Tag Archives: theater

Surprising A Friend Headed To Broadway (or I Have More Motivation To Plan My NYC Trip)

I’m sure there are some people who get jealous when their friends have amazing accomplishments, but I’m not one of them. I love to get to celebrate people’s successes and it makes me more motivated to create successes myself! My friend Matt got a job as an understudy on Broadway and he’s about to move to New York! I’m so excited for him and I know he’s going to do amazing in NYC. And to celebrate the move and his job, Matt’s wife Carolina organized a surprise party for him!

I love surprise parties, but I haven’t had the chance to be at that many. So I was super excited to get to be at this one and I knew it would be a great party. We were all supposed to arrive at the party about 30 minutes before Matt and Carolina were going to arrive. I got there a bit earlier and was able to help with some of the set up. There were some really fun decorations to celebrate Matt and his job on Broadway and I helped with filling in some letters on the giant chalkboard.

Right before Matt and Carolina arrived, we were warned so we could get into place. We were all near the gate they would be walking in and we were crouched down so he wouldn’t see our heads peeking over the fence.  It was pretty funny waiting for the gate to open because we were all waiting toward one gate and then I guess the plan changed for them to walk in another gate. One of the hosts was singing and talking loudly so we would get that they would be coming in a different gate and we all turned around and repositioned ourselves.

The story Carolina told Matt about why there were coming over to the house where the party was being held was that they were dropping off a table there. So when we all surprised Matt, he was carrying a table inside. 

Surprising Matt from Jen Levin on Vimeo.

He had no clue this party was happening and it was so great to see how surprised he was! Carolina worked so hard to make this party happen and I am so happy that it went off exactly how she wanted it to be. I was just so excited to see how happy Matt was that we were all gathered to celebrate him!

There were a bunch of people I knew at the party so I spent a lot of time chatting with them. We were all catching each other up on life and other random things and we all did get a chance to talk to Matt a bit. But there were a lot of people there who wanted to talk to him and none of us wanted to dominate his time.

I know we are all going to miss Matt when he’s in New York. He’s one of the leaders of Union Working and his leadership at the meetings will be missed. But maybe he’ll have the opportunity to start a chapter of the group in NYC while he is there!

My sister-in-law and I have been talking about doing another NYC trip soon and we both know we need to do it! And now that I’ll have another friend living there it’s extra motivation to plan the trip! There’s no guarantee that when we do plan our trip that Matt will be performing (as the understudy he won’t necessarily know what nights he performs in advance), but it would be amazing if the timing worked out so we could see him in the show! But even if that doesn’t work out, I know it will be great to get to see him and Carolina again.

I wanted to stay at the party longer, but I was only able to stay a few hours because I had to get home for some work and errands (being a responsible adult stinks sometimes). But before I left, I needed a photo with Matt! And of course, other friends joined in because as actors we can’t resist a camera.

Congrats again Matt on your amazing gig in NYC! I know that everyone is so excited for you and can’t wait to see what other accomplishments you’ll have on your NYC adventure!

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More Musicals (or Back To A Fun Routine)

It’s crazy to think that my last show at the Pantages was 5 months ago! It doesn’t feel like it was that long but I guess it has been almost half a year since I was at a show there. But the new season of shows just started and my group went to the first show of the year for us!

My entire group has renewed our tickets for this season, so it’s me and my 3 friends at the shows (the next season is announced soon and we are all thinking of renewing again). Every time we go to a show, I realize how lucky I am to have friends who go to shows with me. I had so many years of not going to a show because I didn’t want to go alone and now I’ve had a few years of seeing a ton of shows each year!

Going to our shows have become a fun routine for us. We almost always will meet up for dinner before the show and I love that we make it a full night out instead of just going to a show and going home. There are a couple of places we seem to rotate through for dinner before the show. This time, we decided to go to Shake Shack. I’ve discovered that I enjoy Shake Shack a lot more when I don’t have the bun on the burger, so I get my burgers in a lettuce wrap. And I figured after my tough workout a few hours earlier that day, I earned a shake too.

It was a lot of food and I wasn’t able to finish it all, but it was a nice splurge to have. We did realize that it would be much better in the future if we order on the app than wait in line. Even if we used the app right when we got in line, the food would have been ready first from the app. I guess you live and learn.

