Do Tell / Current Playlist

Hello!

Do TellHow are things, friends? Are you enjoying the summer? I know I am! While I look to finish my current read {The Tsar of Love and Techno, as excellent as promised} and prepare for work and rehearsal, I thought I’d also pop in to post this month’s Do Tell: a look at the music I’ve been listening to as of late! I don’t share these albums because the artists are unknown, but because, such is the case with books, it’s all the more fun when you have fellow fans of the same bands to share the love with :) What music has made up your summer playlist?

Bea Miller Chapter Two RedFirst up is Bea Miller, who some may recognize from the second season of The X-Factor. I myself did not, instead reading about her most recent songs across social media. Curiosity got the best of me, and I’m thankful it did, for Chapter Two: Red {and its predecessor, Chapter One: Blue} are lyrical, emotional, and make my Spotify listening sessions all the better. Word on the street is that Chapter Three: Yellow will be out next month — and you can bet my playlist is ready.

favorite track(s): Like That

Valerie June The Order of TimeMy friends all well know my dislike of contemporary country music, but mention a folk album and I’m all ears. It’s my interest in the genre that led me to Valerie June’s The Order of Time, which I believe is, in agreement with Rolling Stone, “near-perfect front to back. It’s the best album to have playing while I brainstorm before bed, not in the least because I find her trademark banjo and distinctive voice so soothing.

favorite track(s): If And, With You

The Wild Party Original Cast RecordingA summer day rarely goes by without listening to a musical of some sort, be it the whimsical tracks from Amélie or the soaring ballads of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. My current favorite, however, hails from 1999: Andrew Lippa’s off-Broadway gem The Wild Party, based after the poem of the same name. It’s a little funky, a little jazzy, and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but I happen to love it {and I now want to track down a production of the show!}.

favorite track(s): Queenie Was a Blonde, The Juggernaut

San Cisco The WaterJust as I often pick up a book for its cover alone, I first listened to The Water, one of the band San Cisco’s many albums, based on the colorful artwork gracing the cover of the album. Fortunately, the ten tracks on the LP are just as fun and upbeat as the illustration suggests, creating a dreamy, retro-inspired soundtrack for the summer months. Evocative of beach days and nights on the dance floor, I could listen to it all week long.

favorite track(s): SloMo, Make Me Electrify

Lorde MelodramaAt some level, Lorde needs no further explanation; who hasn’t already heard the pop queen’s masterful sophomore album? Nevertheless, I would be remiss not to include Melodrama, for I don’t think I’ve listened to an album as frequently as I have hers this summer. The wait between LPs was long, but entirely worth it for a concept album that is just as thought-provoking as it is ethereal. Simply put: I’m a Lorde fan, through and through.

favorite track(s): Writer in the Dark, The Louvre

Middle KidsIf you too are a fan of HAIM {isn’t their newest album a delight?}, let me recommend to you Middle Kids, an Australian-based indie group whose six songs remind me of my favorite California sisters. With vocalist Hannah Joy at the helm and an indie-rock formula that serves them well, their EP is brimming with potential for a full-length album. I consider them a hidden gem, a band that I can only hope gets more attention in the future.

favorite track(s): Fire in Your Eyes, Doing It Right

Bleachers Gone NowGiven my Lorde love, it’s little surprise that I enjoy the music of her producer Jack Antonoff as well. A talented and well-established artist in his own right, his album Gone Now has grown into a full-fledged favorite of mine, the 90’s inspired hits often blasting while I bake in the kitchen. It hasn’t been a critical hit, but I personally dig the nostalgia and loneliness that define the album.

favorite track(s): Foreign Girls, Everybody Lost Somebody

Oh Wonder UltralifeFinally, I can credit Aneeqah with my current obsession with the British pop duo Oh Wonder. After seeing her tweet about the two singers, I was quick to look them up and even quicker to fall in love with their debut album and the singles from their upcoming LP, Ultralife. The pair isn’t afraid to acknowledge their own quirkiness, which is perhaps why I’ve fallen in love with their sound: electropop at its finest.

favorite track(s): High on Humans, Ultralife

Have a terrific Tuesday!

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Do Tell / Senior Year Wrap Up

Hi friends!

Do TellHappy Tuesday! How is your week coming along? I don’t often share personal posts here on Ciao Bella, but given the significance of senior year, I feel it’d be wrong not to mark down the memories I made in the month of May. And so, I’m taking a cue from my good friend, Paulina, and providing a recap of my end-of-the-year events  — there are quite a few! Fellow seniors, how were your final senior year festivities? To my other readers, how is your summer looking?

