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Broadway Babes: Patti LuPone

By August 9, 2017 Theatre

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Hey there! It’s me, Heidi.

Last weekend I went on an adventure that was a little risky.  It was risky because it had the potential to lead me to a job in a new city.  On top of that, it was a city that I never in a bazillion years thought that I would ever want to live in (more on that city later).  The job wound up not working out, but this post isn’t about that.  This post is inspired by a the audiobook Patti LuPone: A Memoir that I listened to on my way there and back.

My friends who know me best, and you who are about to read this post, are aware of my undying love for Patti LuPone.  Seriously.  I love her.  The woman is a genius.  She is talented.  She is hilarious.  She is opinionated.  She is strong.  She is powerful.  She is PATTI.  There is absolutely no one else on Earth like Patti Lupone.

I’m such a fan of hers that I actually wrote her a letter.  Yes, a crazy fan letter.  Actually, it wasn’t crazy, it was honest.  I think it’s important to encourage artists who you adore because there are lots of people out there who don’t appreciate the arts and, let’s get real, acting is hard WORK.  That’s right.  WORK.  It’s a beautiful and fun art form that way too many non-artsy folk out there don’t recognize as “legit” because “they’re just playing for a living.”  Sorry.  No.  They’re telling stories that educate, that inspire, that empower, that help audiences have a deeper understanding of what it means to be fully human.  And it’s not easy.  I thought she needed to know how much I appreciate her.  I was expecting absolutely nothing in return and, y’all… this is what I got in the mail from her!

Yep.  You’re seeing that correctly.  She sent me a personalized signed photo along with a WAR PAINT playbill (the show she is currently starring in on Broadway).  I damn near died when I opened the envelope and saw what was in there!  Amazing.

Fortunately/unfortunately, I’ve only ever seen her perform in concert.  I would absolutely love to see her in all her queen-like glory on a Broadway stage, but I am so grateful for the intimate experience that was her Broadway in New Orleans concert at NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts).

Remember that time I told you I write for BroadwayWorld.com?  Well, Mark Cortale in partnership with Seth Rudetsky put on a series of concerts with Broadway veterans each year, and Patti’s was the first that I ever attended.  I had the audacity to think I was going to “review” the show.  In reality, it wound up being an “oh my gosh, Patti, Patti, PATTI!” type of article.  You can read the train wreck here.

My experience that evening is something I will never in a million years forget.  One, because Patti.  Two, because I accidentally wound up sitting with the touring cast of JERSEY BOYS.  I sat there with my little notepad out prepared to write down the things I wanted to say in my article, when a truly loud and obnoxious group walks into the theatre.  Please don’t sit by me, please don’t sit by me, please don’t sit by me.  They sat by me.  I get to talking to the sweet girl next to me, Natalie Gallo, and she informs me that they’re the touring cast of JERSEY BOYS and that the guy I had interview over the phone for an article a few days prior is sitting right behind me.   Patti telling her life stories and singing things like “I Get A Kick Out of You,” “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “Meadowlark” for which she holds claim over, “I Dreamed a Dream” that she originated in London, and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” made the evening magical and inspirational.  Natalie and the rest of the JERSEY BOYS cast made it hilariously amusing.  (Sidenote: She’s infamous for calling audience members out for being on their phone while she is performing and I got to witness that.  Put your phones away for two hours, people!)

These weird things can only happen to me, I swear.

I don’t hate it.

All of these prior experiences with Patti made listening to her read her memoir over audiobook that much more enjoyable.  I can speak for myself when I say that I tend to idolize theatre actors, place them up on a pedestal, and think their life is so grand.  But, hearing their stories really reminds me, again, that THEATRE.  IS.  FREAKING.  HARD.  WORK.  Some people get lucky, and that’s just the way life goes.  But, Ms. LuPone’s story is anything but easy.  She struggled.  She studied.  She loved.  She lost.  She learned.  She fought.  She had good times.  She had bad times.  She had fun times.  She had weird times.  There were roles that came easy to her, and there were roles (I’m looking at you Evita) that caused her pain… physical and otherwise.  We can call her Queen Patti all we want, but she is in fact human.  She’s an incredible human.  But, she is human.

For all of you Broadway nerds out there who want to learn more about Patti’s journey or for those of you who know nothing about theatre but are in need of some inspiration in your life, pick up her book!  Share it with other people!  Or better yet, get the audio book.  She narrates it herself, so it’s as close to sitting down on the couch with her and shooting the breeze as it’s going to get!

That’s all she wrote about Patti for now, folks.

I do intend to continue “Broadway Babes” as a series and to bring to light some of my favorite women on the stage.  Stay tuned for the next one!

