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NYC Trip Report Day 4

Our final day in the Big Apple (check out part one and part two of the trip report!) was probably the most uneventful in terms of the touristy stuff, but it was one of my favorite days I have ever spent in the city. When I travel, I like to hang like a local, and that doesn’t typically happen when you are on a tour with students, but we got a small taste of local NYC life on our final day and I loved every minute of it.

We started the day with a walk through Washington Square Park and the West Village. I decided if I ever move to New York, I’m going to have to live in the Village, which means I am going to have to be a millionaire. Gonna need to work on that one.

The park has a really stunning view of the new World Trade Center building. We had seen it before on our water taxi tour, but I almost liked this view better.
After the Village, we went and indulged our inner nerds. First, we stopped at Forbidden Planet, which is every comic book lover’s dream. I am not a comic book lover, but I have enough nerd in me and I was able to walk away with some cool Harry Potter swag and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle travel mug for the hubs.
And then….we went to one of my new favorite places on the entire planet: Strand Bookshop. Holy moly you guys. Words cannot express how much I loved this store and I only had time to explore one floor (I think there are four all together). Outside on the sidewalk is a huge array of used books, most of them for $2.00. I found some fun new reads for me, plus an awesome out of print photography book about Hollywood stars at home in the 1950’s for my mom (she loves that stuff since she grew up in Hollywood around then). In addition to literally thousands of amazing books, Strand also carries so much book nerd goodness I had trouble controlling myself. Bags, mugs, notecards…it’s pure luck I made it out of there without spending my entire life’s savings.
Lucky for me, the students I was with are just as into books as I am (one of those things that makes my teacher heart sing) and we spent a good portion of our afternoon in the hotel reading our new purchases. I did manage to drag my lazy butt up for long enough to go check out the Star Wars Costume Exhibit at the Discovery Center in Times Square. Super cool, you should go check it out!
For dinner that night we went to Junior’s and I had my tenth grilled cheese of the week, but also a delicious vanilla milkshake (gotta get that calcium in).
Then we headed out for our final show of the trip, Aladdin. I have so many fond memories associated with Aladdin and I loved every minute of seeing it on Broadway. I’m looking forward to the upcoming tour!
And then it was back to the hotel to get some sleep so we could be up and ready for our plane ride home. This trip was the first time I had been away from Squirt for more than two days, and that was the hardest part about it. I missed my little man (and my husband, of course) so much more than I had anticipated. But overall, it was an amazing trip, one of my favorites and I am so looking forward to the day when I get to share one of my favorite cities with the kiddo!
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Star Wars Costume Exhibit

One of the highlights of our New York trip (for me) was the Star Wars costume exhibit at the Discovery Center in Times Square. The exhibit featured tons of costumes, mainly from the first six films, and it was super cool to see them all up close and personal. I legit am just photo dumping this post because there were so many cool things and I took so many pictures and most of them are self-explanatory (if they aren’t I’ll, you know, explain). But anyway, the Discovery Centers tend to have traveling exhibits so I imagine this one will make its way to places other than NYC so if you have a Discovery Center near you, keep an eye out for this exhibit. It is a must for any Star Wars fan!  I hope you enjoy my poor lighting and sometimes blurry picture tour!

Okay, so side note, Padme/Amidala had probably three times as many costumes on display as all of the other characters combined, and they are so freaking cool, all of them.
Also, this bikini is even smaller in person than it looks in the movie. There is a quote about it from Carrie Fisher that said something along the lines of everyone could see everything when she put it on, and it was super uncomfortable to wear (because in addition to being itsy bitsy it’s all legit made of metal).
So my favorite part was seeing the droids because I felt like I was meeting them in person. I also am a huge fan of Padme’s flowing sunset ombre caftan looking dress that she wore for like 2.5 seconds in one of her movies (2 or 3, can’t remember which since I tend to not watch those ones so much). Definitely a worthwhile experience and if it comes to LA, I will probably go check it out again!

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NYC Trip Report Day 3

Hello friends and welcome to Day Three of my recent trip to the Big Apple (you can catch Day One and Two here). So our first full day in New York was basically the best day of the theater in the history of the world and it was going to take a lot to top that. Theater wise, nothing could compete with seeing Hamilton and Fun Home on the same day, but Day Three was pretty awesome in terms of touristy stuff.

We started the day visiting the New York Public Library, home of Carrie Bradshaw’s failed wedding and surprisingly few books. Turns out the real library is across the street in a not nearly as gorgeous building and this building is mainly used for research and touring (and fancy weddings, apparently). It was very cool to see the building and tour some of the inside, but my favorite part was the gift shop. I didn’t know one could spend $100 in a library, isn’t that shizz supposed to be free? Anyway, I scored some really cool book nerd swag that I love, so that was definitely awesome.

After the library we walked to the Empire State Building. We didn’t have time to go up to the top, which was good because I wouldn’t have wanted to anyway, but we did snap some pics outside. Side note: you have to walk a good two blocks away from the building itself in order to be able to get a good pic.
Then we headed to the Museum of Modern Art, which I was iffy about because I feel like most modern art is weird. And a lot of it was. There was definitely one whole display that was a stool under a shovel that was hanging from the ceiling. Probably worth millions of dollars. Whatevs. We did get to see The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh which was pretty cool.
Then we went for a tour of Lincoln Center, which I truly only enjoyed because our tour guide talked about the end scene from Center Stage being filmed there (though we weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside, which was lame). It was cool, but I really wanted to go backstage and apparently that ain’t happenin’.
On our way back to our hotel I had to stop for my obligatory Dunkin’ coffee with cream and sugar and then take this awesome tourist pic in Times Square. I have to say, I am a little less into Dunkin’ now that it is available here in Cali (though there is not one actually in LA proper, which I find annoying), but it was delicious nonetheless and I needed the pick me up because we had walked like twelve miles during the day and we still had an evening show to go to.
That night we went to see Something Rotten, which was hilarious and amazing and had we not seen Hamilton, probably would have been my favorite show (if you haven’t figured it out yet, I am really freaking into Hamilton). I am a huge Shakespeare fan and a musical theater nerd so I loved trying to figure out all of the references. We got to do a talk back with some of the cast members after which is always fun. I learned that the good tappers actually wear mics on their feet to pick up the sounds from the taps, super cool. I do have to say that Christian Borle (love him on Smash) and Brian d’Arcy James (love him a little less on Smash) did not come out for the talk, which was a bummer. Even if you come out for five seconds and wave, I feel like you gotta put in an appearance when you have a group of students there to talk to you. Uncool.
But loved the show, loved the library, and had a fun day three in NYC!

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Star Wars at the El Capitan Theater

A few weeks ago, the hubs and I went to see Star Wars for the second time and decided to make an event of it and go to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood (we also started off our romantic date night eating at Hooters, since it is the fastest and most affordable restaurant next to the theater, but that’s a whole other story). I love seeing Disney movies at the El Capitan (like the live action Cinderella) because there is always a pre-show and they have super cool exhibits and displays from the movie. Plus, the theater itself is gorgeous and full of history, which is always a bonus.

There were tons of cool things about Star Wars at the El Cap (as the cool kids call it), and these are just some of the highlights. The film is scheduled to run at the theater for just a little bit longer, so if you are in the LA area, make sure you check it out. If you aren’t in the LA area, you can live vicariously through my pics! (Side note: pictures that were imported pre blog change are having some weird formatting issues, so sorry they are small :o(.)
Storm troopers are obviously a must at any Star Wars event…
One of the highlights for me was the Lego displays…
Downstairs in the gallery were several costumes and some props that were used in the making of the film…
Before the movie started, the world famous Rob Richards played tons of Disney favorites on the historic El Capitan organ and the audience was treated to a brief laser light show. One of the other pros of seeing any movie at the El Cap is you get to see a bunch of Disney previews. I am looking forward to the new slate of films set for release in the next couple of months. And yes, I loved Star Wars just as much the second time as I did the first. I might even go see it again!
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NYC Trip Report Days 1 and 2

Hello friends!  Well, I am slowly getting used to my new blogging platform. I think I finally fixed the issue of old links not redirecting, so hopefully you have been able to find what you are looking for. I am still working on some picture formatting issues, so images might look a little wonky still, but please bear with me!