We took our time eating (plus the line took about 30 minutes) and walked across the street to the Pantages about 15 minutes before the show was going to start. The first show of the season is Aladdin and we are all big Disney fans. Our only concerns were about how close this show would be to the one we used to see at Disneyland. But we also knew the Disneyland show was pretty short compared to this musical and they had different musical numbers.

I really enjoyed this show! I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite musicals, but it’s good. There are a lot of classic Aladdin moments that are in the musical, but it’s also its own show. The cast was very talented and the leads were the actors who originated the roles on Broadway. We saw the understudy for Aladdin, but he was very good (I was a bit disappointed not to see the main actor as I was excited to watch him perform).

I think my favorite was the actor who played the Genie. That part is an actor’s dream because you do get to be fun and creative with it a bit. You can change things up with some of the joke and it is such a beloved character. And the actor was so talented and was just a joy to watch! Also, I think he is the funniest character in the show.

And not only were the actors great, we all agreed that the staging and costumes were incredible. The cave of wonders set was probably the best set I’ve ever seen with all the shows I have seen at the Pantages. And the costumes had so many sparkles and we were all mesmerized by them. It’s fun to see a show that is so detailed and elaborate because that’s not always how touring shows are.

It’s so nice to have a full year of musicals coming up. Our next musical isn’t for about 2 months (Aladdin is in LA for a while), but after that we pretty much have something every single month. And with the exception of seeing Cinderella again, every show this season will be a new show for me! And many of them have been shows I’ve been wanting to see. I have a feeling that this is going to be an amazing year of musicals and I’m so happy to get to do this!

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Spamilton (or A Between The Seasons Musical)

It’s been a little while since my last show at the Pantages. And we do have tickets for next season, but our first show of that season is about 2 months away. My Pantages group didn’t really have any plans for shows between our two seasons, but when I was driving past the Kirk Douglas Theatre I noticed an ad for “Spamilton“. So I texted the group to see if anyone was interested in checking the show out and everyone said yes!

I have some friends who work at that theater so I contacted them to see if they knew of any deals, and my friend said that he could get us his employee comp tickets! We were going to have to buy the other 2, but that saved us 50% on the tickets so we were so happy about that. And since it’s a show that doesn’t have an intermission it wasn’t a big deal that we couldn’t sit together. We figured we’d hang out before the show and after the show.

We met up for dinner in downtown Culver City before the show and then headed to the theater. None of us knew too much about “Spamilton” except that it was a spoof musical about “Hamilton” and we were excited to see what it was all about.

As soon as we got into the lobby we noticed the drink specials that they were offering. We all loved the puns on the songs that the drinks were named after.

Dani and Michelle decided to have them spin the wheel so they could get the $5 drink of whatever it landed on. I don’t remember what they got, but they both enjoyed their drinks so it was a great deal for them.

Right before the show started, we split up to go to our seats. The two seats we bought were in the second to last and the last row in the center and the two seats we got from my friend ended up being in the 5th row! I thought they would be toward the back because that’s how many comp tickets go, but we lucked out!

And as soon as the show started, we didn’t stop laughing! This show was amazing! You have to know musical theater to get it, but you don’t have to know “Hamilton” super well to get the jokes. If you know the songs a bit and who the cast is, you’ll get the jokes about the show. But there were a lot of joked about other musicals, playwrights, and other people involved in the theater world that they sang about.

One of my favorite parts was when they sang about mashup musicals. It was just so clever and the mashups they created were perfect. I loved how they did “The Lion King” and “The King and I” together and “Avenue Q” and “The Crucible” together. The songs were really funny and I was almost crying I was laughing so hard.

At times we wondered if we were bugging the people sitting by us because we were laughing so loud and they weren’t laughing. I don’t know if they were quiet laughers or if they didn’t get what they were making fun of. But we were having an amazing time and hopefully everyone else in the audience was too.

The show is pretty short at only 80 minutes but it was a jammed packed 80 minutes. And the cast had so much energy from start to finish and it looked like they were having a great time. The main cast was 5 actors and they were accompanied by a piano, but it felt like a much fuller show than that. But I loved the simplicity of the set and music because the performances stood out so much!

