Tag Archives: music

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.

The 3 Best Indie Albums…Of My Middle School Years

 

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The ladies who taught me all I know about music.

The majority of my favorite musical acts were most active around 2003 and 2004. When I was in middle school. What does that say about me? Don’t answer that.

I spent a lot of time on my own in my early teens, lost in the world of my headphones. I spent my afternoons combing through iTunes, looking for my new favorite musical act. They couldn’t sound like the pop artists and emo bands the rest of the school was listening to, but they still had to be palatable for my 13-year-old brain. I was in a band with a group of awesome, tuned-in girls who would make me mix CDs and lend me copies of SPIN magazine, turning me on to the next big thing. I was far from cool, but at least my iTunes library didn’t suck.

I kept looking for new music as I got older, but I’d always come back to the indie hits of the early aughts. I still do. I hate to sound like an old fart but music was just so good then. The acts that debuted around then are also still active and making great stuff. I mean, have you heard the new Brandon Flowers album? It’s amazing.

In honor of my decidedly dated taste in music, here are some of the albums Middle School Charlotte was rocking out to from 2003 to 2006.

Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand (2003)

If my memory serves me, I believe I first heard Franz Ferdinand in the car with my dad, heading home from a day at Coney Island. I could just be combining formative memories here, but bear with me. “Take Me Out” was unlike anything I’d ever heard before, but still sounded so familiar. Between me and my friend group, this album got a ton of play. We giggled over “Darts of Pleasure,” danced like crazy to “This Ffffire,” and commiserated over all the boys and girls we hated to “The Dark of the Matinee.” I’ve since seen the Glasgow boys play four times in three different countries. My love for this band has outlasted a good portion of my relationships. Good choice, Middle School Charlotte.

The Killers, Sam’s Town (2006)

Technically, this album came out when I was in high school, but I hadn’t matured that much upon entering freshman year. We’ll count it. Sam’s Town was actually the first Killers album I bought and I drained my iPod battery more than once listening to it on repeat. At the time I really clung to the album’s strong theme of growing up in (and getting out of) a small town. Today, I love how big every song on this album sounds. I can’t really find a better way to describe it. Sam’s Town didn’t get great reviews when it first debuted, but now it’s popping up on all these “underrated album” lists. Welcome to the party, people. Glad you’re coming around. Have some guac.

Arcade Fire, Funeral (2004)

I will never not love this album. If you told me today that Win Butler sacrificed a cage full of bunnies during the recording process, a) I wouldn’t be entirely surprised, and b) I would still be obsessed. Arcade Fire can write songs that are perfect for tiny basement hangs and huge stadium concerts at the same time. This has to be some kind of dark magic. Funeral totally blew my middle school mind, and I find something new every time I give it a listen.

It’s one thing for me to rave on about these tunes, but I’d rather just let you hear them for yourself. Check out the Spotify playlist below with some of my favorite indie jams of middle school. Share some of your favorites songs of yesteryear in the comments!

Bethesda

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“This angel. She’s my favorite angel. I like them best when they’re statuary. They commemorate death but suggest a world without dying. They are made of the heaviest things on earth, stone and iron, they weigh tons but they’re winged, they are engines and instruments of flight.” – Tony Kushner, Angels in America

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During my junior year of college, I spent six months working at a theater in Philadelphia. I started about a week after their production of Angels in America opened and was highly encouraged to see the show (all six hours of it).

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The utter enormity of this piece really changed the way I looked at theatre forever. I realized that a play could be both extravagant and intimate. It broke all the rules that had been ingrained in my brain since my first playwriting class. It gave me so much hope and is still a source of inspiration.

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Bethesda Fountain, located in Central Park, plays a huge part in Angels, and yet it was one of those places I hadn’t truly visited in my many trips to the city. On a gorgeous day last August, I decided to fix it (and bring my camera along).

The fountain is truly magnificent, and you can see why it attracts so many visitors on days like this one. It’s also not far from the iconic Loeb Boathouse, where you can take a rowboat for a spin on the pond.

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The terrace directly across from the fountain features these gorgeous tiled ceilings and plenty of room for artists and visitors alike. On this particular afternoon I caught some buskers taking advantage of the space’s interesting acoustics to play some gospel tunes.

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Though I haven’t had a ton of time to get back to the park yet this season, I plan to in the coming weeks. The fact that Central Park exists and continues to thrive is truly a testament to what this city is capable of and it makes me incredibly excited to live here.

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