erin condren Teacher’s Lesson Planner Review!

I love planners. I really do. I can’t get enough of them. They are fun, enjoyable and help me stay organized. I love being creative with them and sitting down to plan my life out.

I’m also super picky when it comes to planners. I like things done a certain way, and after seeing one of my friends share the erin condren Teacher’s Lesson Planner, I was intrigued (and a little scared!).

Still, I decided to get it.

First, let me say that I went ALL out. I sat and planned and organized and decided exactly what I would need to be successful with this planner in the upcoming year. I can already tell you that I wish I had started my calendar in August, even though our school year doesn’t start until September.

I added in extra page protectors, and extra checklists, so mine was a little thicker and a little pricier. I did choose to go with a customized cover. I don’t like it as much as I thought I would, but it is fine. In the sample, the name went straight across the whole side, which I liked, and as you can see above, my name does not.

You can watch my periscope about the planner here.

All in all, I do recommend the erin condren Teacher’s Lesson Planner. It’s high quality, and will help you keep everything in one place. If you’re interested, sign up for a free account here, and you’ll get a $10 off code!

Brendon Stimson Is Jack Kelly

Many of my friends know that after last Saturday (which you read about yesterday), the next time I was going to see Newsies wasn’t until Sunday, July 8 with Gigi (Twitter friends and fellow Fansie). Many of you also know that one little tweet from Jeremy Jordan yesterday changed all of that:

Come anyway? Psh. I wasn’t planning on coming, but you better believe I’ll be getting a ticket into this show one way or another.

The second I heard Brendon Stimson was going on as Jack, I was ready to run to the theatre, and it was barely 1pm when I found out. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve wanted to see him as Jack Kelly since I found out he was the understudy (not that I don’t love Jeremy Jordan, because I do, but I love Brendon’s acting. When he’s Oscar, I’m scared of him and don’t like his character, but when he’s out there as a Newsie, I’m in love with the adorable Ike. He’s that good). The desire was only heightened a few weeks later when I met Brendon’s mom in Times Square (What are the odds, right?), and got to talk to her about her son and how he would hopefully get to go on as Jack Kelly at some point.

Brendon's Mom and I in Times Square April 10, 2012

Brendon’s Mom and I in the Disney Store Times Square     April 10, 2012

So of course, when I saw Jeremy’s tweet, I knew I was going to need to see the show. And then my twitter feed was just getting filled with more and more comments about Brendon being in the show, and I just kept getting more excited. I got to the theatre around 4:45 and went straight to the lotto guys and asked if I could start the standing room only line. They laughed and said yes, and followed me out to let everyone in the extremely long lotto line know I wasn’t cutting them.

I was anxious waiting there. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to win, but I was also pretty sure that I was going to get a SRO ticket because the show was sold out on Ticketmaster. I just wanted to get a ticket in my hand. While waiting, I think I told everyone about how Brendon was going on as Jack Kelly, and how excited I was about it. Basically, some random 30-odd people who were waiting to get lotto and standing-room only tickets found out that I wanted to see Brendon as Jack Kelly. Some of them even asked if I was worried about hyping it up too much for myself (I suppose they had a point, but I ignored them).

After the excruciatingly long lotto drawing where I did indeed lose, the standing room only crowd got to move forward to buy tickets. As I was at the front of the line, the ticketing guy saw me first, and recognized me. He asked if I’d managed to find Nelson (I had), and gave me my ticket and change, and said to enjoy the show.

I then went outside to catch up with the lotto guys to get a picture with them, since I see them so often, it only seemed right to capture the moment (FINALLY):

The Newsies Lotto Guys and I - July 2, 2012

The Newsies Lotto Guys and I

As the realization of having a ticket to see Brendon as Jack Kelly hit me, I saw Jack Scott and Kara Lindsay approach the theatre. I asked them if they could stop for a minute because I had managed to track down a copy of his trading card and wanted him to sign it. While that was happening, I told them I heard Brendon was playing Jack tonight, and that I rushed to the theatre to get a ticket to see him.

