Julia enjoy some adult beverages and talk about mythology, legends, and lore. They only have a few episodes under their belts, but I’ve learned more in these episodes than I ever knew before about the myths and legends of Greece, Ireland, and the Philippines. Plus, they’re both hilarious. If you support them on Patreon (shameless plug), you’ll receive drink recipes catered to each episode. Yum.

What podcasts have you been loving recently? Let me know in comments! I’m always looking for new shows to add to my feed.  

The Incredible Motivating Power of Hamilton

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with running. In elementary school, I dreaded running laps in gym class, and tried to come up with as many excuses as possible to get out of the mile run test. The first time I finished the test without stopping, I thought I was having a heart attack. I avoided running as much as possible from then on. Still, I’d always get a little envious of my friends on the cross country team. A nice run in the woods after school seemed appealing, but at what cost? I knew I was never going to be a runner, so I never actively pursued it.
Until last week.

Last Friday I woke up early and went to the gym, as I usually aspire to do 2 to 3 times a week. As most of my usual cardio machines were taken, I went for the treadmill. I started running. And then I kept running. After a while I realized I had run a full mile, and I didn’t feel like I was about to collapse and die. “Who am I?” I thought. “Are we in the end times?”

This dramatic change of character was all (well, at least 80%) thanks to the release of the Hamilton original cast recording. As I made my way through each brilliantly-written, produced and performed number, I just wanted to keep going. I was involved in the show, reliving each scene and step in my head. Once I finished up my whole walk/run cardio portion, I actually felt really good and ready to take on the day. Weird, right?

There’s something about this show that makes me want to do something. Alexander Hamilton, or at least the version portrayed in Hamilton, was incredibly prolific throughout his relatively short life. He was always working on something, writing like he was “running out of time.” He wrote 51 of the 85 essays that make up the Federalist Papers, over the course of six months. That amount of writing of that caliber blows my mind. I’ll be impressed if I write that many blog posts over the next six months.

I first saw Hamilton in previews at the Public Theater back in January (#humblebrag). I cried profusely at the end, which almost never happens. It is amazing to watch something come together over 6 years, even if it’s just as a bystander on the internet. But I didn’t know it was going to be that good. More than that, it came into my life at a time when I really needed it. I was just starting out in a new job and wasn’t sure where it was going to take me. When a new assistant position opened up, “My Shot” started playing on a loop in my head and I knew I had to go for it. And I’m incredibly glad I did.

So thank you, Lin-Manuel, for sharing this story. I know I’ll keep coming back to this cast recording for years when I need a kick in the pants, words of comfort, or just something to dance around to in my apartment. And, of course, it will always be in heavy rotation at the gym.

Broadway Christmas | Broadway Flea Market 2015 and Elsie Fest

I’ll admit to being a little skeptical when Elsie Fest was announced for the same day as the annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction. Two major Broadway events in one day? Won’t one take away from the other? Despite this, I found the idea of a “Coachella for showtunes” intriguing to say the least. I decided to go for it. Take my money, Darren Criss.

Broadway Bears from Fun Home, The King & I, and Hand to God for auction.

Broadway Bears from Fun Home, The King & I, and Hand to God for auction.

I started out my day in Times Square, navigating the throngs of shoppers at the Broadway Flea Market. I look forward to this event every year. Much like your average flea market, you never know who you’ll run into or which hidden treasures you’ll find. If, in your mind, hidden treasure equates to vintage Playbills from the original Broadway production of Chess, then this event is for you. I shared my haul from this year in the video below. I’m particularly excited about the shot glass.

The Broadway Flea isn’t just an amazing fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. It also acts as a massive gathering of the theatre community. Stars, community leaders, producers, and fans alike get together to celebrate the new season and our favorite shows. I saw lots of friends reunite, taking a break from their busy schedules to scour the tables together for the perfect find. It all makes for a super-fun (albeit sweaty) day out in midtown.

The Hudson from JBL Live.

The Hudson from JBL Live.

After a few hours, I tore myself away from the flea market and headed over to JBL Live for Elsie Fest. I really didn’t know what to expect heading in, but the set-up was similar to many outdoor concerts I’d been to before: stage, merch booths, porta potties. In addition to the standards, Darren Criss & Co. brought in a couple of food trucks and set up beer garden/piano bar on the opposite end of the bar (sponsored by the legendary West Village haunt, Marie’s Crisis). My friends and I scouted out a spot in the back where we could lay down a picnic blanket and set up base camp for the day.

Aaron Tveit

Tiny Aaron Tveit

Bringing showtunes out of the theatre and into a concert setting like that of Elsie Fest is tricky, but I think everyone pulled it off really well. Some of the acts seemed more tailored to a smaller venue like 54 Below, but most adapted to the huge stage pretty well. Aaron Tveit opened his set with a rocking rendition of “I’m Alive” from Next to Normal, Leslie Odom Jr. turned “Cheer Up Charlie” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory into a soulful R&B ballad, and Darren Criss closed out the show with a punk cover of “Cabaret.” Plus, the whole Starkid gang got together to perform numbers from the hit parody musicals, most notably “Gotta Get Back to Hogwarts” from A Very Potter Musical.

When you go see a show, there’s really no opportunity to get up and dance to your favorite songs like you might at home (unless you’re seeing Mamma Mia). Elsie Fest gave us theatre dorks the opportunity to do just that, to relax and celebrate our favorite shows and performers. One of my favorite parts of the day was bonding with a bunch of rad ladies in the food truck line over Hamilton and more. That’s really the best part of any fan gathering and why I keep going to them. I’m sure Elsie Fest will be even better next year. I know I’ll be back.

Five Reasons Why Fall is the Superior Season

I have a confession to make. I, Charlotte Dow, am a basic fall bitch.