After the show was done, we all agreed that it was a great show and very funny! I think it helped me to get my musical fix in between our seasons at Pantages. I am still entering the lottery every day to try to win tickets for “Hamilton”. I really want to see it for a second time before it leaves LA but I haven’t had any luck yet. But there’s still a bit of time left before it leaves so hopefully my luck will change (or one of my friends will win and bring me with them).

Or maybe I’ll go see “Spamilton” again because it was such a great night out!

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Revisiting My Past (or Enjoying An Amazing Concert)

I recently did a temp job for my old workplace doing some telesales. This workplace was the theater that I worked at when I started this blog. I hadn’t worked there in a long time, so when they asked me if I could help with a short telesales campaign, I felt flattered that they wanted me to help. It was a bit weird doing that job again since it had been years since I had done it, but things came back to me pretty quickly.

The show that I was campaigning for ended up selling almost all the seats, so that’s good news. I wasn’t able to do the sales that I know I could do, so that wasn’t so great. But I am glad that they sold out and that they were able to get the fundraising done that they needed to.

But even though my sales weren’t what we were hoping for, the theater offered me 2 tickets to go to the concert and I immediately said yes! I hadn’t been back to the theater since I worked there and the concert was a night of Josh Groban. I am a fan of his music and I did a music video for him (although they ended up not using any of the scenes they filmed with any actors in the final music video). And to get to see him perform live and in such a small venue is such a special treat.

Since I hadn’t been back to the theater in years, I wasn’t sure how it would feel to be back. And I’ll admit, it was a bit weird. I did see a few people who I worked with and some of them seemed happy to see me again. Other people didn’t recognize me and I didn’t want to bother them while they were busy working. I felt like I belonged there and I was out-of-place at the same time. Fortunately, I had a friend with me so we were having an awesome time at the pre-show reception and I didn’t stress too much about how odd it felt to be back there.

The pre-show reception was fun and they had some really great food. There was also some free wine, but we both stuck with water. We hung out outside eating and catching up on life. It’s always nice to catch up with a friend and even better when that is distracting me from feeling weird.

When I was told I was getting some free tickets, I assumed they’d be in the back of the balcony. None of the seats in the theater are bad ones, but I figured they’d put us in the back since they were free tickets. But to our surprise we were pretty close to the front and almost in the center!

I was not expecting to have as great of seats as I had so I was even more excited once we were sitting down! And the energy in the theater was so amazing because everyone couldn’t wait to see Josh Groban come out.

The songs were mainly Broadway songs (which I loved!) with a couple of songs from his various albums mixed in. And he was telling stories and jokes in-between each song. He was very entertaining and if anyone in the audience wasn’t a huge fan of him before I know that he won them over by the end of the night. And not only did he sing, but he also played piano and the drums! That seemed to be a surprise to everyone in the audience and he impressed us all!

The show was about an hour and a half without an intermission but I think we all wanted it to last longer. He is so talented and sang some amazing songs. But I know that the event also had a dinner after the show for guests with tickets at a certain level so they couldn’t keep the concert going all night. Even though I think everyone left wanting more, we all left with smiles on our faces.

Even though I felt weird being at an old workplace, I’m so glad that I got to go. I wasn’t deliberately avoiding going there, but I know that I didn’t make an effort to go to any shows there. And it is an amazing venue that isn’t that far from my house. I need to take a look at their schedule for this season (which is their 10th anniversary season) and see if there are any other shows that I can go to. It will be a while before I’m back at the Pantages, so I need to fill my love for theater at other venues. And I have a feeling that I’ll probably be back sometime soon.

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An Epic End To The Pantages Season (or We Aren’t Going To Throw Away Our Shot)

This past Sunday was the final show for my group in our current season at the Pantages. While we are a bit sad our season is over, we already have bought our season tickets for next season and we are really excited for that. But what was even more exciting was that the final show for the season was Hamilton! Getting to see Hamilton was the reason many people got season tickets this season. But I think all of us in my group were just excited to see all of the shows. Hamilton was just going to be a super amazing addition to the season!

And as we have done with the past few shows, we went to dinner at Wood & Vine before the show. And Wood & Vine just introduced a new menu with their new chef so we were ready to try some amazing new food and to have some of our favorites! Everything on the menu looked incredible, but we had to try to limit ourselves to make sure we didn’t feel overstuffed while at the show.

