Halloween 2017

I spent this Halloweekend celebrating with theater friends and my Phi Sigma Pi bros. I was a basic witch on Friday and a geek on Saturday.

Me and Phi Sigma Pi bro Helene as a geek and a flapper

Also, I finally got my driver’s license Saturday morning! Now all I need is a car so I don’t have to rely on others to take me to doctor appointments, etc. That will be a huge weight off my shoulders.

My Halloween pumpkin
The Monday before Halloween, I saw “Madame Butterfly” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. I went with fellow theater majors from ESU.

My ticket, my program and outside the Met
This opera was not the best, but also not the worst that I have seen. I saw three other operas: “La Boheme” at the Met, “La Triviata” at the National Theatre in Prague, and “Rigoletto” in Germany. The other three were a lot more fast paced and action packed than “Madame Butterfly.”

Up next: Philly Cup Soccer Tournament and ESU’s “The Laramie Project”

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Salem and “The Crucible”

As part of the theatre department at East Stroudsburg University, I am performing in “The Crucible” this week. There are two more chances to see the show: tonight at 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow at 2 p.m. Our production invites audiences to connect the 1692 Salem witch hunt with modern day “witch hunts” involving cults and scapegoating.

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Act II, Scene ii: “Girls Gone Wild”

Throughout the show, we incorporate projections and tableaux to emphasize themes in the play and reality. I am part of the production’s dramaturgy team, so I researched media to include in the projections. I also choreographed the opening ritual for our production.

Along with dramaturgy and choreography, I also play the role of Ruth Putnam. Ruth is one of the young “afflicted” girls who accuses people of witchcraft to end land disputes for her family.

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My dramaturgy lobby display posters

In history, Ruth’s name was actually Ann Putnam, Jr. Along with Abigail Williams, Ann Jr. accused the most people of witchcraft throughout the Salem witch hysteria.

As part of our cast and crew’s research, we took a weekend trip to Salem, Mass last month. Driving in, we felt a mysterious chill and experienced a mist in the air unlike any other. We explored both historic Salem town, now Salem, and Salem village, now Danvers. We went on the Black Cat Salem tour, which was highly informative, and our guide, Dan, tailored the tour to “The Crucible.”

I also went to the Salem Witch Museum, and other members of our group visited Salem Dungeons and other museums.

During the trip, I encountered many witch-y tourist spots, visited the harbor and saw a comedy improv show while on a night out in Boston.

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Enjoying a drink before the comedy improv in Boston

My experience with “The Crucible” has opened my mind more than any other show I have worked on so far. Have you had a similar experience? Share it in the comments, I would love to hear about it!

Next up: Halloween!

ΦΣΠ and Other ESU Happenings

I was inducted into ESU’s chapter of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity last Monday. I can finally say I am officially a brother!

Some members of my initiate class: (left to right) Saige, Rachel, Jenna, me, Morgan and Justin

I say “finally” because I could not go to the original induction with my initiate class since I was working on a show that night. Because of this, my make-up induction ceremony was quite small. But I am grateful for all the brothers that could show up to make my night memorable.

The show that I was working on during that original induction was ESU’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” I was a run crew member and my main job was to man the stage right curtain during scene shifts.

“Little Shop of Horrors” set
Although I was backstage for a lot of the show, from the scenes that I heard and the ones that I had breaks to watch, this musical is my favorite that ESU has done. And the cast and crew were my favorite to work with so far, out of the three shows I have worked on here.

My Phi Sigma Pi induction was the night after the musical’s closing and the fraternity’s formal was this past Friday. 

The brothers of ΦΣΠ at formal
ΦΣΠ Formal was way more fun than any other formal I have attended. I brought my friend Tyrell, and I think I speak for both of us when I say we made some fun memories.

Tyrell and me at formal
Me, Kate and Gabby at formal: former ESU contemporary dancers and current ΦΣΠ brothers

This week is final exam week. I have one actual exam, three performances and one portfolio due by the end of the week. Then, I leave university for the summer and plan to work as much as I can to make enough money to buy a car. Which I have my driver’s test mid-July, right before I leave for a 15 day course in Sweden. This summer will be stressful, but I hope it pays off in the end.
Anyone have fun plans for the summer?

London’s West End: A Show a Day

I spent my final days in England in disbelief thanks to live theatre on London’s West End. For the four days I spent in London, I saw a West End show each day.

