favorite Broadway musicals

The Reasons These Shows are My Favorite Broadway Musicals

 

Let’s talk about the reasons these shows are my favorite Broadway musicals. I adore Broadway musicals.  I admit it happily and freely with wild abandon. How do you choose which is your  favorite Broadway musical?

Last weekend we attended the University of Kansas production of Next to Normal (which was well done, I might add) and this Saturday we are seeing American in Paris at the Starlight Theatre.

For seven years,  my husband and I took tour groups of  students and families to New York.  We thought it would be a fitting way for our daughters to be introduced to the city if, in fact, they wanted to pursue a performing career.

Consequently, we saw many musicals while in NYC–twenty-one to be exact.

Broadway and West 34th St.

Favorite Musicals

On occasion, people ask me what are some of my favorite musicals which I’ve especially enjoyed attending.  Here they are in no particular order:

The Phantom of the Opera ( I’ve seen Phantom at least four times. However, a gal I performed with in Columbia, MO had been part of the cast at one time and  was able to take us backstage afterward.)

The Lion King (Took a tour and saw the costumes, masks and set up close and personal. Seen it twice–visually stunning.)

Wicked (We saw Wicked before it was popular and prior to the Tonys.  Got to see Kristen and Edina, too. I heard today Wicked has surpassed Phantom of the Opera as the second longest running musical on Broadway.) Read here:

http://www.playbill.com/article/wicked-surpasses-the-phantom-of-the-opera-as-second-highest-grossing-show-in-broadway-history

Les Mis ( I have seen Les Mis several times, but one performance included my student Becca Ayers in the cast.)

The Drowsy Chaperone (I laughed and laughed. This is one I’d like to direct.  It’s my kind of humor.)

Newsies (What can I say?  It was as much fun to see our kids (with tears in their eyes and  broad smiles)  meeting the cast afterwards as it was to see the show.)

Oklahoma!, Revival (A fella, Justin Bohon, who I directed once in Music Man in Columbia, MO portrayed Will Parker. We were all so proud to be able to say we knew someone in the production.)

If you are interested in advice about youth theatre productions to direct, check out this post:https://wordpress.com/post/dramamommaspeaks.com/550  

Schubert Alley

South Pacific, Revival  (Again, Becca Ayera was in the show. Got to see Kelly O’Hara, too.)

Mary Poppins (Oh my gosh, Mary flew right over us at the end of the show.  I wept.)

Rocky (Who’d think a musical about a boxer could be memorable? When the boxing ring was placed in the audience and Rocky boxed right in front of us, I was awe struck–so clever.)

Chicago (Our first tour was in March, less than a year after 9-11.  I will never forget how anxious we felt touring NYC, but Chicago distracted us from our worries and assuaged our fears of being in the city.  How?  Long legged female dancers and fabulous music!)

Why do I label them Broadway musicals?  Because it’s difficult to get your show to Broadway, like nearly impossible.  If your show is a. good enough b. backed by solid producers and c. timely or universal I think you have more an a chance to get there.  Just my opinion…..

What are your favorite Broadway musicals?

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

 

 

 

This is What the Arts do for You

This is what the Arts can do for you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is What the Arts do for You

You know this is my favorite subject!

I gave my theatre appreciation class their final assignment.  They nearly had a nervous breakdown.

Student: I’m not creative.  I can’t possibly do this. I’m a softball player.

Me:  How do you know?  You haven’t even tried.

Student:  I know me.

Me:  Do you listen to music?

Student:  Yeah.

Me:  Have you ever designed sound before?

Student:  I don’t even know what that is.

Me:  Right.  How about you research what a sound designer does before you decide if you can do this.  I purposely gave you choices in this assignment so that you could find one which you were most comfortable accomplishing.

Student:  (forlornly)  Ok…

Although she gave me a forlorn look, I know this young woman well enough to know she’ll try.


This is what the Arts can do for you

My goal is for these young people to see theatre as more than a bunch of actors in films.  Luckily this semester,, they enjoyed most of the videos I showed them. And they enjoyed seeing a live production as well.  Several students even attended productions on their own (okay, it’s a class requirement, but still…)

One of the outcomes of course is to explore “the collaborative nature of theatre”.