We ordered some veggies because they sounded delicious and they were a lighter option. The squash had an amazing butter sauce with some cheese and they were perfectly cooked so they still had a bit of crunch to them. And the carrots reminded us all of eating Honey Nut Cheerios! It was so crazy how sweet they were without having the sweetness overpowering the flavor of the carrots.

And while we knew we’d be ordering the bone marrow again, everything else that we got was something that was new to the menu. We were also able to have the tuna tartare, pork belly tacos, and the branzino filet.

And as we expected, everything was just incredible. I only had a taste of the tuna as it had a chili sauce on it and I’m really sensitive to spicy food. But it was really good and everyone else loved it. The pork belly tacos were so tender and the sauce on it was really refreshing. And the branzino was flaky and so flavorful! And of course, the bone marrow was out of this world! We had 2 orders of it and between the 4 of us the bones looked like this within minutes of the plate being brought to us.

When the bones were empty, Dani and Michelle decided to order some shots to have with the bones. They were actually talking about doing this the night before at my party so it was pretty funny that they were getting to do this. Doing a bone luge is a thing, I just hadn’t heard of it before they were talking about it at my party. If I knew I could handle a drink, I think I would have joined in with them. But it was cool getting to watch them and they seemed to really like it (even if it was a bit messy).

We also got to try some of the new desserts! They have a buttermilk panna cotta now which had berries on top. But what was our favorite was the new Nutella bombshell (and yes, I loved that it had bombshell in the name)! It had chocolate cake that was light and fluffy topped with Nutella mousse that reminded us of the texture of ice cream but was room temperature. It was so good that I can’t even think of better ways to describe it! And we also were given the butterscotch that we’ve had in the past but now it comes with maple ice cream which was loved by all of us.

Then the chef, Jennifer O’Neill came out to the table. It was wonderful to meet her and we were so excited to tell her how much we loved the food! And we got to learn about some things that might be coming up at Wood & Vine that we can’t wait for. I can’t share that stuff yet, but trust me I will as soon as I can!

After dinner we headed across the street for the show. We couldn’t believe it was finally time to see Hamilton! We ordered our season tickets about a year and a half ago and it seemed like we would never get to this date. And we were all remembering how we realized at my birthday party last year that it marked one year until the show. And it was finally here!

The energy in the theater was electric. I think everyone was just so excited to see the show (it only opened 2 days before so it was still very new to LA). The 4 of us kept saying how we couldn’t wait for the show to start. Michelle and I both have listen to the music from the show (many, many times) and have seen videos as well. But Dani and Elisa both tried to avoid seeing stuff about the show ahead of time since that’s how they like to see shows. But we were all equally ready for the show to start.

And I’m happy to say that all the hype about the show is true and more! I don’t know how to explain how amazing this show was and how it really is an incredible piece of theater. I wish that more people could see it because it’s that great. I know that ticket prices are high and there aren’t enough seats for everyone to see it now who want to. But hopefully eventually with the tours more people can experience this show.

While it’s a pretty long show (almost 3 hours when you include the intermission), it doesn’t feel like that at all. It goes by so quickly even though it is a very full show. I could see how there could be so much more show that I’d want to see and now I’m even more motivated than ever to finish reading the book that the show is based on (I’m about 1/4 of the way through the book).

I think all of us agree that this was such a highlight of what ended up being a pretty amazing season at the Pantages. We are all hoping that we will win the Ham4Ham lottery so we can go see the show again. It’s in LA for a few months so there’s a chance that at least one of us will win. But no matter what, we are all so grateful that we were able to see it with our season tickets!

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Book Of Mormon and Marrow (or Another Night Out At The Pantages)

This past week was another show for our season at the Pantages. This time, we were seeing “Book of Mormon”!. Usually our shows are on Sundays, but because of some scheduling issues we had to move our show. So we went this past Thursday and it ended up being such an awesome night out!

It was a bit weird having the show on a Thursday because once I was done with work it almost felt like a Sunday to me. I had to keep telling myself that it was Thursday and tried to keep doing my usual Thursday stuff I have to get done. We knew that there would be traffic getting out to Hollywood so we ended up meeting a bit earlier than we probably needed to at my house to carpool out there. But one advantage of Thursday night shows is that we were able to park at a parking meter! We normally can’t because of the timing of Sunday evening shows, but it was nice to only have to spend $4 in parking at a meter instead of $16 to park in a garage.