I spent the first week of the new year visiting one of my favorite cities: New York. Given my background in theater, NYC is somewhere I have often thought I might end up living (though after now having been there twice in the winter, I think I will stay in the California sunshine).  Living there does not seem to be in the cards for me, but I am happy to visit as often as I can! This most recent trip was through the school where I teach theater part time, and I went with a small group of students plus some chaperones. Our goal was to see as much theater and as many cool sights as possible and we definitely accomplished that!  Here’s the report from our first couple of days:

We left LAX early in the morning, and it was cold and rainy in Los Angeles and sunny and nice in New York! How often does that happen?

Our first stop in NYC, was Top of the Rock, which is the rooftop levels of the 30 Rock building, which happens to be right across the street from Radio City Music Hall.
Top of the Rock is an amazing place to see the city, especially at night. It is a nice welcome to NYC!
After Top of the Rock, it was California dinner time, so we headed out for some local pizza. It was alright, but certainly not the best pizza I have ever had. Definitely had better in Brooklyn (sorry Manhattanites).
On our second day, we went out on a water taxi tour, which is one of my favorite things to do as you have great views of all the major landmarks of the city. We saw the new World Trade Center building…
The main attraction of the water taxi tour is the Statue of Liberty. I have never gone out to the Statue itself, but I have heard the view from the water is much better since you can actually see the entire statue.
After our water tour, we headed to lunch at Schnippers, where I had my first of like twelve grilled cheese sandwiches throughout our trip. I don’t know why, but everywhere we went, I was craving grilled cheese. It was decent food for being quick and easy.
We were able to see two shows on our first full day in the city, a matinee and an evening performance. It was almost unfortunate that we saw Hamilton first because it made the rest of the shows (which were all great) seem not so amazing. To put it simply, Hamilton is the best show I have ever seen. And I have seen a lot (and worked on a lot). Seriously, it is absolute perfection and I am SO EXCITED that it is coming to Los Angeles in 2017. I cannot wait. If you have the chance to see the original cast, it is so worth it. Buy those $400 tickets, you won’t regret it!
Our evening show was Fun Home, which was also amazing. We scored front row seats at the TKTS booth, which was amazing, especially for a show in the round. The performances were so stellar, and Fun Home is truly a beautiful show. Basically our first day in New York was the most perfect day of theater ever. How often do you get to see two Tony Award Best Musicals (okay, Hamilton hasn’t officially won yet, but it’s pretty much a given) in one day?
Because we got out of our show pretty early, we decided to hit up the M&M World store, which was right across the street from our hotel (the Crowne Plaza in Times Square). I particularly enjoyed the Star Wars display, of course.
After that we called it a night and headed back to our hotel for some much needed rest. It was a perfect day in New York, and one that I am not sure will be replicated ever again!

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Show Review: Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway

If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, get on that!) you know that I spent a few days in New York at the beginning of the month. I was there with a group of students and our goal was to tour as much of the city and see as many shows as possible. It was an exhausting few days, but we had an amazing time (trip report will be coming soon). On our last night we got to see the Broadway production of Aladdin, which I was so excited about. The Aladdin/Lion King/Beauty and the Beast/Little Mermaid years were probably my favorite (possibly because of my age at the time, but also just because they are awesome movies) and Aladdin holds a special place in my heart since I put on the production with my students last year.

The Broadway show follows the same basic storyline as the movie, but has new added music and some new plotlines which really help deepen the characters. We learn that Aladdin has recently lost his mother and is trying to clean up his act by not stealing anymore (unless it’s food, since that’s a necessity and all). Jasmine is as fiery as she is in the movie, which is something I have always loved about her. Jafar is still evil, Iago is still hilarious, and it is of course, the Genie who steals the show.

