Friday, October 31, 2008

Equus, where to begin? 1st of all it was fabulous! I definitely wanted to see this play because I was curious to see how Harry Potter would change from that good boy image to a rising young adult. I had no complaints at all for this play because he absolutely nailed the performance. And beyond this the lighting and special effects were crazy. It also made you feel as if you were somewhat part of the performance. I really liked how they had basically horse heads on the guys running around and how they projected the scenery on the floor to give it that special vision. And what made this performance different was it was the start of Harry Potter's career as a young adult in the Broadway business. I think he is a perfect fit for these plays and I hope he thinks about possible future plays. Lastly, even though I did not get Harry's autograph I believe I still had fun and take on new experiences wherever I go in Dr. Shosh's class. I look forward to any future trips to the city where I continue to learn new things.

Equus Finally!

During this whole semester most of the class has been waiting for Equus, mostly to see Daniel Radcliffe .  Anticipation grew in the pit of my stomach the whole week.  The night before I hardly had any sleep at all, thankfully this trip had a later start then most, but tried to catch up on a few z's as the bus headed to New York.  
Today, unlike the other trips, it was a double feature.  The class went to see a Man For All Seasons before Equus.  After the two o'clock showing of Man For All Seasons the class had about 3 hours to roam around the city and get food before the big show.  When all of the group meet back up at the Broadhurst Theater.   When we were seated I flipped through the playbill, waiting for the lights to go down.  After what seemed to be an eternity, the play began.  I was shocked as I watched the play become more evolved. It was intense as the plot started to unravel.    The play started to come to an end and I bolted out down the steps and out the door to get a glimpse Daniel Radcliffe better know as Harry Potter.  It was so crowded but I had one of the best experiences of my life that night I saw and got Daniel's autograph.

In the Heights

I hopped off the bus and could smell the hotdogs. To me it's the best smell in the world. I was so excited I could not wait to go to Broadway because this was my 1st performance. When I stepped into Richard Rodger's Theater I was astonished. it was huge! I couldn't believe my eyes and the set was phenominal. Afterwards I was practically addicted to musicals. Between the dancing and lively feeling you get being there it was amazing. I was so compelled that I actually bought the album when I got home and still today listen to it. HaHa!!! In the Heights was by far the best performance I have seen yet and I would definitely suggest it to others interested in lively musicals.


Today was unlike any other day becuase our meeting time was at 10:00,not 6:30, and we where seeing two shows. Arriving in New York gave way to great anticipation and excitement because we were on our way to see the men who made Harry Potty famous. Not only a hit on Broadway, but a hit on my list, Equus was well anticipated and greeted with much appreciation. We all loaded into the Broadhurst Theatre and strapped in for the ride of our life. A thiller about the contraversy over a child's life and what is at stake when he is found guilty for blinding horses was the plot for the show. Already we knew it would be full of excitement with small spritz of spell binding fear, but I think none of us expected what was in store. The theatre turned dark and we were greeted by a mellow voice echoing from the side of the stage. That slowly changed when the troubled boy and worried magistrate take to the stage. Each person's character had a different heart felt emotion which shaped who they were and the character they portrayed. We watched in aw as the play passed by us with great speed, which brought us to the anticipated part of the show: Alan's attacking of the horses. Filled with drama and tension the stage lit up and shortly thereafter dulled dark as before. The show was coming to an end and I felt as though more needed to be seen. We left the theatre more excited and fulfilled than we came in. Tired and exhausted we boarded up the bus at Port Authority and headed back to Bethlehem. The excitement and exhaustion was all brought to a hault when we got back to campus and prepared to sleep.

First Trip to New York

The first trip to New York for this course I really didn't know what to expect.  I was used to going to New York for other classes in high school but we always had a really strict schedule.  This one was a little different.  Of course there were times when we all had to meet as a group to do specific things, but mostly everyone could venture out and be on their own and do their own thing.  
On this first excursion to New York the class all had to be up at the pick-up spot at six thirty so we would be able to make it to the bus station on time.  We were all given our bus tickets a few days in advance.  I put mine in a safe place but had forgotten to grab it as I left my in my room.  Thankfully, another class mate was kind enough to drive me back and get a later bus into the city with me and one other student. 
Once in the city, it didn't take long for the humidity to hit.  It was very hot and muggy, but to top it all off we had to run around the street and finish a scavenger hunt within 2 hours.  Those two hours didn't seem to go by fast enough.  After meeting everyone back at a certain point we had lunch and headed off to Richard Rogers Theatre to see In the Heights.  As I sat down in my seat, my eyes wandered around the stage, taking in all of the scenery.  It was a very well designed set and my eyes did not stop to gaze at one thing for very long.  It was vibrate and busy, just like the play, which had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  With all of the lights, sounds, and different beats in music made In the Heights a great musical to start this semester off right.