Until next time,

Wandering Thespian

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The Musical That Started It All

By June 3, 2017 Theatre

Hi there!  It’s me, Heidi.

In my first blog, I talked a little about my love for musical theatre – really it’s rather an obsession, a lifestyle.  But, I don’t think we discussed how it is I started this long-term affair with the stage.  See, when I was little, my dad who is cooler than your dad worked for a candy company and every summer they sponsored a soccer tournament in Pensacola, FL.  We would all go and make a mini vacation out of it.  It was about a 3-4 hour drive and, when you’re a kid stuck in the back seat of a van with your younger siblings who are in car seats, 3 hours seems like a freaking lifetime.

To make the drive a little bit easier to digest, our first stop on the road was Blockbuster.  Remember Blockbuster?  VHS?  Well, dad was (is… he’s still alive… young… hilarious… still cooler than your dad) pretty brilliant and rigged up our teeny weeny TV/VCR combo on the top of a milk crate so we could watch movies on the road.

But, of course, because mom and dad are performing arts loving weirdos, we didn’t just watch Disney movies or whatever.  Nope… our stop at Blockbuster consisted of renting things like OKLAHOMA!, CAROUSEL, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, LIL ABNER… musicals.  OLD musicals.  And thus started my obsession.  How someone can not like a great story that includes song and dance numbers that everyone happens to bust out into simultaneously, over the top hair and costumes, way too many corny lines, and usually a happy ending is beyond me.  I just don’t understand those people.  To me, there are two types of people… people who love musical theatre, and people who are wrong.  Maybe that’s a little harsh, but I regret nothing of what I just said.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s OKLAHOMA! was and still is one of my absolute favorite musicals.  It’s the first one that I could recite every line of dialogue, sing every lyric to every song… I even started to pick up on some of the choreography.  I just love it.  It’s such a fun story, the characters are hilarious (if you know me, it should come as no surprise that my two favorite characters are Aunt Eller and Ado Annie), the music is obviously brilliant (name one Rodgers and Hammerstein show that sucks… you can’t!), the dancing is mesmerizing, and oh those dresses!  I always loved the dresses the girls wore, and I wish we could still wear clothes like that!  One day maybe I’ll get to be in it, but for now I’ll keep watching it over and over and over and over like I have for the past 20-whatever years.

I’m not going tell you what it’s about if you don’t know.  I don’t want to spoil a thing!  Blockbuster isn’t around anymore, but I’m sure you can find it on the interwebs somewhere.  If you’re not a musical loving person (aka wrong), watch it with an open mind.  It’s an old movie.  1955 old.  If you can get past the fact that it’s old, enjoy the story, and let Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae sweep you off your feet with their delicious voices, you are going to fall in love with OKLAHOMA!, too.

So, thanks mom and dad for creating the theatre monster that you see before you.  Whenever you think I’m a little too obsessed, remember that this is all your fault!

Until next time,

Wandering Thespian

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Dear Heidi, tomorrow’s going to be a good day, and here’s why.

By June 1, 2017 Life, Theatre

Hey there!  It’s me, Heidi.

Here we are in Day 4 of my 30 Day Blog Challenge.  Today’s challenge was to set up a subscription opt-in for my wonderful, beautiful, talented, amazing, unique, and perfect-as-you-are readers.  But, here’s the deal… there are a couple of tweaks and a bit more research on the matter that I have to do before subscription capability will become a reality for Wandering Thespian.  It’ll happen, I swear!  You all deserve to be updated on all of the new content and exciting things I have to share with you so that you don’t miss a single thing.  It’s just going to take some time.

The other part of today’s challenge was to… can you guess it?  I bet you can guess it.  Ready?  Here it comes………. WRITE!  And, as per usual, I spent all day thinking of what I could possibly write about (hence the reason you’re probably not going to see this post until you wake up on Day 5).  I’m going to be a bit transparent here, if you don’t mind.  I’m in the middle of an employment transition.  And by “employment transition,” I mean I have a temporary job while I’m looking for an exciting career.  For any of you who have also been in one of these transitions, you know how frustrating it can be.  Yes, you’re so incredibly grateful for that temporary job as it’s helping you pay the bills, but you also know you’re capable of and desiring so much more.  So.  For today’s post (that I’m now only just sitting down to write at 11:00pm… shhhhh don’t tell), I’m going to take some inspiration from an incredible Broadway production I saw in January this year.  DEAR EVAN HANSEN.