Tomorrow is the first day of fall and I couldn’t be more excited. Don’t get me wrong, every season has its perks. My fragile constitution just can’t handle the extremes of summer and winter. I much prefer the more temperate, in-betweeny seasons of spring and fall. Since spring comes with allergies that have me sniveling for weeks, that leaves fall as the supreme. I feel like fall never really got the respect it deserved until recently. Now every #brand cashes in on the change of seasons well before the calendar even turns to September. I don’t even mind the fall-sploitation. Bring on the pumpkin-flavored everything.

Not convinced? Here are five reasons why fall is the superior season.

1. New TV Shows! New Theatre! New Everything!

The drop in temperature gives us all plenty of excuses to stay inside and enjoy an avalanche of new entertainment. September and October are chock full of season and series premieres on TV. I’m particularly looking forward to the returns of The Leftovers and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Luckily, they both air on Sundays, so I can balance the completely grim with the completely silly. Plus, as I mentioned in my Broadway on a budget post, the new theatre season has plenty to offer. Between Allegiance, Spring Awakening, Fiddler on the Roof, and King Charles III, my sippy cup full of theatre wine runneth over.

2. Dat Fall Foliage, Tho

While I still live in the northeast, I feel like I haven’t seen fall in its full glory since I moved to the city. The lack of trees is a bit of a problem and I haven’t had a ton of chances to go frolic in a pumpkin patch (or whatever it is that country folk do this time of year). This year, I’m determined to get in some quality time with the changing landscape. The vibrance of the fall colors up here make the brutal winters almost worth it. Almost.

3. HALLOWEEN

I mean, this should be reason enough to love fall. Yeah, putting together a costume (and plans) for Halloween tends to stress me out, but the night is so fun that I don’t even care. I’m not a huge fan of horror, but I love getting a little spooky. I’m so ready for some witchy-themed drinks, Hocus Pocus reruns, and thinkpieces on the occult. Plus, adorably-packaged candy never really gets old.

4. Peak Sweater Season

Once we hit about mid-October, I start rocking my cold-weather uniform: boots, leggings/pants, and a comfy sweater. I’ll admit, this ensemble does kind of lose its charm around February, but fall is a time to enjoy the novelty of being fully-covered and cozy. After months of freezing in my over air-conditioned office, I can wear something warm without sweating through my commute. I truly thrive in jewel-toned cashmere.

5. Pumpkin. Beer.

Do I really need to justify this one?

Now that I’ve convinced you all of autumn’s superiority, what are you looking forward to this season? If you’re in New York, Buzzfeed has compiled a list of killer fall activities in and around the city.

I have truly proved myself basic. Pass me a PSL.

An “Expert’s” Guide to Doing Broadway On a Budget

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It’s almost that time, kids. In a few weeks, exciting new productions will be popping up all over the Great White Way. Personally, I’m incredibly excited for the upcoming season. Productions like Hamilton, Allegiance, and the revival of Spring Awakening are bringing fantastic stories and much-needed diversity to Broadway. How do you keep up with the season without losing your shirt? Here are some of my favorite ways to catch a show on a budget.

Cheap

The TKTS booths – located in Times Square, South Street Seaport, and Downtown Brooklyn – have been the go-to outlets for discount theatre tickets for years. Head to your location of choice early in the day to grab same-day tickets at up to 50% off face value. Since availability varies every day, TKTS is a great way to go if you’re not too picky about which show you want to see. I’d recommend downloading the TKTS app as well for real-time updates on ticket availability.

You can also save a great deal of money by simply planning ahead. Contrary to popular belief, not all Broadway tickets have a face value of $100+. Mezzanine seats for weekday performances can cost as little as $35. If you can buy your seats directly from the box office and avoid online fees, even better.

Cheaper

The TodayTix app has been a true game-changer for me. This app offers discounted tickets to almost every show in New York up to a week in advance. Buying tickets for a show 3 days ahead of time is about as spontaneous as I get, so TodayTix is perfect for me. The app also runs e-lotteries for shows like On the Town and Fun Home, offering heavily discounted tickets to winners. There is a service fee for TodayTix purchases (roughly $10 per ticket), so do keep that in mind when perusing the app. Otherwise, this is by far my favorite way to snag a ticket.

If you’re under the age of 30 (let’s be real, if you’re reading this blog, you probably are), there are even more ways to get discount tickets in advance. My TDF membership is one of the best investments I’ve made since moving to New York. TDF offers members of certain demographics (students, teachers, recent grads, seniors, members of the armed forces, etc.) discount tickets to select performances of plays, musicals, concerts, cabaret performances, and more for just $30 a year. While selection is sometimes limited, tickets are never more than $50 each. Plus, your membership supports TDF’s amazing theatre education and outreach programs. Non-profit theatre companies like Roundabout and Manhattan Theatre Club also offer heavily-discounted tickets to young theatregoers. Sign up and keep an eye on your email to find out when these seats go on sale.

Cheapest

Most Broadway shows offer a limited number of discounted tickets through a rush every day, depending on availability. In many cases you can get a great seat for under $40 by simply showing up to the box office early on the day of the show. Rushing can be a bit of a crap shoot. During the busy seasons (the holidays, post-Tonys) you’ll need to get in line before the box office opens to secure your spot. If you really want to try your luck, many of the hottest shows on Broadway (Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Wicked) run a lottery for discounted tickets. Head to the theatre about two and a half hours before curtain to get your name in the drawing. While lottery tickets are probably the least certain way to get tickets, the experience itself can be pretty fun. You can find more information on Broadway rush policies here.

With the average theatre ticket price climbing into the triple digits, it’s nice to know that there are still ways to take in a show without going into crippling debt. Have you tried any of these services? What did you see? Share your experiences in the comments!