After they entered the theatre, I let myself react to having a ticket in my hand. I was definitely crying tears of joy, and I could feel all these wonderful emotions welling up inside of me. I had so much energy, I wanted to do some of the Newsies’ dances, but as I can’t dance (quite literally), I settled for walking laps around the theatre’s block for the next hour.

When I noticed Nelson, I went up and gave him a hug and said thank you for Saturday again. He asked if I was seeing the show, and I told him that I heard Brendon was going to be Jack Kelly tonight, so I had to see the show, and then Brady walked by and said that I couldn’t possibly be seeing the show. Once again, I told him I was there to see Brendon.

At this point, you can see that I was in fact truly excited about this. It’s quite possible that I was more excited to see Brendon play the role of Jack Kelly that I was before first seeing the show.

So excited to see @BrenStims as Jack Kelly!!! This is going to be amazing! Break a leg! I'm so excited for you!!

My “I get to see Brendon as Jack Kelly!” Tweet

At any rate, my excitement was justified. The show was amazing. Sure there were a couple of mistakes, but I forgot that that wasn’t how the show was supposed to go because Brendon was such a professional on the stage. For example, his first time meeting Katherine, he’s supposed to be fully dressed already. There were some, uh, difficulties getting the shirt on in time, but if you didn’t already know that (and even if you did), you didn’t notice that it was off until you relived the show on the subway ride home. He really did a great job during every single part of his performance.

Brendon’s performance was so beautiful, I literally cried during the entire show. My eyes were sparkling and I could not stop smiling. He truly commanded the audience’s attention when he was on stage. And his singing was so wonderful! I was surprised to find that I loved him singing “I Never Planned On You.” Normally, I like the song, but I don’t swoon during it. I did some hardcore swooning with Brendon singing that song. Also, his facial expressions were perfect during every single song. “Santa Fe” caused my heart to break. He did such a good job tapping into the emotions there. He matched Jeremy’s skill in that song every step of the way. I loved “Watch What Happens (Reprise),” which I always do, and Brendon definitely brought something a little different to the table with that one. And of course, “Something to Believe In” caused my heart to melt. It was so beautiful and gorgeous. I couldn’t believe it. I was stunned and  ridiculously happy and overjoyed.

I’ll definitely be on a high from this show at least until the next time I see it (Sunday July 8!!!). I was so happy and joyful during the stage door experience, and so many people came out (even the elusive Kyle Coffman, who immediately tried to say that he was 2 for 2…it’s 2 for 8, buddy, but since you asked about Jasmine’s video, I’ll let it slide), that it only added to the magic. I got pictures with most of them, which I’ll include below.

The highlight of my night was definitely much simpler than seeing the whole show. It was Brendon’s stage door. He came out, and when he got to me he said “Hey Steph, how’s it going?” He remembered me! Of course, I think I mentioned him in like 20 tweets that night (not really that many), but still. he stopped to talk to me for a minute, and I got a picture with the night’s big star and everything was right in the world. I was officially on Cloud 9, and I don’t plan on getting off anytime soon. Based on Brendon’s tweet, I think he’s feeling the same way:

Truly a night to remember. Thanks to the amazing cast for supporting me through that rush. Thanks for all the twitter love!

Brendon’s Post “Jack Kelly” Debut Tweet

Basically, the moral of this post is “Brendon Stimson makes a fantastic Jack Kelly, so if you get the opportunity to see him in this role, JUMP ON IT! It’s totally worth it!!!” Oh, and “If you get front seats to see Brendon Stimson as Jack Kelly, I’m ridiculously jealous of you.”

My Once the Musical Review: Rush, the Show, and meeting Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti!!!

I finally saw Once the Musical. It was the only show nominated for the Best New Musical Tony that I hadn’t seen, and I was going to be so upset if I didn’t get to see it. But I have!

I ‘ve been wanting to see Once since I first started to hear about it, even though from what I was hearing, it didn’t sound like my “style” of a musical. I knew that it was going to be competition for the Best New Musical Tony Awards, and was I right! The show got 11 Tony nominations!

I finally got the chance to try to rush Once on May 17. I was incredibly unsuccessful. I got there around 9am, and let me tell you, that was WAAAAAYYYY too late. I barely made it halfway through the line before they sold out of tickets. I tried again on May 18, getting to the theatre around 7:30 am. I was still too late, but this time I made it up to the door before they ran out of tickets. At that point, I no longer had opportunities to rush in May. I was left with the first two Saturdays in June as my last chance to see the show before the awards. I made a plan.

Saturday June 2, we would leave the house by 5:30 am. Taking into account the changed MTA Subway schedule, we would get to the theatre around 6:30. We would get tickets!

And so bright and early on Saturday morning, I made sure Kenny and Chris got up, and we headed out…without Chris. He would meet us at the station since he had to get ready for graduation later that morning.

We all jumped on the Subway train, and we did indeed get to the theatre around 6:30am. And we waited in line for the next 3.5 hours. The shocker? There were easily 10-15 people in front of us. How early do you people get there!?!?!

Anyway, after a while Chris had to leave to go to graduation, so Kenny and I held down the fort. We played Go Fish, Words with Friends, and tried to read. The rain made all of this really hard to do while juggling umbrellas…but we were on a mission (*sell the next edition?*). We HAD to get tickets. So we waited out the storms, and chuckled at the people who came to join the line at 9:30 (I’d learned my lesson the first time).

10am came, and went. And then tickets were in our hot little hands! We did it! We won!!! It was really exciting and Kenny and I rushed to the subway to get home as quickly as possible…we were gonna need some rest to stay up for the show after such an early morning.

We all met up again in front of the theatre around 7:30, and we watched everyone get into line to enter, and finally joined them after we met a really awesome guy who had a SRO ticket.

We stopped at a bar on our way in, since the stage looked super crowded, and settled into our seats to enjoy the show. The nice thing about Once is that they all play music on stage during the half hour before the show actually starts. The bad thing about that is that you can’t really tell when the show is starting, except for the fact that the ushers run up and down the aisles shouting at people to put away their phones and sit down, because the show is starting. I’ll be honest. This put the show into a bad spot for me. It was extremely difficult to listen to the music while the ushers were talking to people, and it was distracting that you could see everyone who had come in late get seated because the house lights were still up. In fact, the house lights stayed up until halfway through the third song, Steve Kazee singing “Falling Slowly” (hear the song here) when they finally dimmed down.

The book was quite good. I think I’ll be laughing at the “I’m always serious. I’m Czech.” joke for quite some time. Oh, and “let’s make a whole f***ing album.” There were several fun and entertaining moments in the story, and many of the characters were wonderful. I think it felt weird that some of the ensemble characters were given names as the story progressed, but Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti both remained “Guy” and “Girl,” but it did help that most of the names were not really memorable.

I didn’t like that the scene changes relied so heavily on the book. Most of the time, I wasn’t convinced they ever left the bar, except for something they said. The only scene that really felt like it wasn’t in the bar was when Guy and Girl are out looking over Dublin. Though it felt like they were in the bar for most of the show, the lighting was awesome. They did such a great job with the back lighting and focusing the audience’s attention on what was happening. The lighting was just fabulous, especially in the Overlooking Dublin scene. I think they deserve the lighting design Tony for that scene alone. It was really amazing how suddenly I felt like I was overlooking the town, with the water nearby, and the little city lights twinkling in the evening. As for the other scenes, I think that if a few of the sets moved up a foot, or a foot and a half, with the combination of the lighting, it would have felt more like they left the bar. I think that seeing the backdrop of the bar with all the mirrors was my scene change issue. The only time choreography really came into play was in the scene changes, and they did a good job with it, but I don’t really think it’s Tony Award worthy. I think it was unique, and a little different, but I didn’t find it overly impressive.

