My Love Letter to Broadway

Dear Broadway,

You are my home.

I’m no performer; I can’t act, I don’t dance, and chances are I will never be on stage – these things are a given. But this isn’t to say that I don’t love you as much as the next person. On January 27-29th, I attended the second annual BroadwayCon at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC, and let me tell you, it was the best weekend I ever could have asked for.

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It was a celebratory three days filled with love, laughter and happiness. It’s rare that any of us get to talk about you in general, but it was a whole convention of like-minded fans ranting and raving about what shows changed their lives and how. It was 72 hours of singalongs and games, previews and performances, meet & greets and kindness.

As far as that kindness goes, I have seriously never been in a place filled with so much positive energy at once. Each individual genuinely wanted to spread love. Almost everyone I came across complimented my Hedwig jacket, and in turn I complimented their Cabaret bag or their American Psycho cosplay. We all had the same goal: to talk about you, Broadway.

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One of my best friends, Jessica, was my BroadwayCon “partner-in-crime.” I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d have wanted to spend the weekend with, either; our love for Hedwig shined brighter than the brightest star (see what I did there?), and we really got to show that, which hardly ever happens! I mean, I always show my love for Hedwig, but people rarely care as much as BroadwayCon-goers did. I’d never felt so accepted and safe, because I knew I wouldn’t be judged by any of the people we were surrounded by. It was so inclusive and not one person was rude – to be honest, that’s a rarity in this world nowadays!

There were so many events and panels happening that you’d never get to see anywhere else. For instance, we saw the entire cast and crew (along with some of my favorite songwriters ever, Pasek & Paul) of Dear Evan Hansen, the new cast of Hamilton, the cast and crew of The Great Comet (with [Alan Cumming voice] JOSH GROBAN?!), and the current cast of Kinky Boots (this was one of my favorite panels, because Todrick Hall is such an angel). We went to three singalongs, and at one point there was an entire room of dedicated fans singing the act I finale of Hamilton (“Non-Stop”) at the top of our lungs, so that was one of those incredible moments. Not to mention, we saw the original costume from the off-Broadway production of Hedwig, as well as a handwritten note from Stephen Trask himself (where did he come from?!). Also, when we wore our Hedwig and Tommy Gnosis outfits on Saturday, the choreographer of Hedwig (Paul McGill) had a conversation with us, and also wanted a photo! He was one of the kindest dudes I’ve ever met, hugs and all. I couldn’t believe it.

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Of course, these were only a few highlights. I could name tons more (hugging Jeremy Jordan, video-chatting with Kristin Chenoweth, hearing Lena Hall belt out the “Origin of Love,” watching the magic of Corey Cott & Laura Osnes singing together, meeting the iconic fan cosplaying as a Something Rotten! omelette, attempting to pin the ponytail on Alexander Hamilton…) but I’ll sum it all up by saying that I’m still and forever will be on cloud nine from all of this. Whenever I think about how we’ll be able to do it all over again next year, I get a little overexcited – can you blame me? It’s one of those things where I can hardly believe that it happened, and I’ve got to pinch myself to make sure I didn’t dream it all up.

I guess what I’m trying to say is… thank you. Thank you for always being there for me when I need you. Thank you for making me feel included and accepted. Thank you for understanding my feelings. Thank you for making me smile on every dark day. Thank you for empowering me to make a difference in the world. Thank you for making me believe in hope for a better tomorrow. I can honestly say I don’t know who I’d be if you weren’t in my life, and I don’t want to know. I’m trying my best, but there are really no words that can describe how you’ve impacted me. BroadwayCon left my heart feeling so full, and for that I am forever grateful.

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Thank you, Broadway.

♥ Katie

❝ If we sing, I know we’ll be just fine. ❞ –BroadwayCon closing number

 

 

Here’s to the Fools Who Dream: How La La Land Inspired Me

I don’t go to the movies often. That may sound like a blanket statement, but it’s true. I’m usually one to wait for the release of a motion picture on DVD, so for me to say that I saw the same film four times at the cinema says a lot. That film is La La Land.

The reason I am writing this is to explain not only how much I adored the film in all aspects, but why it’s important to me, and why it might be just as important to others in our generation. I wouldn’t categorize it to be a groundbreaking film, because to be honest, it’s not. It doesn’t break barriers in diversity, unfortunately, as there are no main characters of color nor in the LGBT+ community, etc. – this is one of my only downsides to it, as it would have been significantly more powerful had it included these. But it struck me because it inspires.

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The first thing I noticed was that it’s a musical, and I love the fact that it has so much success. Many people that I know are reluctant to see films like this just because they’ve got some singing involved. My personal belief is that the songs make it better (not to mention they’re written by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, two of my favorite Broadway lyricists)! They are a way for stories to come to life in an even bigger, different way. And this movie in particular shows two average people trying to live out their dreams while singing their feelings – AKA my life (okay, I don’t randomly break out into song but I sure wish I could). If you know me, you know that I’m a big supporter of the arts, and Broadway is my absolute favorite thing in the world; so maybe I’m a little biased. But there’s good reason to be.

The Oscar nominations came out today, and it makes me incredibly happy that two of these songs were nominated. Even if you don’t want to watch the film for whatever reasons you have, give a listen to the soundtrack. The film is centered around the genre of jazz, which not many people [that I know] listen to. Hearing both the soundtrack and the score will enrich your musical prowess by letting you experience something you haven’t necessarily heard before. There is more jazz in the world than just the elevator music kind (not that that’s bad!). It might encourage you to expand your horizons and search out even more jazz – this is what happened to me on Spotify.

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Now, the plot was not the reason I fell in love with La La Land. To be honest, the mise-en-scène and cinematography is what drew me in almost immediately. The vibrant colors and follow-shots were what pulled this film together, and without those elements, I genuinely don’t think it would have been as impressive.

The feeling of watching these two people soar above the clouds and into the glittery stars on-location at the Griffith Observatory was breathtaking. The movements of their tap dancing above the entire lit-up city of Los Angeles was beautiful, as was the way the camera moved with the actors to make us feel like we were in their shoes a good portion of the film. Ryan Gosling on a bridge with a gorgeous California pink sunset in the backdrop and Emma Stone walking around the working sets of Warner Bros. Studios gave us valid reasons as to why some people love Los Angeles so much. The montages and romantic atmosphere paired up with the classical Hollywood narrative made for stunning visuals and a heartwarming element that makes you want to see it again and again (and again and again, in my case).

These visuals gave me a sense that I can do anything I set my mind to, which was really the basis of the plot anyway. While they are average people, they are average people living in a relatively fantasy world (or so it would seem to the audience). Not all of Los Angeles is as picturesque as they make it seem – I know, I’ve been there. You rarely see the ugly parts in this film. But to be honest, I don’t think that was the point. The point was to be immersed in a fantasy, especially with songs like “City of Stars” and “A Lovely Night,” as well as orchestrations like “Planetarium” which has a dream-like melody (to go right along with the planetarium scene itself). Even the expression “to be in la-la-land” means to be dreaming while you’re asleep, so the title has a double entendre, as it also is another name for the city of Los Angeles itself. Though, you eventually get hit with an unexpected wake-up call from reality – but I won’t spoil anything. Go see for yourself.

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Now, I know not everyone feels the same way about the film as I do. A lot of people feel that it doesn’t deserve all of the recognition it got. And I’m not saying that other films that were released this past year don’t deserve similar praise (I really regret not seeing more films in theaters, but I do plan to see a lot of Oscar-nominees as soon as I get the funds and/or they are released out into the world). But I love this film for many reasons, and it has inspired me – and isn’t that the point of making art? To inspire?

La La Land has everything I look for in a film, and that’s probably why my personal feelings are so strong. My all-time favorite movie, Moulin Rouge, is also a musical romance with similar qualities. So, yes, I have a type. And every time I re-watch it, I feel an urge to go out and pursue the things I’m passionate about. As a millennial (not to generalize, this is just an internal opinion gathered from my life’s experiences), I feel that we often don’t know what we want to do with our lives, and this story makes me feel like that’s okay. It shows us that it takes time to be successful and to realize where you really want to be. Realistically, it also presents to us the fact that people change. Altogether, it gives us a love story but it isn’t ultimately about love, another reason why I appreciate it so much. You not only root for the two leads as a couple but as individual people. It’s about two young dreamers. You never know when there will be “Someone in the Crowd” that changes your life. Take chances and make mistakes, sing your heart out and try to reach your goals. Some might think it’s corny, but chances are you’ll relate to at least one character.

All in all, I strongly suggest you go and see this film for a unique and beautiful experience.

♥ Katie

❝ Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem. ❞ –Audition (The Fools Who Dream), La La Land