Seeing Broadway Shows On The Fly

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http://www.playbill.com/

I recently made a day trip to NYC to see a show and spend time with my husband. It was a Wednesday so I decided to see a matinee and I was open to many different shows. I submitted my information to 3 online lotteries and actually won 2 of the 3. I ended up seeing An American In Paris. There are no guarantees that you will win these lotteries, but I’m confident that you can get tickets on the day of a performance at a budget price as long as you are not picky about what show you see or where you sit.

I’ve seen numerous shows through rush tickets, lotteries, and TKTS. I’ve scored amazing orchestra seats, obstructed view seats, and back balcony seats all at prices way below box office price. The best resource for these seats is Playbill. Click here to see the current line up of rush, lotteries, and standing room tickets. If you have no luck with these options, there’s always TKTS, which offers discounts of 20 to 50 percent on orchestra seats for every performance. They even have an app that you can download to see what is listed each day.

On this recent trip, I also submitted to the Hamilton online lottery again (I did this on my last trip too) and sadly, I once again did not win. It’s the hottest ticket in town right now, and the entire street was mobbed as I strolled by the theatre Wednesday afternoon when they were in-the-midst of the live matinee lottery. I then waited in line for a cancellation ticket to the evening show (at full ticket price) and yet again was unable to score tickets. I’ll keep trying and will post a photo as soon as it happens.

With plenty of options for discounted tickets to Broadway (and off-Broadway) shows, there’s no reason not to take in a matinee or evening (or both!!) show when you’re in NYC. It is paramount to a young performer’s development to see live theatre and learn! From hearing new music, seeing strong acting choices, observing performers’ technique, and taking in a new experience every time, artists can continue to grow.

 

She Loves Me On Broadway and In My Living Room?!?!

13521857_1024304054312864_5784175967038987441_nOn June 30, 2016, BroadwayHD provided the first ever live stream of a Broadway show: the current revival of She Loves Me (which just closed last weekend). BroadwayHD continued to offer this live recording as an On-Demand Encore through July 10th. I was finally able to rent and watch this last Friday evening, July 8th. I quite simply enjoyed my evening in with this gorgeous production!

Though I have known the songs from this show for years and years, I have never seen a production of She Loves Me. I own both the original  1963 recording and the 1993 Roundabout Theatre Company revival recording. I also have the vocal selections and have sung several of the songs in this show including A Trip To The Library, which I performed at my senior voice recital in college! I’ve assigned both the lyrical and character pieces to my female and male students. There’s lots of vocal technique to be learned from these classic musical theatre songs (breath, legato line, and phrasing to name a few)!

BroadwayHD is in one word: phenomenal! I love that I could catch this limited run in my living room (while my children were sleeping upstairs) even though I wasn’t able to make it to New York City. The owners of BroadwayHD blatantly state that this is by no means a replacement for live theatre. I wholeheartedly believe that! I also think that by providing a way for people across the globe to watch live Broadway performances, we are sharing theatre with those that don’t have access to NYC and these high quality performances on Broadway.

I know there are men and women of all ages (including my young students) out there just like me that listen to this music, watch this show, and it takes them to another world. It inspires their creativity, encourages them to pursue their passions, and makes their heart happy. We need more of this everyday and I’m hopeful that BroadwayHD will continue to spread the joy of live theatre throughout the world!

 

 

 

Playbill Series: Sweet Charity

Sweet Charity PlaybillI’m featuring a musical that I saw in the month of July in this month’s Playbill post. It was 11 years ago in July 2005 that I saw Christina Applegate in a revival of Sweet Charity at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. I was already familiar with the music (Cy Coleman), plot, and choreography (Bob Fosse) from my musical theatre studies.

This was my first summer teaching at the Emma Willard School, a private all-girls boarding school in Albany. Each two-week session in this academic program for middle and high school students had the opportunity to travel to NYC twice: first on Saturday for entertainment and exploration of your choice (museums, shows, shopping, Statue of Liberty) and then on Wednesday for an activity that directly related to your program (in my case, performing arts).

I saw Sweet Charity on Saturday, July 9th, with a group of 10 teenagers (mostly my performing arts students with 2-3 students in other sections). The entire program traveled on a coach bus and had a drop off spot in Soho.  We then grabbed lunch at a local cafe and headed uptown on the subway. It was many of these students’ first trip on the NYC subway and on a hot summer day with crowded trains, I was very careful not to lose anyone on the platform. We made it to midtown and all grabbed student rush tickets. With a little time for souvenir shopping, we made our way back to the theatre in time for our 2pm matinee.

It was fun to be in NYC as a tourist again. Even though I hadn’t yet made Manhattan my permanent residence, I spent quite a bit of time there for continuing education (aka voice lessons and musical theatre classes), auditions, and social fun! I even interviewed for this specific teaching position in Brooklyn.

I glance at this playbill and I smile with the memories that were created at the Emma Willard School’s summer program, both in and out of the classroom. I made friends that I’m still in contact with today (one of those friends was even a bridesmaid in my wedding), gained experience in teaching (this was my first teaching gig outside of college), and discovered my passion for training young musical theatre artists!

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My first group of students!

Singing on Broadway Today

I’m teaching a musical theatre workshop this week and we are exploring songs from shows that are currently running on Broadway. From the classic, legit musical theatre in the revival of She Loves Me to the pop stylings of Sara Bareilles in Waitress to rap in Hamilton, there are a wide range of vocal styles and abilities featured on Broadway right now.

We focused on three categories of Broadway musicals: new (in the last five seasons), revivals, and long-running hits. New musicals could be completely original works like Hamilton (the 2016 Best Musical Tony Award winner) and Something Rotten!, but could also include shows based on movies (School of Rock), books (Tuck Everlasting), or featuring music by a particular songwriter (On Your Feet). Even shows that flopped this season have fantastic songs so I think it’s always worth a listen to the cast recording.

Musical theatre singers are true vocal athletes that must have versatility, musicality, and strong acting chops. It is important to develop healthy vocal technique while strengthening your voice and building your endurance. Working on dynamics, range, musical style, acting the song, and challenging yourself as a performer through both repertoire and vocalises are all essential ingredients to getting yourself Broadway ready.

Here is a video that highlights two of the songs we’ve been working on this week:

Relax and Enjoy the Music!

When you’re studying voice, it is important to seek out performance opportunities. This could be singing in a community or school choir, performing at your studio’s annual recital, or auditioning at a professional level. I have so many talented students that get extremely nervous when performing and I want to offer solutions for these singers that will help them to find enjoyment when singing in public, especially when they are soloists.

Preparation is key! My first piece of advice is to make sure that you are completely prepared for the performance. You should have your music memorized (go over those lyrics daily!), be entirely comfortable with the musicality of the piece from notes and rhythms to dynamics and phrasing, and fully understand the lyrics/story so that you can easily incorporate facial expression and vocal inflection. The day of the performance is not the time to be going over those lyrics in your head, scared that you will not remember what comes next. At this point, you should be focusing on storytelling through your song.

Go over those vocal warmups! Every vocalist should spend time warming up their voice whenever they have to sing for a performance or an audition. Some singers need a longer warm-up, while others are able to spend 5 to 10 minutes on vocalises and feel prepared. Use the same warmups that you do in voice lessons. In fact, feel free to record a voice lesson one day so that you have these exercises on your phone or other recording device. Humming, arpeggios, lip trills, and sirens are all helpful in feeling more secure in your voice and thus combatting nervousness. I would also suggest 2 minutes of breathing exercises simply to ground yourself, relax, and get a nice full breath.

Finally, discover the joy of performance and have a little fun! This is so much easier said than done, but singing in public should not be the equivalent of going to the dentist. Students generally choose to take singing lessons and commit to performances because they love to sing (it feels good and it makes them happy even if they’re just singing to the radio). I want my students to be able to share their love of singing with others and the way to do this is to seek out opportunities to perform. The audience is not there to critique your technique or have a watchful eye in case you make a mistake. The audience is there to enjoy the show and applaud wonderful work!

Playbill Series: Waitress

_DSC3769I am starting a monthly series devoted to Broadway Playbills I have collected over the years. Once a month, I will post a photo of a specific Playbill and talk about my experience at the show and memories that come to life just by looking at my Playbill.

I’m starting this series with the most recent Broadway musical that I saw on May 6, 2016:  Waitress. This was my first trip back to New York City since having my twins (who are almost 18 months) and it felt good to be back. We checked into our hotel on the UWS later than expected and met up with my friend, voice student, and babysitter for the evening, Annie. We all grabbed dinner at Barley & Grain before tucking my two little boys into bed for the night. Running a little late, we grabbed a cab to midtown around 7:30 and made it the Waitress box office at 7:55 for the 8:00 show. We were lucky to snag the last two orchestra seats for this performance.

For those of you that don’t already know this, the entire theatre smells like apple pie specifically for this show! Featuring music by Sara Bareilles and starring Jessie Mueller, it was a treat to be at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre this Friday night. Waitress was the perfect show to see as a woman, a mother, and a storyteller. I laughed, I cried, I remembered what it felt like the moment I heard my baby cry for the first time and how my life changed in the best possible ways.

After the show, my husband and I walked up to 52nd Street to our favorite little wine and cheese cafe, Casellula, to cap off the evening. Walking the streets of midtown Manhattan that night was a breath of fresh air and reminded me why NYC will always hold a piece of my heart.

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Classic Broadway for Young Singers

There is so much to learn from working on classic Broadway showtunes. I’m devoting this post to learning traditional, classic musical theatre for kids of all ages (and yes, this can even include those who are young at heart).

As a voice teacher, it is extremely important to me that my students know songs from the Golden Age of musical theatre. While searching for audition material, some students are so focused on finding obscure or new songs and avoiding “overdone” songs that they somehow miss learning about Oklahoma, The Music Man, and My Fair Lady. This is certainly an impediment to their progress as performers. We can learn so much from these classic musicals about the history of this American art form as well as the development of healthy vocal technique and song study.

I encourage all of my students to study at least one song by each of these classic Broadway composers and lyricists: Rodgers & Hammerstein, Frank Loesser, Lerner & Loewe, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Comden & Green. If you are unfamiliar with any of these musical theatre writers, please find out more! Look up the names and see if you recognize any of their shows or songs. If you don’t, find and play this music at home, in the car, or wherever is best for you and learn through listening!

Here is a video that explores two classic Broadway songs for young performers: