watch. newsies.

It was 1992. I was nearing thirteen and still bouncing back and forth between childhood and teendom. Even then, Disney was making that transition a little easier. MMC and Kids Incorporated were all the rage, and Disney Channel must be where I first saw the advertisements for a new movie, Newsies.  I had always loved a movie musical – my life basically was one as I constantly broke out into song and dance. And, what could be better than a bunch of kids who seemed close to my age, dancing in the streets and standing up to injustice? I was guaranteed to like this one.

In those days, if we wanted to know when movies were showing, we read the times in the newspaper. I saw it – an ad for a special sneak peek showing of Newsies (made even better by the fact that it would be a double feature with the recently released Beauty and the Beast.) I knew I had to go. My mom and I bought our tickets, and as I walked through the lobby, I grabbed the special Newsies Banner, a promotional paper with biographies of the cast and stories about the making of the movie.

I read that paper until the movie began (and after a couple more times).  I loved the movie. I saw it again in the theater. I sang the songs and learned the choreography. Kenny Ortega became my hero. I bought the soundtrack on cassette tape. I recorded the movie on VHS when it aired on the Disney Channel. When all the tapes wore out, I got the soundtrack on CD and later the DVD of the movie.

I should take a moment to say that I am not usually a fanatic. The only other thing I gave this much attention to was Strawberry Shortcake at age 4.  Eventually, my affinity for both turned subtle.  Yet, as many friends can attest, I practically forced them to watch Newsies the moment I found out they had not seen it, and I often said something to the affect of, “This should really be on Broadway.”

I was not the only one.

Twenty years after the movie was released, Newsies opened on Broadway. I seriously felt 13 again as I purchased presale tickets – a birthday present to myself.

Even on the sidewalk outside the doors of the Nederlander Theater I could feel the energy. And when my friend and I sat in our seats the energy seemed to have increased exponentially. I am convinced the audience was the “happiest on earth” to borrow a phrase from the Disney company.  The opening moments were more like an invitation for the audience, the lights and smiles were lighting up our faces as much as they were the cast.  And for 2 more hours or so, all our preteen dreams came true.

At the stage door, one of the security staff asked me what I thought. “Did you like it as much as the movie?” In answering, I realized the stage musical would never replace the movie, but I could love them both.  I’m so thankful to Harvey Fierstein and Alan Menken and Jack Feldman for transforming this story after all these years. Out of gratitude I won’t pick the show apart and tell you the very few things that I did not like. Instead, I will tell you I love that it was not over-produced with too complicated a set or overly done costumes. The story, the characters, the music, and the choreography got all the focus, just as it should be. Speaking of choreography, it was enthralling. I could barely blink for fear I would miss something! It helps that these  guys are incredibly athletes!

Again, I’m not the only one that felt this way. This talented cast and great show received 8 Tony Award nominations, including one for Best Musical. Tomorrow night, even more of  “The World Will Know” (I can’t help the puns) when the Tony Awards air on CBS.

The show’s run has officially been extended, so many more will have the opportunity to attend in the coming months. I suggest you “Seize the Day” and plan your trip soon.

It is worth mentioning that Newsies has made incredible use of social media as a story about the power of the press should. There is no shortage of outlets for you to explore. Here are just a few:

Soundtrack on Spotify

Carry the Banner!


listen. josh garrels.

Several friends have requested that I recommend some new music/musicians to them. In answering them, I realized how many great finds I have withheld from you lately. My apologies. I started with Seryn the other day, but next on the music list is Josh Garrels. This man has been making music for a while, but I confess, I did not know his work until I downloaded his album, Love And War And The Sea In Between, in June of last year. Even then, I didn’t give this 18-track work the attention it deserved. On a road trip home in January, I listened. And then I listened again. And every time I listen there is a new layer to discover, a new lyric to appreciate, a new rhythm to adopt. This is quality music – the kind you retire to the music room to listen to. It is incredibly meaningful.

I would recommend this album regardless the cost, but as it turns out, Josh Garrels is giving this one away. No really, click here and download. To read the story behind why it’s free, click here. And to get to know the artist, watch this.

save. on tunes and apps.

I think I am the last one standing in my demographic without an iPhone. I know this because my text inbox fills up 10 times faster than it used to. If you see me in any line, waiting for anything, I’m most likely deleting texts often from people I don’t know who replied all to an iPhone group message.  Other evidence includes the number of Instagram pictures in my twitter feed and all those emails with the automatic signature “Sent from my iPhone.”

I am not judging iPhone users; I often wish I was one of you. I weighed the options, and I just can’t justify the ongoing cost of a smartphone at this point in time. The good news is I have an iPod Touch, so on occassion, I get to experience joys of apps. And there is more good news, most of what I have was free. In fact, my most recent downloads include 1 book, 5 apps, and 2 songs that together are valued at just under $20. Thanks to Starbucks and these little cards, my total was $0.

Pick of the Week now offering Apps, Books, TV, Music, and More!

These little gems that were previously free songs (still of great value), now include codes for Apps, TV episodes, and book samples. If you are leaving a Starbucks establishment without the current freebie, chances are you are missing out because chances are, you have an iPhone (or like me, an iPod Toch).  If a Starbucks location is no where to be found, explore the Free on iTunes section in the iTunes Store each week.

listen. seryn.

Sometimes the internet feels like a treasure hunt. This feeling is usually retroactive as I really feel aimless clicking one link after another until I find the treasure I wasn’t consciously looking for.  A few months ago, I clicked a certain spot marked X on the internet map and found Seryn.  Their harmonies, reminiscent of Sacred Harp music, and their instrumentation, suggestive of Celtic and tribal music and more, were hypnotizing. Now, I share the same video introductionwith you. (And yes, you get to hear the correct pronunciation of “Seryn.”)

Immediately after watching, I wanted to see them live. And almost as immediately, I told a fellow fan of such music that they were required listening. In another serendipitous internet moment, I found out they were playing locally. There was no question we were going to this concert. I was mesmerized by seamless exchanges of instruments and the room these songs left for me, the listener, to process and ponder. Listen and consider for yourself below.

Go see a show!

save. your heart.

Happy New Year and Valentine’s Day! I hope you paid your respects to the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. and our U.S. Presidents. I hope that you did not get scared of your shadow only to run back to your hole in the ground a few weeks ago. And finally, happy Leap Day!

I thought Leap Day was an appropriate time for me to post here since it only comes around every 4 years – like the presidential elections, the Olympics, and apparently, my blog posts.

In addtion to the the many holiday wishes and great activities I have failed to share, I have almost missed telling you about Heart Month. So, here is my eleventh-hour-of-the-extra-day effort: a Heart Health To Do List.

  1. Study up. The American Heart Association website is full of resources for you and anyone you know. Explore the site to learn not just about heart attacks but heart disease and many other conditions that affect your heart.
  2. Take a Quiz. This one is so much more important than “What Downton Abbey character are you?” (more on that later). Take the online assessment to learn your risk for a heart attack. It’s a really short quiz, but it does ask for your weight, height, blood pressure, and cholesterol – a good reminder for me that I need to have my cholesterol checked as it has been a while.
  3. Get certified. Consider getting certified in CPR, but at the very least watch this short video demonstration of hands-only CPR. Then, watch the real one. Also, identify where the Automated External Defibbrilators (AEDs) are in your work place and other public venues you may visit regularly.
  4. Watch this. Yes, it’s okay to laugh… as long as you take the message seriously – as a heart attack. (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)

And if you find you need to make a change, try this simple one.

Go Red any month! (I’m the one that looks like she’s not wearing red. I promise I had on a red scarf.)

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