Tag Archives: theater

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.

Game Of Thrones The Musical (or A GOT Newbie)

A little bit ago, I wrote about my friend Erin and her “Once Upon A Time: The Rock Opera”. Even though I don’t watch the show the spoof is based on, I had so much fun and it was really great! It’s not easy for a spoof show to be something for fans of the show and newbies alike, but that’s exactly what Erin did with the rock opera. So when Erin told me that she was a part of a new spoof show, I said I wanted to see it even before I knew what the show it was based on was!

This time, she was a part of “Game of Thrones: The Musical”. I’ve never really seen “Game of Thrones”, but that didn’t stop me from being so excited to see the show! Erin was so generous and gave me a ticket plus an extra ticket to bring a friend. And I ended up bringing my friend Camber who is familiar with the show. I figured that she could help explain anything to me that I wasn’t able to understand.

The show is at the Macha Theatre in West Hollywood so it was pretty easy for me to get to (plus they have a parking structure right across the street). The theater had a nice bar (I can’t drink right now but Camber was able to get a great drink) and when the doors opened we were able to get some great seats in the second row where we had a perfect view of the stage.

And just like with the rock opera, this musical was designed very nicely for fans of the show and people who didn’t know the show. There were plenty of jokes that I didn’t get but everyone around me seemed to think were hysterical. But more often than not I felt like I understood everything and was able to follow the storyline of the show.

There were 12 original songs for the show and they were all so funny and I was laughing so hard during almost all of them. Again, the songs had some inside jokes that I missed but I never really felt like I was excluded or lost while watching. That is such a hard balance to find because they didn’t want to dumb down the show for newbies like me to understand everything.

When intermission happened, Camber was able to explain some things to me that I didn’t understand and also explained some of the jokes. I was telling her how my friend Erin was in this and my friend Ace (Erin’s husband) was in the show as well. I was showing Camber the photos from when I saw Ace in “Aladdin” at Disneyland and she thought that was pretty funny. Ace’s character in this show is nothing like Aladdin.

The second half of the show, was just as good as the first. And when it was done I was a little disappointment because I was enjoying myself so much! I never really cared to watch “Game of Thrones” before, but now I really want to! The show is based on a lot of the first season, so I’m thinking about watching the first season and then going back to see the musical again. Then I will be able to get so many more of the jokes!

After the show was done, the cast came out to take photos with everyone. Of course, Camber and I had to take advantage of that!

I got to talk to Erin and Ace after the show to tell them how much I liked it (they both knew I don’t watch the tv show and were pleased to know that I didn’t feel too lost watching it). I really wanted to talk to them more and tell them more about my favorite parts of the show, but there were so many people who wanted to talk to them and I didn’t want to take up more of their time. But hopefully I can tell them later (or they will see this post and know!).

If you are in Los Angeles or will be out here between now and March 12th, I highly recommend checking out the show! The tickets are cheaper if you buy them online (and you can use the promo code “king” for an extra discount!), plus then you don’t have to take the risk that the show will be sold out at the door! And if you aren’t in LA, you can download the soundtrack to the musical. The lyrics are so funny and I think that any fan of the show will love the songs. But I really do think everyone should go to see this show. It’s tough to find great theater that is affordable, and this is one of the better shows I’ve seen. I could see this being on a tour and being a big hit soon. So if you go now, you can say that you knew it before the world knew about it!

Thank you again Erin, Ace, and the entire cast of “Game of Thrones The Musical” for inviting me to see the show this past weekend! I had an amazing time and I really am hoping that I can come back to see the show again before you close!

Another Night At The Rockwell (or Jeff Goldblum and Jazz)

When we were at the Rockwell to see the Hocus Pocus musical, we heard that there were still seats for that coming Wednesday to see Jeff Goldblum. While that sounds cool anyway, my friend Michelle was beyond excited. She’s been wanting for years to see Jeff Goldblum perform and had been telling me about it over the past month. So when we discovered there were still a few seats left for that show, we bought them immediately!

Jeff Goldblum (from “Jurassic Park” and “Independence Day”) plays jazz with his band at Rockwell pretty frequently. A lot of times the show is sold out before we knew it, so it was just perfect that we were able to get some seats. I didn’t know too much about the show going into it, but I’m always up for a fun night out and I knew this would be interesting!

When we ordered our seats, there were almost no options left. We pretty much could only decide if we wanted to sit at the bar or sit at a table. We opted for a table and I’m glad we did. There is a 2 item minimum for the shows, and I knew we’d be ordering dinner. And since we got there a bit closer to showtime, we would be eating while the show was happening.