The music is good. I did enjoy many of the songs, and they really do a really phenomenal job with the harmonies. It’s not the typical sound of a musical, and for some people, that makes all the difference. However, I didn’t feel like the music was moving the story along. To me, it felt more like a play with music than an actual musical. This idea, however, definitely comes from my preconceived notions of what makes a musical. I never really consider something about music to be a musical unless there are significantly more songs that move the story than there are ones they perform (if that makes any sense). Basically, I felt like a lot of the music was being performed by the cast for people in the cast, and it wasn’t out of place (like Newsies singing in the streets. Let’s be honest, we know that never really happened, but that’s sort of what makes it a musical).

The cast did a great job expressing emotions, and their accents were spot-on. They are all extraordinarily talented and I loved that they were the orchestra too. It really was phenomenal. Even better was greeting them all at the stage door afterwards. They were really friendly, and asked questions of the fans out there. I was excited to meet Steve Kazee because his #SIP (Saturday Intermission Pictures) are some of the best, which I assure you, I told him. We got to talk about it for a little bit. If you have any doubt about his #SIP pictures, look below:

He is really amazing! I was also excited about getting to meet Cristin Milioti because a) she is amazing and b) she went to high school with one of my really good friends (Sara Linton). In fact, she remembers Sara, because they did some shows together in high school, and She said that Sara is an amazing woman (she is! She is one of my inspirations and mentors!). I think this means that Sara needs to come to NYC and see the show so they can have a little reunion!

All in all, Once the Musical is not your typical musical. It’s good, and I think there are a lot (seriously, A LOT) of people out there who would really enjoy it. Even though I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be my favorite musical (hello, I am a FANSIE! That honor will always go to Newsies), I still thought it was a good show, and I knew it would be a good one to drag Kenny to (he loved it). I’ll definitely make sure to recommend the show to everyone who, like Kenny, might not go see a show, but will love it (heck, I’ll even recommend it to people who might like it, too). I probably won’t go see it again, unless someone really wants me to go with them, because I’m a volunteer and can’t really afford a full price ticket, and that early morning rush is way too early for me. At any rate, I’m glad I got to see it once.

Anything Goes and ASK ME!

ANYTHING GOES

Last night I finally saw ANYTHING GOES. It was a great show! Chris laughed waaaay more often than I expected, and waaaay louder than I expected. I was a little uncomfortable with that because he literally COULD NOT STOP laughing. I mean, it was funny, and very good, but I didn’t think it was THAT funny. I also wasn’t a huge fan  of the dance sequences with only two people in them, but that’s because I have high standards for that type of scene. I mean, I grew up on Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (and Fred Astaire with other women), and man, it is hard to beat Fred Astaire at dancing. I don’t think anyone ever has, actually.

ANYTHING GOES had just enough humor, and just enough drama. The music was really good, most of it has a fun beat, and those that don’t come just in time for relaxing. I wasn’t a huge fan of the parts where they suddenly acted like they knew there was an audience, because I felt like it was just thrown in there, but they were executed well, and added another layer of humor.

I loved the tap sequence at the end of the ACT I. It was beautiful and phenomenal, and exciting! Definitely ended the act on a high note! ACT 2 felt super short, but the story got tied together nicely.

The principle cast did a phenomenal job with the show, and Stephanie J Block was a perfect replacement for Sutton Foster. I think it was awesome that most of the cast came out and started signing playbills right away and thanking everyone for coming to a show…that doesn’t happen at every show, but they really show how grateful they are for the fans.

How to Succeed and Newsies both have really amazing casts. Everyone comes out eager to sign and chat (with the exception of the rules governing Nick Jonas’s coming to the stage door), and the cast of Anything Goes made me feel the same sense of excitement at the stage door.

ASK ME!

New feature added today!

ASK ME!

That’s right! ANY QUESTION!

Something serious, something funny.

About me, or for advice, I’m up for it all.

Once a week, I’ll take time to answer any questions you ask!

Click here to ask, or follow the link ASK ME! at the top of any page!

Review – @Newsies on Broadway from “Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals”

This guy has some interesting things to say about my favorite movie (I know its not very well done, but that’s part of what makes it so loveable. No one truly loves someone who is perfect. We love them for their flaws.), and about it becoming a Stage production. But I do hope his logic in his last paragraph is correct.

Read Chris Caggiano’s review here: Review – Newsies on Broadway – Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals.