My Musical Theater Education

IMG_9295About four years ago, my husband and I got into the local community theater scene. It was David’s fault, and he dragged me along with him. Since then, we’ve spent 100s of hours being in shows and helping to put on shows and coaxing our children to go to rehearsals because they’re part of this family, damn it, and we do theater.

I’ve always loved musical theater, but I wasn’t plugged into the scene. Like, I knew Cats used to be a thing, and I knew most of the words to Les Mis, but if you asked me to name any current shows or any people currently starring in Broadway shows I would have looked at you blankly.

So, I started taking voice lessons, because if you’re in musicals, you really should know how to sing well. And if you’re taking voice lessons and on the board of a local community theater, I you should know some more musical theater shit, and what was my plan for that?

Well, I decided I would start listening to the Tony nominees for best musical, because that made sense to me as a place to start. And I thought maybe just the ones after 1980, since I already knew a lot of the ones before then; or if I didn’t know them already, they’ve really fallen out of fashion and could wait for round 2 (eventually there will be a round 2).

In the past few months, I’ve listened to all of ones I could find on Spotify–136 musicals–which is most of the Tony winners/nominees since 1980, surprisingly. Spotify is gold for musical theater fans. I mostly did this as work, since I do work that pairs well with listening to music. (Ppssstt: if you’re looking for these musicals on Spotify, I’ve created a Tony Award nominee 1980-now playlist. Some of them are a bit tricky to find.)

It was quite the journey. Sometimes I was bored out of my skull. Sometimes I was laughing under my breath so hard I counted it as my ab workout for the day. Sometimes I would sit at my desk and hold back tears I was so moved.

I’m still not an expert, but now I open up the sheet music anthologies I’d bought before, and I now know almost all the songs. I’m more aware of what’s happening on Broadway. I recognize a few Broadway stars’ names and their voices.

If you’re looking for a few recommendations, here’s what I liked. This isn’t some critical review. I still don’t actually know anything about anything. This are just the ones I personally enjoyed listening to:

First, my favorite genre: quirky, dark, macabre, funny stuff:

  • The Addams Family Musical
  • A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
  • Matilda (probably my favorite musical of all time)
  • Spamalot
  • Urinetown
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Funny, satiric, smart:

  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
  • Avenue Q
  • The Book of Mormon
  • Bring It On
  • City of Angels
  • Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
  • Hairspray
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  • Mama Mia
  • The Producers
  • Shrek the Musical
  • The Wedding Singer
  • The Drowsy Chaperone
  • A Christmas Story

Moving Stories

  • Amour
  • Blood Brothers
  • Cyrano: The Musical
  • Fun Home
  • Hamilton (so, so good. so good. Hasn’t been nominated yet, but will be)
  • Kiss of the Spider Woman
  • Les Miserables
  • Miss Saigon
  • Next to Normal
  • Parade
  • Spring Awakening
  • Rent
  • Billy Elliot the Musical
  • The Color Purple

Everything else I happened to like:

  • Aladdin
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Catch Me if You Can
  • Dreamgirls
  • The Full Monty
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • In the Heights
  • Into the Woods
  • Jane Eyre
  • The Lion King
  • Newsies
  • Once
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • The Secret Garden
  • Sunday in the Park with George
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie
  • Wicked

Our Recent Trip to Disneyland

We recently went to Disney for 3 1/2 days. I only carried my camera for one of those days, because when you’re walking for eight miles a day, the last thing you want is more things to carry.

I didn’t take very many photos–I was too distracted. However, these are a few of my favorites. We gave the kids each a souvenir budget, and most of these shots are capturing what they bought. R2D2 Mouse Ears for Xander and Griffin, a new t-shirt for Max, and a bow necklace for Aubrey.

This was my third visit to Disneyland, and they got me this time. I was not a convert before, but now I think I’m going to have to go back every few years, which is really going to be a pain in the ass.

First Kiss Printable

2001DavidBald (2)
David, sporting the beard

David and I just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary.

Our story is a . . . how can I put this? . . . Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending. It was practically love at first site. Well, not exactly. Lust-with-the-promise-of-love at first site. But not really first site. Because it took me a few hours to look past the beard.

Point being, this quote resonated with me when I read it, because I fell in love with my husband with the

BoyCrazy
Do I look like I’m expecting this? No, no, I do not.

first kiss that first day. It was shocking, to be honest. I was just 19 and had just gone to college, and here I was, a girl in love with this guy. However, I do expect it to keep on going through my life. My love has a very good track record.

If you like this quote too, I’ve made a pdf download. Just click on the link: first-kiss

Spiked Earring Collection

I have a thing for spikes.

My perfect outfit is one that makes me feel like I could kick someone’s ass. Granted, this usually involves heels, and those are only ass-kicking gear in movies and male fantasy–and my wardrobe, apparently.

But, beyond heels and a lot of black, it can also involve spikes. Because what else says “I can kick your ass” like spikes?

These are some spike earrings I found while exploring Etsy. I could rock any of these pairs happily. Give me these and a studded jacket and I’d be out the door.

Shell Spike Earrings White Turquoise Earrings
EDGY RAW QUARTZ Spike Earrings Long Fake Gauge Earring
Sterling Silver Spike Earrings Spike Earrings, Gold Dipped Earrings
Tiny Spike Stud earrings Herkimer Diamonds and Gold Vermeil Spike Minimalist Threader Earrings

Hand-painted Shower Curtain

I started out with just a few things from Walmart: a simple white fabric shower curtain and two bottles of fabric paint in dark grey.

supplies for hand painted shower curtain

Then it was just a matter of using a quilting ruler and a pencil to draw the lines. If I wanted to be exact about it, I could have used painter’s tape. Instead, I free-handed it, and it has a lovely, almost street-art feel to it, with a lot of “mistakes.”

The finished project hanging in my bathroom:



hand-painted-shower-curtain

A close up of the painted lines:

painted shower curtain

Oh, and a quick before and after. I like the openness the new curtain brings, and the variation in scale as compared to the tiles.

before-and-after-bathroom

What Being a Parent of a Preteen is Really Like or the Great Parfait Debacle

I am >< this close to banning yogurt from our lives forever.

It started innocently enough. My third son, Griffin, age 10, loves yogurt. Like enough to drink a Gogurt down in one go. It’s like watching someone chug milk out of a jug.

We were hungry one day at Disneyland and Griffin wasn’t a fan of the options at the place we were eating. I’m blessed to have four picky eaters, so mealtimes are fun rainbow bunny laughs 100% of the time. When I saw they had parfaits, I was like: I have found it! The solution for this meal!

This was shortsighted of me though. Because it solved that meal a little too well. Griffin loved this Disneyland parfait so much that it set off an obsession. We bought him one at McDonald’s, and it was now over, now that he knew he could get parfaits at locations spaced approximately every 15 miles (and not just one location more than 1000 miles away.) At this point, I was still ignorant to my fate and thought I was simply bringing joy and smiles to my moody preteen. I did not realize I was creating an obsession in my child that would spill into my life for WEEKS. WEEKS.

I am weary.

Griffin has asked in the weeks since we got home from Disney for the supplies to make parfaits. However, since we got home I haven’t done a big grocery store trip. I’ve only done panic shopping. Panic shopping is when I text David in a panic saying that we’re almost out of milk or eggs or bread and David texts me back that he’ll pick some up. Panic shopping does not include ingredients to make anything.

So, no ingredients for parfaits at this point, and two weeks ago, I take pity on him. Since we are running late for our first rehearsal for our new show, I stop to buy a McDonald’s parfait.

Do you see my mistake? I didn’t realize it at first either. But, if you do something with your kid on the first day of an activity, they might be inclined to think it’s part of that activity. Like a tradition. Or to use a word from the Right, an entitlement.

Big mistake.

Now he is obsessed. Every rehearsal is about How I Did Not Buy Him A Parfait. He comes up to me, leans his head dejected on my arm, and groans, “Parfaaaaaait.” Like multiple times. He’s moody and when I ask what’s wrong, I get the same answer. “Parfaaaait.” The 20 minute drive to rehearsals is filled with his hope that I will stop for a parfait, although I have told him no every day the past two weeks and not given in once, and the drive home is the exact same. A parfait-longing fills the car.

I finally bought the stuff to make parfaits tonight, but fresh blueberries were $7 and strawberries were $5, and we are trying to save for Christmas. So, I got frozen berries. Which was the wrong choice. Griff declared the entire parfait “gross.” I don’t blame him too much, but can we please STOP HAVING OUR LIVES REVOLVE AROUND YOGURT?

Complexity

I’ve been listening to a lot of music lately. Specifically, musicals, but that’s beside the point. Because I love language, music has always been more about the lyrics for me in a way. Give me a clever lyric, and I almost don’t care about the melody. However, I’ve been trying to listen more deeply–listening for the beautiful complexity that’s created by the weaving of the words with the melody and harmonies, the interaction between the vocals and the instrumentals, the interplay of the rhythms and the dynamics.

So often, we’re told to find the beauty in the simple, and while that’s true, there’s beauty to too in the complex. I love looking at a leaf or a blossom from my cherry tree and seeing the complexity of each vein and cell; the chaotic order than nature imposes on life. What at first may look simple may be in reality much more complicated.

I’ve never been one for keeping it simple. It isn’t in me. The routine of my life is simple. I wake up, I go to work, I come home, I check Facebook and Tumblr, I might go to theater rehearsals or work on a project, and then I go to bed. But it’s the complexity of these activities that make them fresh day after day. It’s the challenge of learning my lines or teaching myself a difficult new lace knit stitch while I watch Gilmore Girls again or deciding that I am going to sew my own Edwardian costume for my current show that keeps my life from feeling stale.

I’m not afraid of failing at a complex task. I fail, I learn, I master. And it’s the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction I get at the mastery of whatever I’m doing that drives me to my complicated hobbies.

In the day to day, I’m occasionally too hard on myself for failing to keep it simple, stupid. But, maybe I need to stop. Maybe I should appreciate those moments of complexity and the beauty found there. Maybe some things are better when they’re complex.