I thought an assignment (set, costume, props, or sound) for a particular play (in this case, “The Importance of Being Earnest”) would be an excellent way to learn about the process of creative collaboration.

The students must research the responsibilities of their chosen designer position, create powerpoint, design, find fabric swatches or paint chips, choosen pre and post show music or make two props.  Lastly, they must present their project to the class.

They will evaluate their learning near the end of the semester.  That’s when the project will do its magic, I’m hoping. Let’s see if the kids notice any differences in themselves after the project.  I’m hoping they’ll come away from it

What they don’t know yet is I plan to throw a kink in the works next week.  As the director of the imaginary show, I gave them my concept and color palette.  I haven’t decided what I want to throw at them, but they need to learn to be flexible and open minded.

Besides, I hold the gradebook (mwahhaha….)

These students are mostly high school kids, graduating very soon, who are taking the class for college credit. They want absolutes and to regurgitate the information through a series of tests.  They have seniorities like crazy. Right now they are hanging on by their fingernails.

I could feel the stress level rise when I assigned this project.

arts b

They don’t like changes.  They grow impatient with I change due dates or chapter assignments even though I’m very understanding when they were confused and didn’t turn in their work on time.  (My fault, really.)

This will be an interesting couple of weeks.

I’ll be back to share the students’ evaluations of the experience.  Wish us luck.

Gift Guide for Your Favorite Theatre Geek

graduate bear

Wow, it’s April all ready!

It seems like once we pass Valentine’s day time moves a lot faster.

Today, I noticed graduation cards at my local pharmacy.  I always forget graduation is in mid-May.

The high school students in my college classes are quick to share the number of classes  they have before they are finished.  Funny, the other students don’t want to know how much time is left in the semester–they are panicked about finishing all their assignments in time.

Anyway…………..

Each year near graudation, people ask me for suggestions of a good gift for a theatre lover. 

Here are a few suggestions for you:

      1. Tickets to a Broadway play, musical or to attend a touring company production of the graduate’s favorite show.  Most of our students are on tight budgets and having free tickets to see a show would be heaven for them.

     2.  DVD’s of plays or musicals

     3.  A year long membership to BroadwayHD.com. Do you know of this company? They are gaining popularity with their Netflix-like approach to Broadway plays and musicals. These are live performance which have been video recorded by professionals. They are awesome!

     4.  A biography on your graduate’s favorite actor or actress. Just about every actor and actress a student would be familiar with will have a biography.

     5.  Find out your graduate’s taste in stage makeup and purchase some for them in their particular shades or colors.

     6.  Make up a basket, a “care package” for the graduate to use the next next time she is in a show.  Fill it with things like cough drops, deodorant, makeup wipes, a box of tissues, hard candy, throat spray, bandaids, a can of hairspray, a water bottle, a trade magazine (like Stagelight magazine https://www.stagelightmagazine.com) a pen and journal, etc.

      7.  Have a tee shirt quilt made. You can find companies who will create it for you by checking on line.  Most theatre kids have scads of show tee shirts.  I had a friend of mine make a quilt for my daughter.  She LOVED it!  She dragged it off to college and it finally wore about five years ago (she’s twenty-nine.)

     8. A gift card to a particular dance supply company if your graduate is a dancer or Sheetmusic.com so they can purchase sheet music for auditions.

     9. A glitzy picture frame is fun. Obviously, theatre geeks have lots of photos.

    10. Just a plain old VISA gift card is nice, too!

One of my favorite high school graduation gifts was an umbrella.  It was a great gift.  It never occurred to me I would be walking to class in the rain. Ha! (naive me)  I can’t even tell you how many times that wonderful umbrella came into use.  I think I wore it out!

graduate bear

Do you have favorite graduation gift memories?  I’d love to hear them.  Contact me here or at dhcbaldwin@gmail. com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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Dear Evan Hansen

Like “Dear Evan Hansen”? Then You’ll Love This News

A behind the scenes book of the making of the Tony award winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen is coming out in the fall.  This is wonderful!  This came through my email from Playbill.com. The title character, Evan Hansen, is a high school senior with a social anxiety disorder who finds himself amid the turmoil that follows a classmate’s death. The plot is timely and spot on.

awkward boy

Read on:

“Grand Central Publishing told The Associated Press that it will release a new book titled Dear Evan Hansen: Through the Window November 21.