As always, the 4 of us went to dinner before the show. And because we had such an amazing time at Wood & Vine last time, we knew we’d have to go back there! The last time, it was raining so everyone was seated inside. But this time, it was a really nice evening and we were seated outside on their patio.

Sitting inside was fun, but I think I might have liked the patio a bit more. It’s always nice getting to sit outside and it didn’t feel like we were in the middle of Hollywood. It was quiet and peaceful back there. And we were told that sometimes they screen movies back there! We were all saying that we would have to find out when they do that and go back for sure!

Ever since our first time at Wood & Vine, we have been dreaming about what food we were going to get the next time we were there. We decided to start with some things we’ve had before and some new things so we can see if we have some new favorites.

But of course, what we have been dreaming about the most and what we knew we’d be ordering for sure was the bone marrow!

This time, the bone marrow was served a bit differently but it was still as delicious as we remembered it. We got 2 orders since there were 4 of us (last time 3 of us shared 1 order and it almost wasn’t enough) and it was the perfect thing to share. It was so creamy and flavorful and I’m already craving it again! There’s something so decadent about getting bone marrow and it feels like a real luxury. But it’s actually not that expensive (at least not at Wood & Vine) so it’s nice to have an affordable treat.

After eating all that, we were all pretty full. But then the manager came over and was chatting with us and asked us about what we wanted for dessert. We said how we were debating if we had room for dessert and he said that he had already placed an order for our usual. And to our surprise, they had treated us to all 3 desserts from the menu again!

We were not expecting to be treated to dessert again and we didn’t really plan our dinner to be having dessert. But even though we were all so full, there is always room for delicious desserts! We dug into all 3 of them and agreed that they were all amazing and so worth feeling super full.

This meal was just as good (or maybe even better) than our first time to Wood & Vine and we already know that we will be back before our next show this season. And we are talking about very possibly going there before every show next season as well. I just can’t believe it took us this long to discover this amazing restaurant!

We had taken our time with dinner so we were walking over to the show with only a few minutes before curtain. Fortunately, it only takes a minute or two to cross the street and we were at our seats right before the show started.

Since this wasn’t our normal night for our season tickets, we weren’t in our normal seats. But these seats might have been a bit better. They were similar to our normal seats (2 seats in 2 rows one behind the other) but a bit further back than we were seated for the other shows. But because we were farther back we had less of an obstructed side view. But even with the slightly obstructed view, I was so excited to see the show this time because the last time I saw “Book of Mormon” it was from the very back of a theater. So being up close was a nice change.

When I saw the show in NYC, Ben Platt was in the cast. He’s an incredible actor who is now a Tony winner. I had said to my friends that I felt a bit bad for this cast because Ben Platt is a tough act to follow. But this cast didn’t disappoint at all! They were amazing and they had some really fun and different takes with the characters. It almost didn’t feel like the same show because they had so many unique things that made their characters their own. Also, I felt like the choreography was very different from the Broadway show and that adding to making it feel unique and different.

We were all laughing so hard at the show and it was so much fun seeing it again now that I knew what to expect. It was totally a perfect evening out at the theater. We’ve only got one more show in our season (finally seeing “Hamilton”!) and then we’ve got 5 months after that before our first show in our next season. It’s so crazy to think that this season is almost over. It felt like it wasn’t that long ago that we were thinking that we still had a year before seeing “Hamilton”. Now it’s just over a month away!

Gospel According To First Squad (or Enjoying A Play Reading)

I am so fortunate that I get to go to a lot of shows in LA. Most of them are with my season tickets to Pantages, but there are a few random shows I buy tickets for. But it’s a rare treat when I get to see a show that a friend is in. Even though I have a ton of actor friends, most of us work in film and tv. I watch them on tv or see them when I go to the movies, but it’s not the same as seeing someone in a live show. But this past weekend, I had the treat of getting to see some friends in a show!

The show was “Gospel According To First Squad” and the hosts of the podcast I work for, Trevor and AJ, were in it. This was a reading of the play, but I had seen this play performed previously. When I saw it before, it was actually the first time that I had met Trevor and AJ in person. I had been listening to the podcast (before I worked for it) and they mentioned doing the show. I got tickets, loved the show, finally met the guys, and soon after that they brought me on as the production coordinator! So it was pretty fun to get to see the show again.