For my not-so-Broadway-savvy readers, DEAR EVAN HANSEN is the incredible story of a high school boy who is desperately trying to find his place in the world.  Throughout the show, we learn that Evan is suffering greatly – although from what, we never really find out – and his therapist has given him an assignment.  He’s is supposed to write a letter to himself every single day that starts with the phrase, “Dear Evan, today is going to be a good day, and here’s why.”  I’m going to attempt to do the same… to give myself (and hopefully you) some encouragement for right now, for tomorrow, for any time you feel like you’re alone in this ever-so-temporary life.  Here we go.

Dear Heidi,

Tomorrow’s going to be a good, day and here’s why.

You are a daughter of the King.  He who loves you most will never ever leave you.  Even when you’re in the pits of despair and things aren’t all sunshine and daisies, He is there in the trenches with you.  He is fighting for you.  You do not have to fight alone.

You are smart.  You have been given the gift of an education that no one can take away from you.  You will find a career that you love where your talents are used to their fullest.  Even if your current job is “temporary” in nature, you have so much joy and love to bring to the people you encounter at work every single day.  There are people in this world that do not have the opportunities that you have, whether you always like them or not.

It’s supposed to rain.  And you love the rain.  So, there.

There’s a chocolate bar in your fridge that is waiting to be eaten.  You’re going to eat the whole thing.  The.  Whole.  Thing.  And, that’s an order.  If that doesn’t make tomorrow the best day ever, I don’t know what will!

You have the coolest cat who gives you more cuddles than you could ever possibly need in this life.  Seriously.  His snuggle game is so strong.  His fart game is so strong, too, but we’ll just ignore that for a second.  The little gentleman has even kept his bowtie on for a solid three days.  Trust me when I say that cat does NOT want to be wearing a bowtie.  But he’s doing it for you.  Because you feed him.

Pretty much you’re #winning at life right now even though it may not feel like it.  You are the bomb dot com so grab the tequila and raise the roof because you are absolutely #nailingit.

Sincerely,

Me

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Let’s Talk About Me!

By May 30, 2017 Life, Theatre, Travel

Hi again!  It’s me, Heidi.

So here we are, Day 3 of my challenge, and the challenge is to… wait for it… WRITE.  That’s right.  For the next several days the only challenge I have is to fill this blog up with content.  Which, for someone who likes to write, you’d think that would be easy.  But, oh my friend, how wrong you are!  Actually, it’s not so much the writing that’s the difficult part.  It’s the part where I have to decide what to write about.  Topics.  And for this girl, that is sooooooo difficult because I want to write about everything!  But I have to choose one.  So for today, you’re going to get to know me through some pictures and some things that I love most.  Lucky you 😉

In one of the pictures above you see three things that I love.  My cat, Fiyero.  A book by one of my favorite women – you must read it!  And my bed.  That is my happy place, especially on a rainy day!  It is the place where I feel the most creative.  It is the place I feel the most productive.  And it is the place where I feel the most relaxed.

Creative, productive, relaxed.

One of my most favorite ways to be creative, productive, and relaxed is through writing for BroadwayWorld.com, which I briefly mentioned in this article here.  I am a contributing editor for Broadway World in New Orleans, which means that I get to go see all of the theatre I want for (mostly) FREE and in return I write some killer reviews and I even get to interview some of the talent.  This upcoming 2017-2018 theatre season will be my 6th season with the site, and it has been a joy and an honor to get to write about the performing arts – something that I was introduced to as a child, continued on with through high school, and has been a life changer.  I’m such a theatre nerd, and that is why I have chosen to make it a huge part of this blog.  From my local theatre adventures to visiting Broadway to interviews with the coolest people to playbill collecting to Broadway Con to my forays with auditioning – I’m gonna talk about it all!

Another way that I feel creative, productive, and relaxed is through travel.  I L-O-V-E to travel!  My parents are of an adventurous nature, and were never afraid to take me and my siblings on trips even as young kids.  We were taught travel etiquette, how to navigate an airport on our own, how to get back to the hotel if we got separated, and how to “not look like tourists” (except for that one time mom made us wear fanny packs in NYC… *rolls eyes*).  There are two travel lessons I have kept with me that I think are invaluable.  Dad always said to “never pack more than you can carry yourself,” and mom always said to “count how many doors there are between your room and the nearest staircase in case of a fire – if it’s smoky and you can’t see, you can feel/count your way to an exit.”  Naturally, travel will also be a huge part of this blog.

And then, there’s life!  All of the random happenings, thoughts, gadgets, tips and tools, books, movies, friends, family that there are to write about!  I love life, I love finding the beauty in every aspect of life (although, if I’m honest, sometimes it’s really difficult), and I love writing about it!

So… cheers to you, my friends for sticking around for article #2.  Please come back for article #3!  I have so much more to say!

Until next time,

Wandering Thespian

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