The new book is billed as a “behind-the-scenes” account of the making of the Tony-winning musical, written by the creative team of Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul, and will include personal memories, photographs, unreleased lyrics, and the Dear Evan Hansen libretto.

Dear Evan Hansen: Through the Window is available for pre-order here DearEvanHansenBook.com

The announcement follows the musical’s success at the 71st Annual Tony Awards in June, where it was the most-awarded production of the evening. The show, about a high school student longing for acceptance, was nominated for nine Tonys and won in six categories, including Best Musical.

Ben Platt took home the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his emotional performance in the show’s title role, while Rachel Bay Jones won for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for her performance as his mother Heidi. Oscar winners Pasek and Paul also took home their first Tony Award for Best Original Score, along with playwright Levenson, who won for Best Book of a Musical. Alex Lacamoire won his third Tony for Best Orchestrations, having previously won for Hamilton and In the Heights.”

awkward boy

Such a terrific source for all of us, whether we are drama teachers are simply lovers of Broadway musicals.  I look forward to seeing this book, don’t you?

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or my website DeborahBaldwin.net

http://www.playbill.com/article/steven-levenson-benj-pasek-and-justin-paul-writing-dear-evan-hansen-book

 

 

 

Bumbling Bea: The First Chapter

BB chapter 16

There has been a lot of traffic on the blog lately and I can’t help but wonder if folks are wondering about my book, Bumbling Bea. So, here is chapter one:

Chapter One

It was Peter’s fault.

“P!” I yelled to get his attention, “do I look like old Macdonald on the farm to you?”

I was splattered all over with the gross stuff. I swear it was already curdling and the entire cafeteria of students could see it. I smelled putrid–like yucky old, blackened, moldy cheese long forgotten in the back of the refrigerator. It made me wretch a little but I still managed to get in his face.

“Why don’t you drink juice or water? Now I smell like I’ve been working in a cheese factory. You’re such a dweeb, P.”

When I was mad at Peter, I called him “P.” He’d been P. ever since we were in kindergarten when he stuck a couple of peas up his nose and had to go to the hospital to get them out. And like those peas, the name stuck. And he was clumsy, BUT only with me. He defended himself like he always did which irritated me.

“Jeez, sorry Beatrice. I didn’t mean to nearly flip over your backpack and spill two miniscule drops of lactose on your precious jacket. It was blocking the aisle between the tables like always. You are so mean these days.” Peter huffed, stomping away from the lunch room.

It wasn’t me speaking to Peter. It was Bumbling Bea. I’ve discovered I have an alter ego who I call Bumbling Bea. Strange and mean thoughts come flying out of my mouth. They didn’t even sound like something I’d think or say! Bumbling Bea hadn’t been around for long, but when she did rear her scary head, it was at the worst times.

One of the most memorable of times Bumbling Bea showed up was when we gave our choir director a tennis racket as a going away present. He was getting married and leaving our school. He was obsessed with tennis and was a pretty decent player. I thought it was neat, even though he had knobby knees and skinny, hairy, Minnie Mouse legs which looked kinda’ weird in his way too short tennis shorts.

I thought of the present when I saw him hitting tennis balls on the tennis court after school one day. He was mumbling something and from seeing his temper in class, I figured it was about his students.

            It was the first time Bumbling Bea arrived. I was class secretary for him (which made me feel super important even though he had a class secretary for every other class, too.) I thought I had power and the other kids listened to me. Bumbling Bea liked that a lot! At lunch one day I was sitting by myself, as usual. I turned to the table with the popular kids sitting behind me. “I think we should buy our music teacher a going away present since he’s getting married and leaving us. How about we give him a tennis racket since he loves the game so much?”

Everyone agreed with me (which was a first) and those who didn’t, gave me a dollar per student donation anyway. If giving money for a teacher’s going away present kept you in or near the popular kids, you gave it. And they did!

I was so excited. I checked out tennis racket prices on the internet, Dave’s Discount and the hardware supply store. Dave’s had the best price. Most everything was less expensive at Dave’s Discount. My Dad told me it was because Dave bought up all the things other businesses couldn’t sell. Dad thought Dave’s had good deals even though sometimes their stuff fell apart after one use. Their price for the tennis racket was awesome and one my class could afford.