The reading was held at the Kirk Douglas Theater which is pretty close to my house. Since it was a reading with general seating, I got there early because I wasn’t sure what the seating situation would be like. But it ended up being held in the rehearsal space in the theater so it was a nice intimate venue. I found some of the other people who work for the podcast and we all decided to sit together. And since it was a small venue, Trevor and AJ were able to see us all there supporting them right before the show started.

“Gospel According To First Squad” is about the war in Iraq and it’s a pretty serious play. But even though it’s a serious show, there are some fun comedic moments. Some of the cast from when I saw the show years ago were in this reading and some of the cast were new. But it was still such a powerful performance even with all the actors just standing and reading instead of acting it out fully like I had seen before.

Of the group that I was sitting with, I think I was the only one who had seen the show before. Since it had been years since I had seen the show, it felt new to me too. But I do enjoy getting to revisit shows (or books or movies) that I’ve seen before. I always seem to pick up on new things or view it a new way when I’m experiencing it again. There were some moments that shocked me the first time I saw it that didn’t shock me this time, but it was still powerful and I’m so glad that I was able to see the show again. And since it was a reading, it was recorded so others will be able to enjoy it in the future!

After the show was done, there was time to hang out with everyone. I’ve had the chance to see AJ a bit recently because he has been at a few SAG-AFTRA events with me. But it had been a while since I had seen Trevor so it was great to get to catch up in person. If you listen to Inside Acting, you hear them call me out from time to time. It’s usually when they aren’t sure about something and they figure I will know. I’m known for texting them when I’m listening to the podcast (I’m not there when they record the bookends to our interviews) with corrections and stuff. I think they get a bit of a kick out of me doing that and it’s almost a joke between us all now.

I joke online that these guys cause me so much trouble and frustration, but the truth is I love them both so much. Because of them and the podcast, I’ve gotten to do great things and be a part of something that I truly feel passionate about. I’m so grateful that I’ve been the production coordinator for as long as I have been and I can’t wait to see what the future of the podcast brings for us. We’ve got some really great things in the works (including our 300th episode this fall!) and being able to support Trevor and AJ in any way I can makes me so happy. It’s nice that I got the watch them perform because I know it’s something they both love and I hope that I get more opportunities to do so in the future.

The Bodyguard and Bone Marrow (or An Amazing Dinner At Wood & Vine)

This past Sunday was another Pantages night out for me and my season ticket group. Normally I write about the dinner first and show second (as that’s the order that we do things), but I’m changing it up a bit. The show that we went to see was “The Bodyguard” and I’ll be honest that we were a bit unsure how we felt about this show before seeing it.

But this was such a fun show! It was explained to us as almost like a Whitney Houston concert with a bit of plot between the songs. And that’s a great description for the show! Deborah Cox is the lead and she was incredible! The songs were so much fun, the dancing was awesome, and everyone seemed to be dancing in their seats. And if you go to see the show, don’t leave during the curtain call. There is some fun after everyone takes a bow and I’m glad we stayed for it. Even though this was a show we were all unsure of before seeing it, I highly recommend getting tickets for it if you are looking for a fun night out at the theater!

Now, back to our dinner. Our group is always trying to figure out where to get dinner before our shows. We have gone to the same few places multiple times and when I was at the LA Times Festival of Books I went to the Pantages booth and grabbed one of their restaurant guides. I sent a photo of it to the group and we decided to check out Wood & Vine. Wood & Vine is right across from the theater and I have no clue why we hadn’t been there before. But trust me, we will be making many return trips there now!

Only 3 of us from the group could go to dinner, and since it is all shared plates we got a bunch of things for us to all share. We started with some olives which were perfect and then ordered a few things that sounded good to most of us. Michelle and Dani wanted the Brussels sprouts and I figured I’d try it. I hate them but I try to try foods that I think I hate at least twice a year. These were good, but there is still something about Brussels sprouts that I don’t think I will like (sorry Wood & Vine). But I think Michelle and Dani were happy I didn’t like them because they wanted them all to themselves!

Dani and I also split the mac and cheese which was so perfect! It was nice and creamy and the cracker crust on it was a nice crunch. And we also got the scallops and pork belly (scallops were something that I didn’t like until recently and started to like after forcing myself to try them) and I think we were all in heaven eating them.