As always, the menu looked really good to me.

rockwell-menu

I ended up ordering some soup and some truffle fries. Not the healthiest meal, but it was what I was craving so I decided to go for it. Plus, I figured we wouldn’t be ordering dessert so I was fine getting a bit of a splurge for dinner.

After we ordered, we noticed a bit of commotion behind us. I turned around and noticed that Jeff Goldblum was walking around and taking photos with everyone! I’m so used to events where the cast isn’t out before the show started, so I thought this was very cool. Since Michelle is a big fan of his, I was saying that she should go over to get a photo. She didn’t want to, but when he came over to our table and started talking to us, there was no way we could miss this opportunity!

jeff-goldblum

He was seriously so cool and really just wanted to go to everyone at the show to make sure they were already having a good time and to thank them for coming to the show! I’m not sure what I was expecting as far as interaction goes with him, but this was not what I thought would happen. He was so down to earth and really a nice guy who wanted to make sure the audience was having the best time ever!

Before we knew it, the show was starting. The band was really great and played some awesome jazz songs. And if you are familiar with Jeff Goldblum from his movies, he plays music exactly how you would imagine him to do it. It was really entertaining and even though we were in the back of the room and had a slightly obstructed view, it was just perfect.

jazz-show

Between each song, he would get a piece of paper with movie trivia, guess the political quote questions, or options of would you rather. It was so funny and even though I didn’t really know many answers to anything I enjoyed hearing his commentary on the questions and the random answers people shouted out from the audience.

There was about an hour of show, then a 10 minute intermission, and then about another hour of the show. I could have listened to it for much longer because it was so entertaining, but that was all the show they had that night. I’m not even that big of a jazz fan, but the music was played really well and with a lot of skill and everyone in the band was so into it that you couldn’t help but enjoy each song and think it’s one of the greatest songs you’ve heard.

Michelle and I have already said that we will totally be going back to this show another time. As of right now, it only shows this Wednesday available (he plays on Wednesdays when he isn’t busy working as an actor). But he said at the end of the show that this week wasn’t the last week and that there would be more shows coming up. We are getting more and more familiar with the Rockwell venue and where we like to sit, so we are going to pick a show where we can get seats at the table that we like.

I still smile when I think about all the awesome adventures I’ve had lately. This is exactly the mood booster I needed in my life. The election got me down quite a bit. And while I’m not feeling bad about the liver tumor, knowing that there are still some unanswered questions makes me a bit stressed and tempted to google things to try to find more answers (which isn’t the best thing right now). I wish that I had more fun money in my life that could be used for events like this, but at least I know I’ve got a couple of other things scheduled that I can look forward to!

Hocus Pocus (or Musical #3 For The Week!)

Even though I saw “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” twice in a week, I still had one more musical to go for the week! A month or so ago, I saw that there was going to be a musical parody of “Hocus Pocus”. It was being performed at the Rockwell, and I had loved when I saw the show there before. My friends Dani and Michelle were both interested and we picked the first date that we could get tickets.

hocus-pocus

We didn’t think about the show being the week after our first show for Pantages, so it was pretty funny when we realized it was going to be a musical filled week. But it ended up being a really perfect situation and I’m so glad that we did it!

Last time I was at the Rockwell, we got tickets through a ticket reseller so we didn’t get to pick our seats. This time, we did have a choice and we found seats at a table right next to the runway going through the middle of the room. We figured we’d have a perfect view of the show and were so excited to have amazing seats.

When we got there, we were the first ones seated at our table. Shortly after sitting down, the other group seated at our table sat down and we made a bit of small talk. It’s pretty hard not to talk when you are all squished together. The other group we were sitting with were really nice and they had some friends involved in the show and the venue so we were meeting quite a few people there. And we ended up finding out that the woman sitting right next to me is Ariana Grande’ mom! That was pretty awesome and we thought it was just a funny LA type of night.

When the show started, we really didn’t know what we were in for but we had heard the show was great! And great didn’t even begin to explain it! This show was probably one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life! The performers were all insanely talented and this show was so funny that we were all laughing so hard we were crying.

the-show

We were expecting there to be songs that were created just for this musical parody, but they ended up using lots of popular songs. I’m glad they did that because the music was recognizable and it really made everything that much funnier. Each song they used was perfect and I wish there was a soundtrack to buy because I would totally listen to it over and over!

the-witches

One of the fun things about being at a show at the Rockwell is it is a dinner theater venue. We ordered an appetizer to share, we each got an entrée, and then we split a dessert. Dani and Michelle ordered drinks, but I just stuck with water. We tried to get our bill when the show had the intermission (we didn’t want to be stuck trying to pay at the end of the show), and the waiter said that it was already paid for. It turns out that Ariana Grande’s mom decided to pay for our meals and drinks! It was so unexpected and we couldn’t thank her enough. I wish there was something more we could have done to thank her because it really was so nice for her to do that!