Since I found the tennis racket right away, I had a little bit of time left over before Dad picked me up so I looked around at the girls’ clothes. Normally, I didn’t look at your typical girls’ clothes because they were always way too pink and way too fluffy. Not at Dave’s, though! I found a black and white polka dotted bikini swimming suit, matching flip flops and a package of panties—things were so cheap.

“You want me to put them in a Dave’s Discount box, honey?” wondered the clerk lady who smelled like cigarettes and chewing gum.

I heard about the Dave’s Discount boxes before. People used them to store about anything in them after they got them home: extra cat litter, broken toys, a bed for a puppy and so forth. They were sturdy, kind of a brownish tan color with black stripes printed on one side of them and the words “Dave’s Discount” plastered over the stripes.

Being so proud of myself for a. finding the tennis racket and b. buying the bikini, flip flops and panties all by myself, I accepted two boxes instead of one. I mean, they were free, you know? Dad said not to turn away free stuff if anyone at a store ever offered you anything free. I thought Dave’s Discount box was one of those free things he was talking about.

“Mom, we got a deal. The racket only cost thirty-six dollars.” I announced as I arrived home.

“Don’t forget to take off the price tag before you wrap it, Beatrice,” my mom reminded me as she whisked off to teach her art classes.

Mom! Sheesh. Sometimes she thinks I’m a baby…

My brother, Edmund, helped me wrap the box rolling it two or three times in wrapping paper and tying it with gobs of ribbons and a bunch of bows on it. We put the box in another box which went in another box. We thought it was so fun to unwrap when you received one of those sort of presents. Edmund laughed and laughed each time we played the trick on him.

This is so awesome. I said to myself. And when I tell him I chose the present, he will think I’m one of his coolest students for doing this for him.

That was Bumbling Bea talking. You see? Why would it matter whether my teacher thought I was the coolest student he had ever taught during his teaching career? He had thousands of kids he’d taught already and I was a lousy singer.

It was finally time to give the present. On the last day of classes before summer vacation, we usually sang through the year’s music one more time. The whole choir was singing happily, but they kept turning and looking at me. I was singing loud the way I never do because I was so excited about our present. Well, Bumbling Bea was singing exceedingly loud because she thought I was a better singer since I thought up the present.

It was the second time Bumbling Bea appeared.

Finally, the end of the hour came and it was time for the present. I stood lifting my head proudly, “We are sad you are leaving Oak Grove Middle School. We wanted to give you something to remember us when you are off in your new life.” I gave him the big box saying, “So, here is a little something to use to take out your frustrations on your new wife.”

Huh? What was that I said?

I was kinda’ nervous which was unusual for me and it freaked me out. So I tried again. “I meant, here’s a little something to use to take out your frustrations in your new life.”

Oh man. That wasn’t right either.

I tried one more time, “Oh, you know when you have a bad day at your new school and want to strangle your students, you can use this instead.” I cringed.

My teacher stared at me. “I don’t know what you are talking about, Beatrice. I’m never frustrated with my students.” He smiled at the rest of the class and ignored me.

I felt different on the inside of myself. Kinda’ smart aleck-y, but I didn’t know why. Maybe I was way too excited or nervous or awkward? When I am, I do dumb things to cover. It was how I felt that day. I wanted to sound grown up and cool and in charge, but I said three super dumb things to my teacher.

But I did more than say three dumb things.

Way more.

When Edmund and I were wrapping the tennis racket, Edmund’s pet ferret, Bernie, got loose from Edmund’s clutches and darted around my room. We were so busy screaming at Bernie that while trying to catch him, I guess my big fat foot accidentally pushed the box with the tennis racket under my bed. I picked up the other identical box with my new swimming suit, matching flip flops and the package of new panties and wrapped it instead.

Yes, you read it right: it was the box containing my new bikini swimming suit, matching flip flops and the new panties.

NEW PANTIES! NEW PANTIES!

But see, I didn’t know it was the wrong box because I wasn’t looking at my teacher when he finally opened the last box. I was busy picking up the left over wrapping paper.

Somebody whispered, “Beatrice, you left the price tag on the box.”

“Embarrassing,” another snickered.