But for us, even just looking at the menu, we were most looking forward to the bone marrow. My grandpa loved bone marrow and I actually had some at a Tone It Up dinner the night that he died. But I hadn’t really had an opportunity to order it since then. So to get it at Wood & Vine was exactly what I wanted. And when the plate came to our table, we were not disappointed. It looked incredible!

There are no words to describe how delicious this was. It was heaven on a plate and even just writing about it is making me crave it again!

The entire time that we were at Wood & Vine, the staff was just so nice to us. We got to chat a bit with the manager (he was the one who described the show as a Whitney Houston concert to us) and it was just wonderful and friendly there. And while we were eating we were looking so happy and they were telling us to save room for dessert. We figured they were talking about the bone marrow since that was the last thing that was coming to the table. We thought that was the perfect “dessert” for us and when we were done eating our table was full of empty plates where the amazing food had been.

But then, the chocolate pot de creme was brought over to our table. We thought it was a mistake but the staff let us know that they actually ordered dessert for us on the house! We were thanking them and then the other two desserts from the menu, butterscotch with bourbon ice cream and an apple fry pie, appeared on our table too! We couldn’t believe that they got us all 3 desserts from the menu on the house!

We were full, but of course there is a separate part of your stomach for dessert so we all dug in. And the desserts did not disappoint! They were all decadent and delicious and at that time the last member of our group, Elisa, got there and we offered to share the desserts with her too. We were not planning on dessert (we might have ordered a bit less if we knew we were getting it), but it was a fabulous end to an incredible meal. And to have the restaurant give us the desserts on the house to make sure we could try them is above and beyond what I would ever expect from a restaurant!

We’ve already decided as a group that when we go to see “Hamilton” in about 3 months that we will be returning to Wood & Vine. It is really one of the best restaurants that I’ve gone to and there are so many other things on the menu that I want to try now. And of course, we’ve joked that we are going to order at least 2 plates of bone marrow to split between the 4 of us. And I have a feeling that we will be going there for a lot of our pre-show dinners for our shows next season as well.

Usually my nights out at the Pantages are more about the show than our pre-show dinner. But because of how amazing the food and staff at Wood & Vine were, this time the food was totally the highlight of the evening and has raised the bar on what we expect out of our pre-show dinners! Thank you Wood & Vine for your hospitality, awesome Broadway show discussion, and the desserts you gave us!

“An American In Paris” (or Not Exactly A Musical)

I’m past halfway through my current season of shows at the Pantages. It’s crazy to believe how quickly this season has gone by. When we got our tickets, we knew it would be more than a year before we would get to see “Hamilton” (which is the last show in our season). Now, we have about 4 1/2 months to go before “Hamilton”! And we’ve even already ordered our season tickets for the 2018 season at Pantages. We will get 6 shows next year and all 4 of us in the current group will be doing the season again.

I’ve said this pretty much each time I recap one of my Pantages outings, but I’m so grateful to have my group that I go to shows with. We always have fun going out and we all have pretty similar musical tastes. It seems that each show we all have similar reviews on what we liked and didn’t like. So it’s working out to be a really amazing group to have these musical adventures with.

The show that brought us beyond the halfway mark of the season was the past weekend when we saw “An American In Paris”. The musical is inspired by the film that starred Gene Kelly. I’ve seen clips of the movie, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the entire thing before. But I knew that the movie featured a lot of dancing and the music was by George Gershwin. I figured there would be a lot of dancing in the show, but I didn’t know much more about it. I’ve been very happy when I’ve been surprised by musicals in the past, so I was excited to see what this one was all about.

3 of the 4 of us in the group met up for dinner before the show. We went back to Shake Shack to try it again. I didn’t love it the first time I tried it, but I got a burger protein style this time (wrapped in lettuce instead of with a bun) and it was much tastier to me that way! So I think for my future Shake Shack meals I’ll probably do the same thing. I did get a shake again, but I skipped the fries so it didn’t feel like too much of a splurge meal for me.

This show wasn’t one that we had to change dates or anything for, so we were back in our normal seats. I love our seats because even though we have a slightly obstructed view, we are super close up to the front!

We all knew that this show would have a lot of dancing, but none of us knew exactly what the show was going to be like. And there was a lot of dancing for sure. I think that this show had more dancing than singing in it, which is a bit different for a musical. It’s not that it wasn’t good, it just wasn’t what we were expecting.