From the very beginning of our day in the city, the only thing on most of our minds was Daniel Radcliffe. We had read the play, and now it was time to see the play. But first, we saw A Man For All Seasons, which had also just opened on Broadway. I thought A Man For All Seasons was very well put together, and I thought the sets and the lighting were very good. Frank Langella, who played Sir Thomas More, did a great job in my opinion. His acting was my favorite part of the show, and his character was so believable that you really felt like you were watching Sir Thomas More. If it weren't for this class, I definitely would not have gone to see A Man For All Seasons on my own, but I'm glad I got the opportunity to see it because I thought it was a good experience.
After the show, we had some free time in the city which was good considering most of us were starving. We were so ready to eat, but it seemed like every restaurant we went to had an extremely long wait for a table. Finally we ended up at the Hard Rock Cafe, which turned out to have a 45 minute wait, but we decided that we had enough time to eat there, and we wanted to stay. I had never been to the Hard Rock Cafe before but I thought it was a really fun place to go. I loved all of the memorabilia that was on display from famous musicians. I was especially interested because I am an aspiring musician and I loved seeing things that my idols left behind for them to showcase. When we finally got our table, we were all so relieved, and after we ate we all got this surge of energy back into us.
Seeing Equus was just an overall great experience. The play was interesting and clever and the performers did a great job, and of course the fact that Daniel Radcliffe was there made it so much more exciting. It was so strange seeing someone in person that you've only seen on the big screen before. Sometimes I would catch myself thinking things like, "Wow, Daniel Radcliffe is totally in the same room with us right now" and it was just really exciting. We heard from one of the ushers that if you left the show a scene or two early, you could wait outside and possibly get Daniel's autograph, so of course that's what we decided to do. We snuck out towards the end of the show, and pretty much ran out of the theatre and saw that there was already a huge crowd waiting. We didn't think we were even going to be able to see him, let alone get an autograph, but it turned out that if you had your ticket from that night's performance, you got to move all the way up to the front.  So we got to cut in front of all of the other people waiting and everyone in our group was able to get an autograph! Of course after that, we were afraid we'd miss the last bus home, so we ran for our lives to Port Authority. Luckily we made it on time, and we all had our autographs with us to show off. That was the perfect way to end our day in the city!

EQUUS . . . enough said.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

After reading the play Equus, I learned the how powerful and ingenious the storyline really is. Just by reading the play you can take note on what conventions of dramatic structure are at work, thus causing the actions which were happening to pull together and make sense. Without a doubt the dramatic structure is the key factor in creating the true effect of the story. It all started with concerning Hesther stressing her need for Dr. Dysart’s psychological assistance.
In Equus the focus and emphasis was almost obviously pointed out in the beginning. Within the first few scenes the audience attention was on Alan, the boy who Hesther was eagerly seeking help for. From that point on the play became a story of Dysart trying to discover the truth in Alan’s tale, thus establishing a mysterious mood. The play had an element of suspense and unknown that left the audience creating thoughts in their minds of what might had taken place and what that might have meant. For instance in between Dysart’s meetings with Alan, the boy would sometimes just call it a day leaving Dysart in the dark. On other days Alan would finally reveal his story although it was difficult to take him seriously, there was no telling whether it was true or if he was making it all up.
Another dramatic element that I believe was in Equus was limited space. Although Alan’s stories brought the audience’s attention to his bedroom and some for the barn where he worked at, these places seemed to be recreated and reenacted in Dr. Dysart’s where the play seemed to dominantly take place. Dysart’s office became the common ground for all the characters to meet and interact with helping Dysart discover the crisis with Alan.
An additional crucial convention of dramatic structure in Equus is conflict. In the storyline Alan seems to be in conflict with everyone including Dysart, his parents, Jill, the horses, and himself. Another device used by Shaffer to create friction between forces is by restricting the characters to the members of a family. Shaffer created a rivalry between Alan and his parents. More or less Alan’s relationship between his mother seemed to be categorized with religion. In reality his nonexistent bond between him and his father had some true difficulties towards the end as they came across each other at the movie. All of these elements and happenings play as a role in Alan’s resulting calamity.
Incentives and motivation also play a factor in the play. Dysart’s determination is key to Alan allowing his true feeling and story to be revealed. Dysart sets himself a goal to discover what is that is making Alan feel this way and allows the audience to connect with Dysart and Alan on this quest. Dysart’s task also lies in the dramatic convention of obstacles and complications. His challenge to overcome Alan’s fears is very difficult considering he is just finding out Alan’s true story behind his actions. All in all the play Equus is full of dramatic conventions, making it an excitable play to read and to watch in the future.
This first part of my blog was written prior to our NYC trip to view the Broadway show Equus. I don’t consider myself a fan of the Harry Potter movies, therefore when it was mentioned that Daniel Radcliffe had a lead in Equus I thought nothing of it. This state of mind lasted less than a second, or however long it took my fellow classmates to realize they were about to meet their Hollywood idol. Personally after viewing the show I would categorize Mr. Radcliffe as a brilliant stage actor, whether he’s as amazing on film I will not know until I watch his Harry Potter movies. I walked into the theater not knowing what to expect from the acting, but with an insight on how the plot was going to roll out. Thankfully both of these factors helped me understand and enjoy the show. Not only was Mr. Radcliffe’s portrayal of Alan superior but his fellow leading actors and actresses also raised the bar for true acting in the Broadway theatres.
Besides the Harry Potter star phenomena, I strongly suggest the show for the fact that words do not do the show justice. Viewing the interpretation of the horses alone make the show well worth it. It’s definitely a must see show!

Whose play is it?

Everyone knows that Alan (Daniel Radcliffe) plays a central role in Equus but is the play really about him?

Alan faces a struggle between not only his family, but with society in general and with himself. He struggles with an attraction that is condemned by both his family and by society. His parents are confused and puzzled not only by his decision to blind the horses but by his insatiable obsession. His father, especially appears to be disgusted by Alan. His father not only abhors his obsession with horses but also Alan’s fanatical obsession with religion, which his mother seems to feed and nurture. I believe that Alan’s parents (as well as the stable owner) serve to symbolize society as a whole. They view Alan as strange and sick, he does not fit inside society’s norms and as a result they try to change him and make him “normal” by seeking help from the psychiatrist Martin Dysart.
Alan also struggles with himself which is evidenced during the scene where he and Jill start to get intimate, but he in effect flips out because he is convinced that the horses are watching him. I think that Alan is also aware that he is not normal, or viewed as such by the outside world.
But Alan is not the only character to struggle and wrestle with himself and with society. Martin Dysart also faces a poignant and difficult struggle. He feels extremely dissatisfied with his life, and even jealous of Alan. It is hard to imagine why anyone would be jealous of Alan, but as Dysart points out “that boy has known passion more ferocious than I have felt in…my life.” (Act 2, scene 25) Dysart has never known worship, true worship. He feels isolated, especially from his wife. He feels as if he and his wife live in different parts of the world. “I wish there was one person in my life I could show.” He laments to Hesther. Alan also struggles with his profession. He wonders whether what he does actually serves any purpose other than to try and force people into the mold that society has set up.
Because of Dysart’s inner struggle, I feel as if the play belongs to him rather than Alan. Yes Alan’s struggles and battles against society are extremely important to the play but I feel as if more people will be able to relate to Dysart. Alan is content in his own little world, but Dysart wants more. Most people when they hear about the play Equus they immediately think and are disgusted by Alan’s relationship with the horse. But hopefully, when they study and exam the play they realize that it is about so much more. Dysart, unlike the other characters in the play realizes how many people live a passionless life, devoted to the conventions of society. Society dictates what is acceptable and what is not. Society dictates what God is to be worshipped and what gods are to be cast down and discarded. Society looks at Dysart as doing a respectable and necessary job. He fixes people that are in society’s view, “broken.” Dysart is the only one who stops and questions whether or not what society deems to be correct is so. He is the only one to see that Alan has something that most people never come close to attaining, passion. And some could argue, passion is what makes life worth living.

October in the City

For our October trip into New York City we had another full schedule. First we were attending A Man for all Seasons. This play is about Sir Thomas More. I really enjoyed this show, alot more than I thought I would have. The set was amazing, I couldn't take my eyes off of it. After A Man For All Seasons, a group of us headed over to The Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. This was a great place to have dinner because of all scenery. Dinner in the city is always fun, because it gives us a chance to talk about the day and also get to know each other alittle better. After Dinner we were attending Equus. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I was more than excited to see Daniel Radcliffe's performance. Equus was one of the most moving productions I have ever seen on Broadway. I believe this was my favorite show our class has seen thus far. After Equus ended, a group of us rushed out side to see if we could catch a glipse at Daniel Radcliffe leaving the theater. I've never waited to see a Star before, and i was completely star struck when Daniel finally came out. The whole crowd was screaming and yelling for him to sign the Playbill's. Radcliffe was so polite and took his time signing each playbill, poster, and even a cup for some women. He walked slowly and took his time and made sure he signed as much as he could. The group of us told him his performance was so great, and he responsed with "AWESOME". I am so happy we stayed and got his autograph, it made the performance of Equus even more special.

Well, after seeing Daniel Radcliffe, we realized we only had a short period of time to race back to Port Authority and wait on line for the last back to Bethlehem. All of us high tailed it to Port Authority. Even poor Jen who had recently tore her ACL. We made the bus! This trip into NYC was the best experience for me.

Our First Broadway Experience

When I first heard that I was going to have to get up on a Saturday morning at 6am to take an hour and half bus ride into Manhattan, I was a little worried. I was afraid I would over sleep and miss the bus to the city; I was worried I might get separated in the city and get lost, I was also worried I would get stuck in the city. After all these worries, I was extremely excited. This experience ended up being a great one.
Without any problems, I woke up at 6, and was on the bus to New York City at 7. The bus ride wasn’t bad at all, everyone in our class seemed very tired, and most people slept. We arrived at port authority around 8:40. Mr. Shosh was right there waiting for our class. Leaving Port Authority we walked to 42nd street. On 42nd street we received the rules and questions for our scavenger hunt. My group consisted of Alison, April, and myself. After receiving the questions I was concerned that we would never be able to answer any. After finding our first answer, I realized that we could actually work as a team, and answer a lot of the questions. My group worked so well together, and I think we became good friends. This activity was really helpful to get to know the Broadway area of NYC. The day that we were in the city, was probably one of the hottest days I have ever spent in New York, it was sticky and rainy. Even with these weather conditions it was still a really fun day.
We had lunch at the Film Center Café. We all met at the café at 12’oclock, if you were later than noon you were disqualified from the scavenger hunt prizes. All the teams made it before noon, even if they ran there from blocks away. Lunch was great! I don’t know if it was because everyone was so hungry, or if the food was really that good. The café offered a typical New York City brunch, it was perfect for the day we were having. At lunch I started talking to everyone in our class, and started to really get to know them. It was fun to talk to people outside the class and really start to know who they are as people, not just classmates.
After lunch we headed right to the Richard Rodgers Theatre for the 2oclock performance of In the Heights. In the Heights is a show I would never expected to like as much as I did. The show is full of energy, and dancing. It is about people who live in Washington Heights, New York. Usnavi is the owner of convenience store that supplies all the towns’ people with their coffee in the morning. The story line is very simple and easy to follow, which I liked a lot for the first Broadway play our class saw together. The story was also easy to relate to for me, I felt like everyone needs to go home to their family when they are having trouble. The story also makes you realize how much you appreciate your own home.
Once the show was over, most people wanted to come back to campus. It had been a long day and everyone seemed to lose their energy and wanted get on a bus as soon as possible. While we were in the show it had started raining, and once we were walking back to Port Authority it started raining heavily. Trying to navigate your way through the city with a big group of people and umbrellas was also a funny experience. There seemed to be a lot of bumping into each other and slipping in puddles. This trip to New York City was probably one of the best trips I’ve had. It was really fun and interesting. It was also good getting know the city better as well as the other students in the class. The show was great, and Mr. Shosh couldn’t have picked a better first experience for our class.

Exhilarating Equus Experience!

 Our class  was lucky enough to go into the city to see A Man for All Season and Equus in the same day! It was a jammed packed exciting and exhilarating experience. I had to wake up at ten in the mourning to drive to the bus station. I was still tired from the night before but I was so thrilled to finally be seeing these shows. The bus ride was extremely long considering I was anticipating the great day a head of me.
When we got to the city I was so happy. We got to Port Authority and then went right into Times Square. It was around lunchtime so our class all went to get at a pizza. I got a chicken salad that was very tasty. After that we to the theater to see A Man for All Seasons. This play was about Sir Tomas More struggling with King Henry the Eighths divorce. Henry wants approval from Sir Tomas to get the divorce but he strongly disagrees with it. So Henry starts to try and scare Sir Tomas into letting him get the divorce. This historical play is very entertaining and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
After the play ended it was time to get dinner.  So my friends and me ended up going to the Hard Rock Cafe. As we walked into the restaurant there was rock music blasting and signed guitars on the wall. I got some nachos and grilled chicken. We all eat and talked and had a wonderful time. Then after dinner we headed down the street to go see Equus. Everyone was ecstatic to see this because the main character was Daniel Radcliffe who plays Harry Potter in the movies. I could not wait to see if this famous star could pull of this difficult roll. The show was about a boy who sees a psychiatrist because he blinded six horses. The psychiatrist trying to find out why he did this and what is mentally wrong with him so he can try to fix it. This was an exhilarating psychological thriller that kept you on the edge of your seat the whole night. I would go see this play again in a second.
After the play we heard that we might be able to get Daniel Radcliffe's autograph. So we all ran outside when the cast were taking their bows. We got there quickly so we got a great spot in line but we still didn't know if we were going to get the autograph. When he came out of theatre everyone was screaming and pushing to get to see him. So Annie who was in front of me got my program and got me my autograph for me! It was so excited and was worth it. I will never forget this wonderful New York experience.

Equus is a must see!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It all began, Sunday early afternoon on the bus to NYC, I slept most of the way and awoke refreshed and ready to see the show Equus. After reading the play, I was not really into the whole show except for the fact that Daniel Radcliffe was in it. As soon as we walked into the theater, I knew that I would soon change my mind on this play. Equus was so intriguing, I could barely blink. Daniel Radcliffe proved to be the serious actor that he had set out to prove. His character, Alan, required Daniel to take on a very serious role and remain in character at particularly challenging times. Throughout my whole experience of the day, my feelings on the play, Equus changed drastically. I thoroughly enjoyed this production and recommend it to anyone who wants to see a thrilling, serious show.

Finally, Daniel Radcliffe in Equus!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A week long anticipation of seeing Daniel Radcliffe had finally arrived. As I entered the Broadhurst Theater, I reveled in the building excitement of watching Daniel perform before my very eyes. Unlike watching Daniel’s performance on television or in the movies, this would be a live, in the flesh, once in a lifetime debut. As an adoring fan sitting in this theater, I have an opportunity that few people get to experience; the chance to be up close and personal with the Daniel Radcliffe. While the only dividing factor was the stage, I can claim that I breathed in the same air as Daniel and I would have the ticket stub to prove it. Keenly my senses become aware to every surrounding detail. After soaking in the minimalistic scenery and the various lighting, I was mildly composed. Ironically, the first opening scene was at the office of a psychiatrist, which momentarily subdued my exterior composure. However on the interior, I was bouncing out of my seat. The show commenced when Richard Griffiths took to the stage. Instinctively, I drew my hands to clap, but quickly noticed no one else had done so. As a young enthusiast, I did not think much of it and focused my gaze on Daniel Radcliffe stepping onto the stage. I could not believe how small he was, but then again, I was sitting in the nosebleed section. As the play went on, I began to see Daniel in a new light; he was not the young Harry Potter film character I grew to know. Instead, he was a mature 19 year old, who may share some of the same interests as I do. Throughout the play, Daniel did a great job staying in character; this was a hard task, because Richard was throwing out jokes from all directions. I have to admit, I had a hard time controlling myself. More than a few times, I found my mouth wide open, my hands pounding on the armrests, and the sides of my stomach aching because of the amount of laughing that was involved. The confidence in Daniel was clear throughout the play, especially during the scene where his character becomes nude. I certainly applaud Daniel for taking the initiative to step out of the cookie-cutter Harry Potter role and step into a more mature, serious acting role.

After exiting the theater doors, the blood returned to my comatose legs and my eyes adjusted to the new light; only to find myself sandwiched in a massive crowd of girls and oddly, one man. I mentioned to my classmates, Jenn, that we would not be able to see Daniel from this distance, but she managed to navigate us both through the pandemonium. By having the backstage tickets, we were able to slip through into a private section to see Daniel. This is when time stood still for me. Everything proceeding to this point, prepared me for my up close and personal encounter with Daniel. Out from the hoisters, cameras were in hand to flash at moment’s notice, playbills neatly folded to Daniel’s profile picture, and the wave of screams from adoring fans; everyone was ready to see Daniel Radcliffe. As part of a group we all were assigned a task to help capture this kodak moment. Jenn and Colleen were the paparazzi frontrunners and I followed up by recording the frenzied moment. There were bouts of screams when the side doors would sporadically open, but each time they were short lived. Finally, when Daniel’s bodyguard forewarned us about pushing and knocking over the railing, the doors opened one last time for his arrival. Standing before the crowd was Daniel, looking as normal as possible. I did not really concern myself with what he was wearing because I was more interested in getting his autograph. Screams of girls pierced my eardrums and I could hardly catch my breath as the air was being squeezed out me. Everyone wanted an autograph, and I was no exception. Once my classmates and I to got our playbills autographed, we were left star struck. It was so great of an experience that we momentarily lost track of the time and almost missed our bus. We managed to run from 44th street all the way to Porte Authority and have the chance to relish in our incredible encounter with everyone.

Monday, October 27, 2008

On Saturday, September 20th, the class, sleepy and yawning, arrived in New York City and immediately hopped on the subway to get to the Lower East Side to go to the Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street. The red brick flat, which had at one time housed about 720,000 people, was about four or five stories tall, and looked rather ordinary from the outside. However, when you walked inside, the difference was quite profound. First, on our tour, we walked up about three or four flights of stairs to see apartments where immigrants had lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The tiny rooms were covered in several layers of wallpaper and dust and did not appear safe in any way; I have to admit I was a little bit worried that we might even fall right through the floor beneath us. Our guide went on to explain that not only did the tenement look unsafe, but, when it was inhabited, it was most certainly not safe. The paste that they used to put up wallpaper attracted vermin, the boxes they built up around pipes to hide them created excellent homes for the vermin that the wall paper was attracting, and the water, lighting, and bathroom facilities were very poor, causing disease to spread like wildfire. After our tour of the building itself, our guide took us down to an apartment where we were to act as a new immigrant family coming over from Ireland, and an actress hired by the museum acted as a woman who lived in the building and showed us how she lived and answered our questions. In addition to showing us her small living quarters and all the furnishings in her apartment, she taught us how to fox trot, a popular dance in her day, and how to work her new apparatus used for washing clothes. She also told us girls that we all needed to buy skirts because pants were for men. Interacting with Victoria forced me to feel for the immigrants of the past and wonder if immigrant life today is even any better, for she was a living, breathing person, not just the walls and props of a museum coupled with the drone of a tour guide’s voice; speaking with her really brought the immigrant experience to life by giving it a name and a young, female face, comparable to ours. After our adventure at the museum, we walked to the Feast of San Genarro, where the streets were lined with red, white, and green, and vendors and carnival rides were around every turn. We ate at a restaurant on Mulberry Street, and they served me the best ravioli I’ve ever tasted in my life; however, I might have been biased by my extreme hunger since I hadn’t eaten breakfast. Unfortunately, since we only had an hour and a half at the festival, right after we finished our lunch we had to get back on the subway, after buying a few t-shirts, and make our way back to the Broadway Theatre District. That night, at [Title of Show], we saw a hilarious musical written by two guys about two guys writing a Broadway musical about two guys writing a Broadway musical; Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell wrote their ingenious musical about themselves and their two friends, Heidi and Susan, and the plot line spans from their decision to write a musical about themselves to its award-winning success off Broadway to their musical’s premiere on Broadway, and it includes all of the drama that their quest induces. Their somewhat strange plot line coupled with their use of vulgar humor was something I had certainly never expected to see in a Broadway theatre, but this was kind of refreshing and the actors seemed just like everyday people, living their lives; it gave me a good laugh before we had to bid the city farewell and return to Bethlehem.

Embracing Culture

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hustling around the city all day, I was able to see some rather exciting things.  We started at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum where we were able to see what the life of an immigrant was like when they first came from Ellis Island.  When we first arrived I did not really know what to expect.  As we started our tour, the group was told that we would be meeting a woman who was going to play the role of a fourteen year old girl, named Victoria, who had come from Turkey four years earlier.  Our tour guide then preceded to tell us that not only would we the woman be acting but we would also have a role to play; we would be playing the role of a family that just moved here from Ireland and was in search of a place to live.  Victoria then gave us a tour of her apartment and gave us the inside scoop on where to go. what to avoid, where you can find a place to work and some of the new inventions that America had to offer.
I thought that the Tenement Museum was extremely interesting because at some point or another someone has had a person in his or her family who immigrated to America, and the visit helped me to understand what it was like for them.  For me, I know that my grandmother came to this country from Whales in the early 1960's and although her family her family had a lot more of the technological advances than these people did, it was still hard to support a family of seven children.
After the Tenement Museum, we strolled down to the San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy.  As we got closer to it, you could smell all of the foods from sausage and peppers to pasta and of course Italian pastries and cookies.  The streets were all decorated with red, white and green and you could see the Italians and how much fun and excitement they had.  Since this was my first time there, it was very exciting and there was a lot to take in.  Although we were only able to spend a short time there, it was thrilling just to have gone.
Once we left the festival we got onto the subway to head to see the musical [Title of Show].  Running late, we briskly walked to the theater as not to miss the start of the show.  As the opening number was being sung it gave me a goose bump sensation.  The way the actors sang was sensational, and they were fantastic.  Throughout the play there was always something comedic happening and jokes being told.  The background for the play was also very different from In the Heights in the fact that it had just a simple set, four chairs and a piano.  The overall performance was stunning, and I would love to go and see it again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Waking up to a beautiful sunny day was complete satisfaction. Getting ready for the 10am bus, I was excited to see both performances, A Man for All Seasons and Equus. The bus ride into the city seemed a lot longer than usual probably because I didn't sleep the whole way up and there was a bit more traffic.  Finally, the class ended up at the Port Authority and coming out onto 8th Avenue, there was a huge festival with stands everywhere. Anything you wanted or tried to look for was there. Before the shopping began, my classmates and I were starving so we ended up eating at Villa Pizza. To me, it wasn't the greatest thing I have tasted, but I was starving.

 After lunch, Paul and I started to explore 8th Avenue, and we had a ball. I ended up buying a scarf that I got for a really good deal. It was about 1:50pm and the performance of A Man for All Seasons began in ten minutes, so we ran to get to the theatre on time. Going into this play, I wasn't too excited because the plot based in the 16th century wasn't my "cup of tea". With the changing of the set and the incredible acting, Robert Bolt's production was phenomenal. It definitely changed my opinion of the play when it came to a close. Frank Langella put on an irresistible performance at the Roundabout Theatre. 

 After A Man for All Seasons, Paul, Anne and I made our rounds to 8th Avenue looking for an Obama t-shirt because Anne is a supporter, and she can't vote in the up coming election. Unfortunately, we weren't successful.  The streets in Times Square were loaded with people left and right. Doing all of this walking, made all three of us very tired and hungry so we decided to get a bite to eat at Ruby Tuesdays. I think every American has been there but Anne. So she was very excited to go there for the first time.

After grubbing, we headed to see Equus with Daniel Radcliff. When we were on our way to the theatre, these amazing musicians of about nine African-American guys grabbed our attention. They played intense beats with a drum set and instruments ranging from trumpets to trombones. We couldn't keep our eyes off of them. Time was running out, and we needed to get to the theatre.  Being a very big fan of Harry Potter, seeing Daniel Radcliff on a Broadway production was very exciting to me. Observing the stage with four box-like structures and a psychedelic mood was interesting. The play was a hit. Daniel Radcliff's performance was unbelievable. Before entering the theatre, I heard a security officer say, "If you wanted an autograph of Daniel Radcliff than you needed to leave before the performance was done." And that's what I did, followed by some of my classmates. We headed out the doors and there were hundreds of people just waiting to see Daniel Radcliff. We were pushed in the back of the crowd, and I wasn't going to have that. So I made sure my classmates and I got to meet and get Daniel Radcliff's autograph. I headed up the front, pushing my way through, and suddenly the security officer was yelling, "Tickets for tonight's show, come up!" I scrambled for my ticket, gave it to him and I was suddenly in front of everyone. I yelled to Anne, and she brought all the girls to the front. We waited, anxiously. Finally, in the matter of minutes, Daniel Radcliff comes out. He signs a few people's programs including all of ours. It was a dream come true.  After getting his autograph, it was time to hurry and get to the Port Authority to catch the bus. It felt like we were running a marathon. On top of everything, I have a torn ACL so I was aching, but my girls waited for me. Becoming out of breath, we made it to the bus in time. With excitement, we showed everyone the signed autograph and pictures of whom is known as Harry Potter. It was a night to remember.  

Heading my way back home with the class, I couldn't believe I just met a popular icon. This became one of the best experiences of my life. Thank you Dr. Shosh.

Back to the "Great White Way!"

It was back to the “Great White Way” for my fellow classmates and me on September 20th. Our Broadway and Beyond class held another excellent adventure for us consisting of touring the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, walking throughout the famous San Gennaro Festival and finally seeing “Title of Show”. I once again woke up at 5:50 a.m. and eagerly started my journey to the city.
The first stop on our trip was The Lower East Side Tenement Museum! After riding the subway crammed with people, we arrived safely at our destination. Max, our tour guide, briefly introduced himself and took us back to the 1860s when there was a huge rush of immigrants flooding to the United States. The Lower East Side apartments held mostly immigrants from Ireland who had to start a new life and support their family on an extremely low income. After climbing several flights of steps, Max took us to the top level of the housing complex. There, explained to us the dangers of living in those apartments and then took us to listen to Irish folk songs created about living in the United States.
The songs we heard told the story of how swill Milk could cause death and how difficult it was for Irish people to get jobs and keep them. When the depressing songs were through, Max took us to where the Moore family lived. The Moore family consisted of a young mother and father, and their three daughters. The Moore family lived in two rooms, one room held the bed while the other room was the kitchen. Max described the living conditions of the family and also told us that the youngest Moore daughter died from drinking swill Milk. After explaining the tragic death, Max took us into a room where a “keening” was held for the baby. A “keening” is similar to a funeral where people mourned the death of the baby and comforted the mother and father. We were then taken to another area of rooms where an actor, Victoria, recreated life in the 1860s for us. Victoria was a young girl who moved to America with her large family and lived in an apartment that consisted of only three rooms. Victoria was 14 years old and told us how she made aprons and underwear for her father’s business; this was my favorite part of the museum because it was both interactive and entertaining. After the museum, it was time to depart for the infamous San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy.
After walking several blocks through China Town we arrived in Little Italy to Italian music, the smell of garlic, and the waving of Italian flags off apartment fire escapes. I started my experience at the San Gennaro festival by eating at a delicious Italian restaurant with some of my classmates. Following a delicious helping of ravioli at a quaint restaurant we decided to do some shopping and walk through the streets of Little Italy. Although we only spent a short amount time at the festival, I enjoyed seeing the various stands that sold cannoli’s and Italian delicacies. Before I knew it, it was time to head over to the Lyceum Theater to see “Title of Show”.
“Title of Show” was my favorite part about this trip to the city. The show was certainly unique and kept me laughing the entire time. I was not sure what to think going into the play and I was pleasantly surprised with the result. The actors were extremely talented and had pleasing voices. My favorite song of the play was entitled, “A Way Back to Then” performed by Heidi. I could relate to Heidi because just like her when I was younger, I wanted to perform on Broadway and be in the spotlight. The show was endearing and not at all what I expected it to be. Even though the set was simple, it did not need to be complex for the plot made the show a hit. When the final number was performed, I was sad I had to complete my journey and endure another long bus ride back to Bethlehem.
Although these three events were very different from one another, they shared one theatrical element; history was the common thread that connected all of these independent trips. The Lower East Side Tenement shared the history of Irish immigrants with us while the San Gennaro festival celebrates the Saint of Naples. While watching “Title of Show” we literally watched history unfold as we saw Hunter and Jeff create a hit musical. To begin a critique for the Comenian, I will examine all the events I have attended in New York and see which one I enjoyed the most and eventually choose one. From there, I will ask what the purpose was of the event and whether the purpose was properly fulfilled throughout the performance. Both trips to the city will help me choose which play or event to critique.
My second trip to New York City was quite enjoyable and I loved every stop we made on the way to “Great White Way” even though it meant getting up extremely early in the morning. This trip was both fun and educational and I cannot wait for our next trip on Thursday.

[title of show] - The Music

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell have produced a book and a score that run the gamut of musical and Broadway references and jokes. In a musical, the opening number sets the tone for the entire show, and the first line in [title of show] is a musical joke, including the names of the first notes of the musical: "ADDDF#A/Will be the first notes of our show." Throughout the rest of the song, the actors sing about musical terms such as syncopation, a rhythm based on the off-beats of music, adding quarter notes in unexpected places, and "yelling fortissimo," meaning "loudly." Even the of the "Untitled Opening Number" goes along perfectly with [title of show], by exemplifying the character and tone of the whole show. Within the script, and especially the lyrics of the musical numbers, there are many references to obscure broadway minutiae, that can keep any person's interest, primarily if he or she in up to date with their Broadway trivia. Particularly in "Playbills and Monkeys," the idea of finding inspiration in the music from other shows, mostly those that have flopped, brings up many titles of Broadway musicals that have not been very successful, including Carrie, Censored Scenes from King Kong, and Oh, Kay. Also apparent in "Part of It All," many references to Broadway and the surrounding area come up to keep the audience guessing, and giving the audience members a good feeling when one knows a reference heard in the song. To separate the scenes, the production uses recordings of phone messages from big Broadway names, such as Sutton Foster and Patti LuPone, adding to the number of allusions throughout the production.

There's a first time for everything

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Having never gone to New York for a Broadway production my trip was filled with anticipation and excitement. After we missed the first bus we waited around and caught the next one to New York. I fell alseep and when I woke up we were in the heart of the Broadway Theatre district. No time was wasted because we were assisnged a scavenger hunt that had us parading all around the district to look for answers to the trivial questions. It was muggy and uncomfortable which made those two hours seem like an eternity, but they were over. We met at the Film Center Cafe where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch and the company of the new faces of the class. Next we marched our way to the Richard Rogers Theatre to see the show. Imagine living in the barrios of Washington Heights, imagine being the thrid set of immigrants to live there, and imagine all of this being set to a spicy medly of generations worth of music. This is " In the Heights", a show about the truths of the struggles of everyday life for this place that won "Best in Show" at the Tony's. The show had me wide awake and moving in my seat. My first experience was better that what I thought it would be. After the show it was pouring outside which made it awful to walk around in. I stayed in New York with a friend for a couple of hours then got the 9:45 back to Bethlehem.

Our First Trip of the Semester! 9/6/08

Friday, October 10, 2008

My experience in New York City this past weekend was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot of new things about theatre. I have been to the city countless times and done all sorts of activities, whether it was seeing a Broadway show, going to a museum, taking a voice lesson or even just going shopping for the day. But this particular excursion into New York was unlike the others.

The weather was extremely sticky and we felt pretty disgusting the whole time we were walking outside, because all of the smells of the sewers and the vehicles and the restaurants were even more potent than usual and we felt as if they were sticking to us. But after awhile we stopped worrying about what we looked and smelled like, and just had a good time.  During the scavenger hunt, we were also on another hunt—for a bathroom, which was an adventure in itself. One would think that with the amount of places in New York City, there would be available bathrooms, but we were wrong. The first place we went to look was in a Starbucks, but they told us that it was under construction. So from there we went to a Pizzeria, and that bathroom was just unusable for several reasons. After that, we went into the giant movie theatre that we had seen before we all split up for the scavenger hunt. We went up and down all of the escalators in the theatre and followed all of the signs for the bathrooms until we finally got to the top—and realized that they wouldn’t let you in without a movie ticket. So we had to go all the way back down the escalators and keep looking. Finally we managed to find a bathroom in a MacDonald’s. We ignored the sign that read “Bathroom for MacDonald’s customers only”. And we found that bathroom just in time, because right after that it was time to meet for lunch.

            After lunch came In The Heights. This was already one of the best musicals that I had seen in my life, and the second time was still just as exciting as the first time for me. I remembered how amazing the dancing was, and how original the musical score was, but I forgot about all of the individual emotions that the show made me feel when I watched it. At times it was hysterically funny, at times it was heartbreakingly sad, at times it was romantic, and the show held my attention the entire time.

            When we stepped outside of the theatre, it had already started raining. Luckily it wasn’t raining the whole day, but even walking from the theatre to the bus terminal was a challenge. Almost our entire class walked together in the rain—most of us with our umbrellas up and our raincoats on. But it felt good to finally get on the bus and just sit (even though our clothes were somewhat drenched at this point). Everyone was pretty quiet on the ride home, some people slept, some people were texting the whole time, and some people just sat there in silence. I think everyone was pretty wiped out from that day, but it was still obvious that everyone had a good time.