THE PRICE TAG WAS SHOWING. THE STUPID PRICE TAG WAS STILL ON THE PRESENT.

I looked up and before I knew it, Bumbling Bea quipped, “There’s the price tag. It shows you how much we like you and I wanted you to know all us chipped in for it.”

Again with the dumb statements!

My teacher opened the box and there was no tennis racket.

BUT, there they were: the panties. Oh, the swimming suit and flip flops were there too, but all I saw were the PANTIES. It was as if they grew from a regular size to the size of a goal post on a football field. HUGE.

I stammered, “What? How did those get in there?”

My confused teacher said something to me, but the whole class was laughing so loudly I couldn’t hear him. I grabbed back the box and ran out of class and hid in the girls’ bathroom.

People called me “Panties” for days afterward until my mother heard them one too many times and threatened to call their parents.

Later I got the right present to my teacher but by then every kind of damage had already been done and I still forgot to take the price tag off the stupid present. I gave up.

Peter said later in the summer he saw my teacher hitting balls with our present tennis racket out on the court. He was back in town visiting his mother or something. I guess he hit one ball a little too hard, because the tennis racket’s webbing unraveled and when it fell to the ground, the handle fell apart, too.

Yup. Bumbling Bea steps into my skin right at the wrong time. Lately, there are more times she appears than I have until a crazy girl who wore cat ears visited from Japan. She made me see what I was doing by taking on my bumble-bea-ness herself. It’s all a little scary when you think about it.

 

Dear Music Student, I Recognize You a Mile Away

This is a four part series of posts (this is the fourth). Click here for the other posts:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/11/15/dear-drama-student-i-recognize-you-a-mile-away/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/11/17/dear-dance-student-i-recognize-you-from-a-mile-away/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/11/12/dear-art-student-i-recognize-you-a-mile-away/

I love arts students. They are fun to be around and never fail to entertain you, that’s for sure.  Honestly, they are pretty easy to spot.

These are generalizations and just for fun, to be honest. I asked for a little help from the people who know–teachers, artists, dancers, musicians and directors. This post describes a music student in a tongue in cheek manner. Let’s see if you agree with us.

choir.png

Music students: (thanks to Tim Baldwin, instrumental music teacher)

  • sing all the time, maybe in harmony with others, maybe not but they sing all.the.time

  • play their instrument or if nothing else, they air play their instrument

  • wear ear buds and listen to music all.the.time (are we seeing a pattern here?)

  • if they are in marching band, they walk  heel/toe, heel/toe  in a rolling step

  • they practice constantly (I think some of that is just to hear themselves.)

  • they own band shirts or the trendiest show shirt (right now it would be Hamilton) or don their most favorite musical show shirt (a lot of the girls love Wicked)

  • love Math (which is said to have a strong correlation to music)

  • certain personalities play certain instruments for instance, trumpet players are self assured and cocky, while drummers are raucous, flutes are the sorority girls of the group

  • orchestra students tend to be quiet and very intelligent, but they also love Anime

  • sopranos  can be a little snobbish, altos are more down to earth, tenors are flirtatious and basses are masculine.

    music-kids

Generally, if you are an arts student you are involved in one of the other arts as well.  These kids are very busy and like it that way.

What is most interesting about arts students is their popularity hierarchy within themselves.  If a guy is a tenor and he can sing as high as a female, that makes points for him.

The same goes for a girl who can climb a tall ladder and focus a light on a set.  If you are first chair violinist, you are popular, too or at the very least, respected. If a guy is a bass singer and he can dance, that’s another biggie.  If a girl can tap the heck out of a combination, you are considered “cool”.

However, if you are too serious about your art, the opposite is true.  Although revered, your friends may not even think to invite you to social events because they assume you are more interested in dancing or rehearsing than a pizza.

And anyone who is comical or can make everyone laugh automatically accrues popularity points no matter which art form they love.

Like most interests, there is a fine line to balance.  What is too much and what is not enough?

I appreciate this hierarchy somewhat, because it makes room for everyone in the arts. This popularity has nothing to do with beauty or brawn.  It’s all about talent and hard work. Everyone is an artist if they allow themselves to be.  Look for them. You’ll see.

Which art do you enjoy the most?  I’d love to hear from you.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or Bumblingbea.com