A Reaction to Broadway’s ‘Bandstand’

This post has been a long time coming since I saw the new Broadway musical Bandstand in previews back in April. Now with the show’s cast recording out, I’ve listened to a few songs recently and I think the show’s effect has finally sunk in for me. So, I’m ready to share my opinions on the show! Keep in mind that because I saw it in previews (albeit later in its preview run), there’s a possibility that some of its elements have changed since I was in the audience.

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Going into the experience, I was really excited because I love the show’s World War II era. If I’m reading historical fiction, there’s like a 95% chance it’s set in the 1940s and exploring the before, after, or immediacy of the war. I also love hearing about the American homefront during the war, probably because I read so much about Europe in that time and there isn’t a huge literary focus on the States. I also adore Glenn Miller-esque music, which was a huge selling point of the show for me.

Originally produced at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, Bandstand presents a group of young WWII veterans returning home and dealing with the mental effects that the fighting has caused. Compared to now, the idea of PTSD is virtually nonexistent, and the men feel even more isolated from their homes because of such a lack of understanding these mental changes.

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What I Love Lately

Hi friends! My first post-college summer is in full swing and amidst weekly (or daily) freakouts about life, I’ve finally emerged from a rough slump where I really wasn’t in the mood to take in any kind of cultural stuff. I wanted to share some things I’ve been loving lately that have made this transition into real life a little smoother.

Jill Mansell books

I read my first Jill Mansell book years ago and remember thinking it was just okay. Last month, I found myself in the mood for some of my beloved British contemporary fiction (the mood strikes whenever I’m particularly homesick for London, and what with everything going on in the UK in June, I guess it hit me hard). Having come across Mansell’s section on my library OverDrive, I downloaded one at random, Three Amazing Things About Youand quickly fell in love with Mansell’s style. It’s lighthearted, funny chick lit, but still so satisfying – I call her books the written equivalent of films like Love Actually. 

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What’s New: A Catch Up

Welcome back to my blog, friends! I’ve had a crazy month and a half or so of schoolwork, internship projects, and freak-outs about life that kept me from blogging regularly, but with summer on the horizon, I’m trying to get back into a nice writing routine!

Recently, I purposely made a post about my Tony nomination predictions so it was out before award announcements, and am planning on a reaction post to seeing the Broadway musical Bandstand. For now, as a nice catch-up to get the blog back in order, I wanted to do a News Worthy-esque post about recent cultural news or events that excited me!

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Jessie Mueller and Joshua Henry are starring in a Broadway revival of Carousel next year. The sound that came out of my mouth when I saw this headline was not human. I love Jessie Mueller, and recently fell in love with my birthday buddy Joshua Henry through his HamJams on Instagram. I love how this is a pairing no one would have really considered in casting speculation but now that it’s happening, everyone loves it! The fact that a black man was cast as Billy in Carousel is also huge and amazing. With a My Fair Lady revival already announced for next season as well, the 2018 musical revival category is looking pretty strong.

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My Fictional Bookish Girl Squad

Sanne, one of my favorite YouTubers, made a video over the summer about which female book characters she’d pick for her own “bookish girl squad.” She came up with certain characteristics to follow when picking girls, which I decided to list below and use to build my own bookish squad!

Honestly, the idea behind squads kind of intimidates me (blame Taylor Swift’s ever-growing posse), but because imagining book characters were real is the best thing ever, I had no issue putting together this fun group!

Someone who will force you to go out when you want to stay in – Louisa Clark (Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes)

I seriously need a friend like this, but anyone who tries can never manage to break my very tough aversion to the “going out” scene. Lou would be the ideal person for the job because, as seen with persuading Will to do things, she can make things happen when she really wants them to. She’ll go to the ends of the earth to make sure you’re having a good time, even if it creates some awkward moments at the horse races, as the book shows.

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News Worthy: 1/16 – 1/20

Unlike last week, today’s News Worthy is far more aligned with my typical format for the series!

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Like so many others, I was so excited for the premiere of This Is Us back in September. My roommate and I even watched the first few episodes live, which, if you’ve been around here long enough, you’ll know is a privilege usually reserved for PBS dramas. After the pilot finished and that big twist was revealed, I even felt motivated to write a blog post in response (which never happened – whoops). We fell behind on watching when the semester’s work piled up, but I caught up over Christmas break and was finally convinced of the show’s power by the time I finished the mid-season finale.

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Dream Casting: Into the Woods

I quickly fell in love with Into the Woods after seeing the film, and have become very familiar with the original Broadway cast recording. The show was revived in 2002, and what with that production hitting its 15th anniversary this year, I think another Broadway revival is well overdue.

In a new feature that I think I may keep doing because of how fun this post was, I picked some of Into the Woods’ main roles and matched them with Broadway actors I can easily envision playing the role in the near future.

Baker – Santino Fontana

I see Santino Fontana as an everyman, and the role of the Baker is that of an ordinary man thrust into this quest that’s asking so much of him. It’s hard to pick someone for this role when Chip Zien was so great in the original production, but I think Santino both fits the mold Zien set and has differences that could make his portrayal unique.

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3 Obscure Childhood TV shows 

Speaking as a kid raised on a lot of PBS and now-extinct cable channels (I miss you, Discovery Kids), some of my favorite programs growing up were things other kids rarely knew about. Essentially, you could call me a TV hipster before the word was even a blip on the radar.

Aside from the occasional Spongebob references someone may make in random conversation and my first “celebrity” crushes being boys on Zoom rather than somebody on Disney Channel, a lack of exposure to well-known shows didn’t deepen my home under a rock too much. A lot of the young people involved in my old shows still pop up in other TV projects, so it sort of becomes like hearing news about a kid you went to high school with but didn’t really know on a personal level – in this case, it’s actors popping up, and you get to feel special that you “knew them when.”

Discovery Kids was a branch of the Discovery Network and, after 2010, morphed into other networks until it finally became a completely different entity in 2014. The programming style could not be more different from the types of shows aired when I was young. I think its typical schedule includes a My Little Pony rerun and random kids’ movies from the ’80s. While we still watched Disney Channel in the mid-2000s, Discovery Kids was still a strong contender for the channel that got the most airtime in our house. The first two shows I’ll talk about aired on Discovery Kids, which I think displays just how diverse its programming used to be.

1) Endurance (2002 – 2008) 

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What Entertainment I’m Looking Forward to in 2017

Is it too early to start getting excited about all of the new releases / premieres / openings of 2017? As far as I can remember, I’ve never really known of so much stuff that excites me this ahead of the new year. Most of my list relates to the first half of the year, meaning that time should fly leading up to these dates!

1) After Anatevka

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I first mentioned this in my post about seeing Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway, and after seeing the cast’s emotions online after the production closed on Dec. 31, I’m even more excited for this book to come out. Written by the revival’s Tzeitel, Alexandra Silber (who also played Hodel in the last London production), After Anatevka explores what happens to Hodel and Perchik when they’re together in Siberia. I love historical fiction, and although it is one of my favorite musicals, Fiddler on the Roof has a pretty sad second act, ending with all of the characters’ fates up in the air.  Even if this book does have a grim ending, I think this is such a cool and personal project for someone like Silber to take on. The book comes out on the Fourth of July, and I’ll definitely be trying it out!

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My Favorite Movies of 2016

Like with my Favorite Books post (2016 is here), I’ve made a Favorite Movies post both in 2014 and 2015, and this year is no different. Once I had put together this list, I did notice that 2016 wasn’t a year when movies I watched became favorites immediately (with the exception of one), which has happened in the past. The movies that do pop up below were stories that stuck with me long after I watched them and may have been different from what I normally watch. Just like with the Favorite Books posts, these are movies I saw for the first time this year and not necessarily films that came out this year.

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My Favorite Books of 2016

This year felt like a light reading year for me. Funnily enough, three of my four favorite books I read in 2016 were assigned for school reading, and my overall schedule actually allowed me to really read them when I needed to. I definitely had a lot of reading slumps this year, even happening as early as January, but I’ve gotten a lot better about only finishing a book if I’m really invested in the story. The online book community can go a little crazy about reading as much as possible in a year, and while I may not have read as much this year as I have before, a lot of books read in 2016 just stuck with me in that very rare, special way.

You can check out this year’s favorites below, and I also have posts on past years’ standouts as well (2014 and 2015). Remember, these books weren’t necessarily published in 2016; I just read them for the first time this year.

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