My New York Experience

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I didn't know what to except from Saturday's New York visit. I was scared that I was going to get lost and not know where I was going. It was very intimating knowing we would have to navigate the Broadway section by ourselves. I was also nervous because of the rainstorm. I didn't know how the weather was going to be so I was hoping for the best. Even tough I was intimated at first it ended up being the best New York experiences I have had. 
I woke up at six in the mourning and stumbled out of bed and walked to the parking lot. There I met all the students from your classes. After waiting for some students to show up, we got into the car and drove to the bus station. Even though I was exhausted, the bus ride was still fun. I got to know my classmates on the bus and ultimately made some new friends. After an hour and a half of driving, we arrived in New York and I could see the New York skyline. This reminded me of home because I go into the city so much. When we got the scavenger hunt I was was nervous to start because I thought we would get lost. We ended up actually finding a lot of the places and now I actually know where I'm going in Times Square. I was very proud that we directed ourselves in the right direction. The scavenger hunt was loads of fun. Even though we we didn't win, we felt like winners because we got most of the answers.
After that we went to lunch at the Film Center Cafe. I got to know some other students from our class and it was fun chatting and eating good food. I ate a cheeseburger and potatoes an it was very tasteful and for a really good price. Then we started to walk to the theater. I was so excited to finally see the show. I loved the big open theater. I was so excited to finally see the show. The set was Washington Heights, New York City. There were apartments, corner stores, graffiti, and a light up bridge. The set was unlike any set I had seen before. It was more modern than other sets. The music was different too. It included reggae, salsa, and even rap. This kept you on toes and always excited to see more. The play was very upbeat and the dancing was amazing. The dancing was hip-hop, meringue, and salsa. It was nice to see different dancing in this modern play. I have always loved hip-hop dancing so it was a big treat for me to see this. The singing was great and the characters really stood out. Everyone was so close in the community and I love this. They all watched out for each other and treated them like family. I think this was one of the big points of this musical. I am so glad I have this wonderful New York experience and i will never forget it!

Our Second Excursion in the City

Monday, October 6, 2008

Unlike our first trip to New York City, this past Saturday was here and gone before I knew it. Even though it was our second trip to the city and second time having to wake up at 5:30am, the part that I was least looking forward to had to be the subway. All in all the subway was quite the experience, being there with a group definitely made it less scary. After getting off our last train and having walked up the stairs to the streets the cool sunny air just welcomed us to the city. The weather forecast of with no rain in sight for the city definitely lifted my spirits for the day.
Following our subway experience we walked a short distance to the Tenement Museum. From there we were greeted by our tour guided and began our tour. I thought the tour was very informational and in a sense allowed me to step into the time period of immigrating to New York. The structure of the buildings alone told a story of the hardships that immigrates had to face. The tour guide supplied lots of facts and open to answer all the questions that we had.
Overall I my favorite part of whole tour and was one of the top moments in my day was playing a role of an incoming immigrant. Victoria, the name of the girl who acted as a three year citizen of the U.S., was incredibly in character the whole presentation. Stepping in her room was like stepping back in time. It was so much fun actually seeing acting one on one like that. She really accomplished her goal and knew every little detail of her story.

Our next stop on our trip to the city was San Genarro Festival. I was a little bummed that we didn’t have that much time to explore the event as I had hoped. A group of us from the class decided to have lunch together at fancier sit-down restaurant. Pleasingly we all left the table after eating what we all agreed to be amazing food. After we ate we had about twenty minutes to see rest of the festival. Unfortunately we weren’t able to see too much, but you can tell from walking around that the people in New York City hold great pride in the Italian heritage and the festival. The crowded street truly showed how great of a success the festival continues to be year after year.
Last but not least our final stop was the Lyceum theatre for our performance of [Title of Show]. Thankfully we were allowed to move our sets further to the front of the balcony where the view was much better. As the show began I realized that I really didn’t know what kind of show I was about to see. Confusingly the plot puzzled me for the first few minutes of the play, even though I researched information before attending. I thought the show was hilarious and very entertaining. The randomness of the characters caused me to just to laugh out loud. Towards the end though I began to lose interest and began to realize how long the show was without an intermission.

Credit goes to Coleen for the photos.

My First Excursion to the Big City!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My first experience in the city was one that I will never forget.  It started off a little nerve racking, being in a place that was completely new to me and then adapting to my surroundings.  When I first stepped off the bus and walked through Port Authority, it seemed pretty normal.  However, once I walked outside onto 42nd Street it was completely different.
Taxi's were stopped at lights honking horns, and people walked in packs across the streets.  A ton of vendors were all lined up along the sidewalks.  There were so many different noises and sirens going that I just had to take a minute to step back and get a feel for what was going on.  It was as if I was in a completely different world.
Once the initial shock was over, it became a lot more enjoyable.  As I walked around more, I got a feel for how to get around and realized that everything is just one enormous square, a rather large one, but nonetheless a square.  I also got a feel for what it's like to roam around New York and also learned where some of the most important famous Broadway shows are located and the theater they are in.
As I was walking I also noticed the beautiful architecture of the buildings.  It was amazing to see how old some of them were and how well they have held up;  As time goes on, it seems like everyone is so interested in building skyscrapers and other tall buildings that they forget to appreciate the history and beauty of some of the older buildings.  Even the theater that In The Heights was in was absolutely gorgeous inside.  The attention to detail on the work on the ceiling was so extravagant that it made my experience at the theater that much more enjoyable.
The play overall was outstanding.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect because no one that I talked to had ever heard of it before.  When I first saw the set I had this feeling that the musical was going to be one to remember just because of how intricate the detail was and how much work was obviously put into the designing of it.  The music was also a very vital contributor to make the musical more realistic.  It was very upbeat and had a modern style with a latin feel.  Lighting was another key element that was used to make it feel like a completely different scene or to accentuate the end of a song.  Another thing that I liked, was although the plot takes place in Washington Heights, I felt as if I could relate to a lot of what was going on, such as the college tuition situation and Abuela's death.
Overall, I had an amazing first experience in the city and can not wait to go back!