At the end of the show, we said goodbye to the other group seated at our table (and thanked Ms. Grande again several more times) and headed back to the car to drive home. All 3 of us could not stop talking about how much fun the night was and how we wished the show was going to have a lot more shows so we could possibly go again (the show is closing this weekend if anyone is trying to go). We really lucked out in getting these tickets and hearing about this show, and we’ve discovered there are several more shows coming up at the Rockwell that we are hoping to go to in the near future.

More Musicals! (or Another Season At Pantages)

Earlier this year, the Pantages announced the 16-17 season for musicals. This past season I didn’t have season tickets (I did the Black Friday deal instead) but I had them the season prior and it was so much fun! And most of the shows in the coming season looked pretty awesome so I was happy to order season tickets. Plus, the last show of this coming season is “Hamilton” and for what we paid for our season, single ticket buyers will be paying for that show!

We ordered our season tickets so long ago that it seemed like the first show would never get here! But this past Sunday, we finally had our first show of the season! This time, there are 4 of us in the group for the tickets and since we all live pretty close to each other we are planning on carpooling for the shows. We decided to go a bit early on Sunday so we could get some dinner before the 6:30pm show.

Fortunately there are a bunch of places to eat near Pantages, so we should be able to try a bunch of different restaurants over the 7 show season that we have. And most of them are quick service places so we should always have time before the show to go get dinner. While we were eating, we were talking a lot about how excited we were to have our first show of the season. The show was “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and while I saw the Tony Awards performance recently, I have never seen the show or the movie. I had no idea what I was in for, but I like to be surprised.

hedwig

When we bought our season tickets, it wasn’t easy to find 4 seats in a row in the price range we wanted to be in (we wanted the cheapest seats). So we ended up getting 2 seats in one row and 2 seats directly behind those. It worked out pretty well for us and we are pretty close to the stage! And being off to the side does cause occasional sight line issues, but it’s never been that big of an issue at any of the shows I had been to before.

pantages-group

It seemed like a lot of people in the audience were season ticket holders like us. And I’m thinking a lot of them didn’t really know what they were in for with this show (maybe they just got the season tickets to be able to see “Hamilton”?). While most of the audience seemed to enjoy the show, there were more walk outs during this show than I’ve ever seen. And I saw people covering their ears during songs as well.

Personally, I really enjoyed the show. I wasn’t expecting it to be a concert style show (I thought there would be scenes taking place in between the songs), but it was a nice difference compared to most of the musicals that I see. I thought the songs were all done really well and the set was fun to look at. While the tour of this show has been advertising that it stars Darren Criss, he doesn’t perform on Sunday evenings so we got to see Lena Hall in the lead role. She actually won a Tony for playing the other part, but she did amazing in the show!

I think we all agreed that this show was a great way to kick off a new season of musicals. We will pretty much get to see a show every month for the next several months with our last show being “Hamilton” in August. Each of the shows we get to see should be a really fun adventure and there’s only 1 show in the season that I’ve already seen (“Book of Mormon”) and I think all the other shows look really good.

Even though season tickets are a splurge, it really makes me so happy to go to the shows and I think that it’s so worth it. There have been so many times where I didn’t do something I wanted to because of the cost and I think that sometimes you need to put mental health above financial health. I love having these shows to look forward to and going out to more cultural events does seem to make the quality of my life so much better. So here’s to another full season of musical adventures!

Dinner And Carole King (or The Best Musical Ever!)

This past week was the 3rd musical in the Black Friday deal my friend Dani and I got at Pantages. It was actually the last show Dani can go to (she’s missing our last show but I’m bringing another friend to it) and our season tickets for next season don’t start until the fall. So this may be our last musical together for a while!

This time, we were seeing “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”. When I saw that this was a part of the Black Friday deal, I knew I wanted to see it. Dani wasn’t totally sure on it, but she trusted me and we got the tickets with our deal back in November.

We drove over to the theater together (we don’t usually take the train for weeknight shows because we get out so late and the train isn’t as fast as the freeway at night), but we got there early enough to grab some dinner before the show. We weren’t sure where we wanted to go, but we saw Greenleaf Chop Shop and it sounded good to both of us.