I saw “Lion King,” “Wicked,” “Matilda” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Each show left me more in awe than the last, reminding me why I love theatre so much:

  • “Lion King”: I swear the opening number, “Circle of Life,” reached into my soul. I felt a connection with the world through the cast’s vocals and movement. When something reaches that deep, it is hard not to tear up. After the show, I met Young Simba and Young Nala at the stage door.20170115_171456_hdr
  • “Wicked”: I decided to see “Wicked” after I did not win the “Book of Mormon” lottery. I went to a last minute ticket sales booth and this show just so happened to be the cheapest. I was pretty bummed that I could not see “Book of Mormon,” but “Wicked” was worth it because:
    • I knew most of the music, so it was easy to follow along and enjoy the music.
    • It forever changes the way I look at “Wizard of Oz” by tying together origin stories of every major character. I could barely believe how seamlessly the origins were incorporated. They left me sad, but fulfilled20170116_184712_hdr2
  • “Matilda”: I bought a £5 ticket for “Matilda” by showing up to the theatre early. The box office holds 16 tickets for 16-25 year olds for each performance. And since I only saw the first half last time because I booked a Warner Brothers tour, I knew I had to redeem myself and see the rest of the show. I was once again in awe over the alphabet song and the trust the actors put in others to keep them from falling.20170117_182133_hdr
  • “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”: I love Harry Potter, so this play held a special place in my heart before the script was even released. When I read the script, I thought I loved Scorpius Malfoy. But when I watched the play on stage, I decided I absolutely adore Scorpius Malfoy. On his first line, my initial thought was “ugh, this kid is going to be annoying.” But as the show continued, my adoration for Scorpius grew so much that it is hard to describe to those who have not seen the play. In between parts one and two, I met the actors playing Ron and Draco, then after part two, I met a few more at stage door, including the actors playing Scorpius, Albus and Hagrid.

Do you have a favorite West End or Broadway show? Or a show that you have been dying to see? Share your thoughts!

Up next: my final days in England and what I learned while studying abroad.

“Chicago” and a Birthday Party

These past two Saturdays were pretty eventful. I saw “Chicago” at my local community theater this past Saturday, and attended my cousin’s baby’s first birthday party the Saturday before.

“Chicago” was one of my favorite musicals that I saw at this particular community theater venue so far. I find that I like their shows best with a few strong leads rather than mainly ensemble. The musical was minimalist, fast paced and easy to follow, so it held my attention better than the last musical I saw, “Cats,” did.

My cousin Micheal’s baby, Dominic, celebrated his first birthday two weeks ago with a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed party. The decorations and party favors were cute and an ice cream truck made a special appearance.

I think the party was a bit over the top for a one year old because he is too young to understand what was going on. However, I appreciated the Minnie Mouse ears, which I wore for the majority of the party.

In other news, I have almost everything on my pre-study abroad checklist checked off. About three more items on the list, then I will be ready for take off!

Cabaret night and “Avenue Q”

This past weekend, I enjoyed performing in a cabaret at East Stroudsburg University and seeing “Avenue Q” on Off-Broadway.

Friday night, I performed in a cabaret hosted by my university’s Musical Theatre Organization (MTO). It was titled “New York, New York,” and every song was either about New York or mentioned it. We had about 150 people in the audience. The turn out was more than we expected, so we ran out of programs. We also raised about $150 for Broadway Cares.

I am proud of the show we put on. I was not expecting the performance to run as smooth as it did based on our rehearsals, but we pulled it together in the end. A few of the numbers even left tears in my eyes.

I am especially proud of the number I choreographed to “NYC” from “Annie.” My fellow dancers worked hard at rehearsals, and our performance felt strong. I received nothing but positive feedback about “NYC” and the cabaret in general.

Yesterday, I took a bus trip to New York City with fellow MTO members and saw “Avenue Q” at New World Stages on Off-Broadway. It was hilarious, as expected. Grace Choi, who played Christmas Eve, was my favorite performer in the musical. She has a strong voice and is really animated in the show.

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After the show, my fellow ESU students and I stayed for an informative talk back with the majority of the “Avenue Q” cast. This talk back was arranged by Sam Rudy, the press agent for “Avenue Q” and “Hamilton,” after he visited ESU for a Q&A a few weeks ago.

Although I had an eventful weekend, today marks the beginning of finals week. I had my last day of classes today, and my first final is tomorrow. I will be busy studying, testing and packing for the rest of the week, and then I leave for home on Friday.

I am still unsure if I should be sad or excited about going home. On the one hand, my classes are mostly over, so I will have less stress. On the other hand, I have become closer with my friends this semester, so it might be harder for me to say good-bye, especially since I will be studying abroad next semester.

 

 

Stage II Formal 2016

Last night was ESU’s Stage II Formal at Stony Acres. I had a great time dancing with friends and fellow thespians, and we played some games, too.

The night started with a potluck dinner. I ate a lot of pasta and cheese and crackers.

We danced for a while, then played a game of Jeopardy. The categories were related to ESU plays, musicals and the theater department in general. My team came in second place by about 200 points.

We danced some more, then played musical chairs. There was a women’s game and a men’s game. The winners became formal queen and king. My friend Cherval won queen.

The night continued with more dancing and dessert. I enjoyed formal more than I expected, but I think I owe that to my friends for making the night a fun one.

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