I loved so many things about this show, and many of them are what we have come to expect from Disney Theatricals. The sets and costumes were absolutely stunning. Given my background in tech theater, I always pay attention to costume changes and set/lighting changes during a show, and this one had a lot and they were flawless.  I loved the new songs that were added to the show, along with the new characters (mostly Aladdin’s three friends). The magic carpet ride was just that, pure magic. It is such a beautiful moment to watch (and seems like basically the best job ever, riding on a magic carpet each night). Courtney Reed was a beautiful Jasmine; I loved her voice (even though she seemed like she was recovering from a cold, she still nailed the high notes).

Adam Jacobs was an amazing Aladdin. His voice is truly gorgeous (as are his abs). Plus, he was super sweet after the show, posing with all the fans and signing lots of autographs.

The true star of the show was Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart, who is the Genie. “Friend Like Me” was the indisputable highlight of the show (though “Whole New World” is a very close second). The stamina of this guy (and the ensemble) was pretty impressive. The cheers at the end of the song went on for a loooong time, it was so good (I always try to applaud for a long time after those kinds of numbers so the actors can catch their breath!). I told him I saw him at D23 and he thought that was cool (at least, in my mind that’s what he thought). He was silly and fun in his interactions with the fans.

Because I tend to be a bit of a critic when it comes to theater, I of course found some things I didn’t love during the show. We had the understudy for Jafar and his performance was lackluster in my book. And since this is a show designed for the whole family, some of the comedy is a bit cheesy and doesn’t necessarily work for the adults in the audience. However, the show is so visually and vocally stunning that these small flaws did not take away from my enjoyment at all. Director Casey Nicholaw is quite the talent (he also directed Something Rotten, which we saw and loved, and is about to have four shows running concurrently on Broadway–not an easy feat). I am really hoping that Squirt is old enough for the theater when the show tours here in California because I think it is the perfect choice for a first Broadway show. The kids in the audience loved it (it was one of my student’s favorites and we also saw Hamilton!), and the adults did too!

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DIY: Star Wars Ears

This post contains affiliate links.

I know I am getting a bit redundant with this comment, but these might be my new favorite ears! Of course since I drank the Star Wars Kool Aid, I had to make a pair of ears to go along with my new found love. And I decided to try something I will not be doing often: fabric covered ears. Seriously y’all, these were time consuming and not easy to make. But hopefully my trials will save you some time should you decide to make a pair of these bad boys for yourself!

Not all of my supplies are pictured for the simple reason that I had to make some of this up as I went. But here’s what I used: Star Wars fabric, sparkly black tulle, a black headband, fabric scissors, craft foam, ear template, black rhinestone trim, super glue, hot glue, spare cardboard (I used a cereal box), and fabric glue. At the bottom of this post you will find links to the products that I used!

First, cut out two ear template shapes from your craft foam.

Turn your fabric upside down and place the foam where you want. I wanted Rey and BB-8 on my ears so I matched up the fabric accordingly.  Put a dab of glue on the middle portion of the ears (where you will fold it around the headband) to secure it in place.

Now comes the hard (and time consuming part). Wrap the fabric around the ear and use the fabric glue to glue it in place.  Because the ear template is an odd shape, the easiest way to do this is to cut the fabric in small strips as you go and glue each one individually. I tried gluing larger pieces and they did not mold to the round shape well. It is going to be a complete pain in the butt to do this, but it looks so much better.

This is what the back of the ear will look like when you are finished gluing.

Use the super glue to attach one cardboard circle to each side of the ear.

I used a combination of the super glue and hot glue to attach the ears to the headband.  It was not easy to get these babies to stay in place, so be patient and use lots of glue on the inside! There are definitely some parts around the edges that are not super smooth, but that’s okay because the next step is to add the trim.

I used the hot glue to add a rhinestone trim around the border. Originally I was going to use ribbon, but the rhinestones were sturdier and held the fabric in place better.

Tuck the ends of the trim inside the ear and secure with more hot glue.

Then use the hot glue to attach your bow (this is the easiest part!). I made the same bow as from my Christmas ears, it is super easy and fast to make.

I LOVE how these came out, though it is going to be a long time before I try to cover another pair of ears with fabric! The good news is I have lots of fabric left over and will have to come up with something else cool to make with it!

Here are some products similar to those I used to make this project:

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