Greenleaf

Greenleaf is mainly a salad place, but when Dani and I sat down at the bar (the line to order at the counter was really long) we saw that they had way more than salads! We ended up ordering some spinach artichoke dip, chicken nachos, and goat cheese pizza to split between us. We also got some dessert because we felt like we needed something sweet too. I think it’s pretty funny that even though we were at a salad place, salad wasn’t part of our meal (technically Dani did order a side salad, but basically our meal was all non-salad foods).

After we were done with dinner, we walked down the street to the theater. It was a bit crowded because it was getting close to showtime, but we were able to get to our seats with time to spare.

Beautiful

We really lucked out with the seats we got for our Black Friday deal. For all of our shows, we are in the center orchestra. I don’t know how we got such great luck, but I love it!

While we were waiting for the show to start, we both were admiring how awesome the Pantages Theater looks. It’s really so beautiful and we were both saying how grateful we feel that we get to experience shows like this so close to where we live.

Pantages

Once the show got started, I knew that we had made the right choice seeing this show. It was so incredible! It was a jukebox type musical that reminded me of a mix of “Jersey Boys” and “Motown”. It had the storytelling elements from “Jersey Boys” but since Carole King wrote for so many musical acts there were a lot of different musical groups portrayed in the show similar to how “Motown” was.

The songs were all so great and every time a new one started you could hear the moment the audience recognized the song and everyone was excited to hear it. I recognized pretty much every song and I think they were sung so well and the choreography was spot on. Dani and I were both laughing and smiling so much during the show and I was just in awe of what we were getting to see.

Not only were the performers awesome, I loved the sets and costumes. The sets were beautiful and so impressive (especially considering this is a touring show). I loved how they were so simple but so elaborate at the same time. And the quick changes that the actors had to do in the show were almost like magic tricks! There was one quick change that was done on stage in view of all of us and I wish I could watch that part over and over again. And there was another quick change where the performers were wearing one thing when they walked behind a small wall, walked behind the wall to the other side, and emerged with a different outfit! It just made me so happy seeing all the cool creative things that were in this show.

But what I loved the most about this show was how it was the story about not giving up on your dream. It’s about going for what you love and making sure that you know at the end of the day you did everything you could to make that happen. And it was just inspiring to see just a small snippet of someone’s life when they have had a very long career in a creative pursuit.

I’ve had a couple of friends tell me that my favorite musical will be “Hamilton” after I get to see that next year in August, but I really don’t know how something can top “Beautiful”. This was just incredible and I’m even trying to figure out if there is a way I can go to see it again because I want to experience the show at least one more time (and I almost never see a show more than once).

42nd Street (or So Much Tap Dancing!)

Even though my friend Dani and I got our Black Friday deal for the Pantages Theater a while ago, most of the shows in our deal weren’t until this summer. We had already seen “Mamma Mia”, but our second show from the deal was this week. This week, our show was “42nd Street” which I had never seen before! So I was pretty excited to check it out (plus we had some amazing seats!).

Before the show, Dani and I got some dinner at a sports bar on the same block as the theater. Dani has had some crazy work schedules lately so I haven’t seen her at workouts for a bit. So I had to update her on my running and all other things Orangetheory. And she had to fill me in on the craziness of her life! We actually were able to get to Hollywood pretty quickly, so we had a relaxing dinner and didn’t feel rushed at all.

We walked back over to the theater and I noticed a step and repeat set up right in the entry of the theater. Turns out, this show was the opening night of “42nd Street”, so they was some media outlets interviewing a couple of celebrities who were there. It was kind of cool to see, and since Dani doesn’t work in the entertainment industry I think she thought it was fun to see how the press line works.

With the Black Friday deal that we did, we got to choose any seats we wanted in the theater. Dani was the one who organized the tickets and she just selected the best seats available. We were toward the front of the orchestra just off of center! The seats were amazing and I had no trouble seeing the stage (except for someone 2 rows in front of me that had a super tall hairstyle).

42nd Street

We also checked out our seats for next season as we walked to our seats. We got a great deal where we are toward the front of the orchestra, but we are farther off to the side than we are used to. I was worried that sitting so far off to the side might make it tough to see everything on stage, but when we were checking out the seats we got for next season (we have 4 seats that are split up between 2 rows) I was pleasantly surprised to see that the seats are awesome and we should have no issues seeing the shows! Our next season tickets don’t start until November, but I’m already so excited for it!

We were in our seats close to when the show was starting, and the show started off with an amazing tap dance number! I’ve seen tap dancing in shows before (“Newsies” had some), but this show was almost all tap dancing! I was so impressed not only by the dancing but by how the performers could still sing after dancing like crazy for minutes! That is a serious cardio workout!

The show was really great! The cast was all “unknowns” but they did an incredible job and the opening night performance went really smoothly! The show was a lot less serious than some that I’ve seen in the past, but sometimes you just want to see a show that is light and fluffy and it was perfect for that!

My next show will be in a few weeks and then I have the last of my Black Friday shows in July. Then it might feel like a long wait until November when our 7 show season starts. But I know I’m so incredibly lucky that I have the chance to do this. Not only did I have the money saved up to buy tickets (or we found an amazing deal like the $99 for 4 shows Black Friday deal), but I’ve got a great theater like the Pantages not too far from me where I can see these shows! Every show I see inspires me more and more and I love that I have theater back in my life again!

Working On Money Priorities (or What’s Worth The Splurge)

I’ve really been working lately on spending less. I know it’s important for me to do this because I need to use that extra money toward my credit card debt (and not creating more debt). And obviously, there are some costs that I can’t avoid (bills and stuff), but I’ve gotten more serious at taking a look at my fun expenses.

I’m sure it sounds like I spend a ton because I go to Disneyland pretty often and now I have a pass to Universal Studios as well. This Disneyland pass was pretty much half paid for by recycling ink. That option won’t work for me in the future (the loophole that let me do that was fixed), but pretty much what I paid out of pocket was the same as 2 days at Disneyland. And my pass has the parking so I’m not paying $18 each time to park. I know I’ll go more than 2 times in a year so it’s easily worth it. And my Universal Studios pass was something I got at Costco for almost the same price as a 1 day ticket. The issue with my pass is that you can’t use it on weekends at all, but since I will probably only go on Mondays that isn’t an issue for me as well.

I am still spending money on other fun things, but I’m really trying to limit them to fun experiences like my season tickets to the Pantages or other shows (I just got tickets to see “The Little Mermaid” live at the Hollywood Bowl soon!). And when I do tickets like those, I’m working hard at finding good deals or making sure what I’m paying is a good value (like the season tickets being about $300 for all 7 shows). Part of why I love going to so many shows is it keeps me busy. And when I’m busy I’m not focusing on food.

And speaking of food, one of the biggest savings I’ve had lately is food related. I set the monthly challenge not to order any delivery food in March, and I’ve been able to keep that up so far this month too! I’m not doing as great about cooking from scratch, but even getting microwave food from the grocery store is cheaper than delivery food. When I’m not cooking, I’m going out to eat and that tends to be with friends so it makes it more of an outing than just eating. My grocery bills have gone up a bit since I’m eating at home more, but the amount they have gone up is significantly less than what I was spending on delivery food so that is a win for me.

But I think the biggest savings for me as been shopping. Mainly buying books, but I’m trying to be better about shopping in general. I used to buy a lot more stuff. Now, if I’m buying things online it tends to be household stuff I need or workout clothes. I’m not buying as much “normal” clothes because honestly I’m not in “normal” clothes that often. And even on non-workout days I usually wear my workout pants because they are more comfortable to work in.

But my book spending was pretty bad in the past. I used to be a huge library person, then there was an ordeal with my library card not working (I don’t know what happened and neither do they). Instead of doing the easy thing and just registering for a new card, I took advantage of how easy it is to get books on my Kindle. My old e-reader was much more difficult to get books on so just being able to press a button and order a book was so fun! But the spending was adding up. And while most of the books I buy I love and read over and over again, there were some that I got because they were on sale for $0.99 that I’ve read once and that’s it.

So recently I finally got a new library card and I’ve been taking advantage of it so much!

Library Card

It is so easy to get books on my Kindle from the library. Yes, I have to use my computer to get them. But then they are sent wirelessly to my Kindle and are on the device for 21 days. So most of the time I can read them more than once if I want to. I actually went a little overboard with putting Kindle books on hold from the library and had to delay a couple of holds (I had gotten 8 library books available at once). But I’m starting to find my groove with the library again and I feel like an idiot that I waited so long and spent so much money. I can’t go back and change it, but I’m glad I’ve changed now.

I know that there are still a few more places I can save money in my monthly spending. I want to get my grocery bills down a bit more as well as my household stuff (cleaning supplies, paper goods, and those things). I’m going to do some price checking between stores near me and Amazon and hopefully I can figure out the best options for me to maximize my money.

I’ve got a lot of fun things coming up this summer and a lot of them will involve money. But hopefully with the cutting back that I’ve been able to do I will not put myself into more debt just to do them.