The dance numbers were really incredible. There is a ballet toward the end of the show that is over 10 minutes long that is really beautiful. But since there was no dialogue or singing during that time (and 10 minutes is a good chunk of time), it did feel less like a musical and more like a dance show. Besides the long ballet number, there were a bunch of other amazing dance numbers in the show. Some were just dance numbers and some had singing with them like what we are used to seeing in musicals.

This wasn’t my favorite show I’ve seen at the Pantages, but it was still a fun show to go to! Any night I get to go out and see a musical is a great night to me! And I do love getting to see new shows that I probably wouldn’t have seen if I didn’t have season tickets. I like the variety of shows that we have in our season this year and I know that the last 3 shows will be so much fun!

Our next show will be about 2 weeks after my surgery. I’m a bit nervous about how I’m going to feel going out that soon after, but I think that having something to look forward to is really going to help in my recovery. And my friends in my group are all more than willing to help me out with whatever I’ll need so that I can attend the show. I think that it might not be my most comfortable time at the theater, but it’s still going to be a great night out!

Finding Neverland (or An Unexpected Musical Experience)

This past week was time for another show in my Pantages season! And this time, we were seeing “Finding Neverland”. I was looking forward to the show for a couple of reasons. First, our season picks up now and we have a show almost every month now! Also, our group just decided to renew our season tickets for the 2018 season, so I know that we have so many musicals in our future. Going to the shows make me so happy, and I’m just glad I have an awesome group of friends to go with me.

Originally our tickets were for this past Sunday. But since it was Oscar Sunday, none of us wanted to drive to the theater (close to so many road closures) and we all had plans that day. We tried to find a date that we could switch our tickets to that worked for all 4 of us, but we weren’t able to make that work. So 3 of us went together this time (the 4th person went the day before the rest of us did). None of us knew what to expect for the show. I think the most that we all knew was the show is about JM Barrie, the writer of Peter Pan.

Since we didn’t go on the night our tickets were originally for, we had slightly different seats. We were still off to the side, but we were much farther back than normal. This might have been the furthest back I’ve sat since getting season tickets, but it was still a good view and I think we didn’t miss anything by sitting in the back.

We were talking about how much our friend had liked “Finding Neverland” the night before, but we were all pretty curious if we would enjoy the show as much and what would happen. And once the lights went down, I know all of us were excited to see how we would feel about it.

I have a connection to Peter Pan that made me extra excited about the show. When I was in high school, I was in the show (although I don’t think we did a musical version of it). I really wanted to play something awesome in the show, and I ended up being cast as the dog and crocodile. It was an interesting experience having to act while in giant mascot suits and not being able to say anything. I had some really fun memories of doing that show, and because of that Peter Pan has always felt special to me.

Seriously, this show was incredible! It was so magical and I was not expecting it be enjoying it nearly as much as I did. I’m probably a bit spoiled when it comes to musicals. I’ve gotten to see so many shows and have so many experiences. So to impress me takes a lot. And this show impressed me beyond anything I could have expected! There isn’t as much about the show Peter Pan as I thought there would be, but that is part of what made it great. There wasn’t much that I knew about before so it was all new to me!

During intermission, all of us turned to each other and I think we were all pretty speechless with how much we were loving “Finding Neverland”. I always hope that I will love a show I’m seeing, especially if I don’t know the show or what it’s all about, but it’s not always like that. But this show was just breathtaking and the cast was doing an amazing job. And we were all so excited to see the second act and couldn’t wait to see what else would happen.

And the second act didn’t disappoint at all. It was so emotional and it was a perfect ending for the show. We were all crying at the end and didn’t care that we might all have mascara running down our faces. It was the perfect musical to see and I’m sad that it’s only in LA for a short time because I would love to go see it again! There’s a chance I might make it to the show again, but I have to double-check the schedule and my budget to see if I can make it work.

I’m so glad that I got to see “Finding Neverland” and was so surprised by it. Many of the shows this season and next at Pantages are shows that I don’t know well so I’m hoping that I’ll have more pleasant surprises coming up. I know that not all shows can affect me the way that this one did, but I’m so glad that I had such a reaction to this show. I’ve loved so many shows in the past, but this one moved me more than possibly any show I’ve seen and I really appreciate that I got to experience it.