College Decision DayMay kicked off on a particularly stressful note with the college decision process. I was so fortunate to narrow down my list to two schools I absolutely adore {and I realize how lucky I am for these opportunities in the first place}, but my choice didn’t come as easy as I had hoped. After a long weekend of visiting both schools again and working through the pros and cons of each place with my close friends and my parents, I came to a decision: I’ll be attending Brown University next year! Since then, I’ve been sporting my Brown t-shirts with pride and filling out forms and paperwork galore. I have a few more months before I move in, but I can’t wait to see what is in store for me there {and to meet other Brunonians!}.

Ciao Bella PromCiao Bella Prom 2Ciao Bella Prom 3With the college decision out of the way, I moved to the next event: prom! I had such a lovely night last year that I feared this year wouldn’t live up to it, but I shouldn’t have worried; my friends and I all had a lovely time. {For anyone bookmarking dresses for next year, mine is from BHLDN}.

After prom, I then focused my attention to any last-minute preparations for my school’s Special Olympics pep rally. The kids and the program mean the world to me, and so, I’m a delighted the day went off without a hitch. I had to makeup my AP Calculus exam, so I myself could not attend the Special Olympics, but the athletes returned to tell me they brought home the gold :)

The Drowsy ChaperoneDuring that same week, I was in tech rehearsals for my school’s spring musical — and my last show — The Drowsy Chaperone. I had a blast stage managing the production, not in the least because so many of my friends participate in the cast and crew {they all rocked in their respective roles}. Over the past four years, the drama department has grown into what feels like my second home, and so, it was a bittersweet goodbye during closing night, filled with standing ovations, crying seniors, and a number of emotional messages. Thankfully, it won’t be long before we gather as a group once more, as I still have Tony Night, our end-of-the-year celebration, to look forward to.

Boat CruiseBoat Cruise 2Like many high schools, my own school sponsors an incredible week of senior activities, with everything from an all-night party at the local YMCA to Class Day, in which a number of seniors are honored with awards. One of my favorite activities was the senior boat cruise, a night on the water that includes an open buffet dinner and plenty of dancing. I had such a wonderful time {even if nostalgia hit hard at the end of the night}, and on a fashion note, I loved seeing everyone dressed up for the occasion.

GraduationFinally, my graduation was this past Sunday! After a busy few weeks, it was refreshing to simply relax during the ceremony and enjoy the moment. As the class president, I gave the welcome address, and though public speaking is far from being my favorite activity, I think it went well. The best part, however, was cheering on my classmates, all of whom helped to make my high school experience as wonderful as it was.

And with that, I’ve now entered into full summer mode. I’m grateful to have the next three months open, with the exception of work and rehearsals, for time with my friends and family. I’m hoping to make the most out of this summer, because I know my orientation will be here before I know it.

Have a lovely day!
B

Do Tell / Stage Managers’ Day

Hello!

Do TellHow was your weekend, friends? Mine was all sorts of wonderful: New Girl marathons {I’m only a few years late}, a birthday breakfast for my sister, and a night in with friends all making my pile of homework easier to stomach. Today, nothing’s on my agenda save a yoga class in the afternoon, so I’m hoping to finish Jason Reynolds’ Ghost and wrap up spirit week preparations – as class president, the days leading up to the homecoming game keep me busy.

October might as well be the month of celebration, as today is a holiday of its own: International Stage Managers’ Day! As someone who has stage-managed numerous school and community productions, this day is, naturally, near and dear to my heart. In honor of the occasion, I wanted to share five reasons why I consider theater so important in a new edition of Do Tell. While they are not unique to the performing arts, together, I feel the reasons below capture why theater is such a meaningful part of my life – and those of many others! Are you a theater fan?

waitressWhen I first became involved in theater at my middle school, it was just another extracurricular activity; many of my friends had a role in either the cast or crew, the musical seemed like an easy way to transition into a new grade, and helping out with costumes satisfied my dream of working in fashion {clearly, I’ve since changed my mind}. However, with each show I’ve participated in since then, I’ve come to appreciate theater as an art form, something of both aesthetic and intellectual value. Even when I have a hand in bringing a performance together, I continue to be in utter disbelief when the play or musical finally moves from pages in a script to a fluid piece of art on stage, complete with costumes, props, and set pieces that all serve to bring the story – and message! – to life.

shuffle-alongMy love of shows and my love of books go hand in hand: both are forms of storytelling, allowing audience members and readers respectively a window into another time, place, or way of living – plays act as a “slice of life,” if you will. I hate to use the word “escape” in this sense, as that implies to see a show is to ignore reality, when it is often the exact opposite: I believe the best productions mirror the world outside, teaching us a lesson or two about ourselves and others, even if they’re set a few hundred years back from now. And if the characters sing and dance while doing it? All the better, in my humble opinion :)

she-loves-meWhether you are in the starring role or simply moving set backstage, if you’ve ever worked on a production, you know of the bond that often forms between cast and crew members. Late night rehearsals and tech week schedules lend themselves well to quickly formed friendships! But even within the audience, community can be found; whenever I’m calling a show, I love to anticipate the laugh that ripples through the auditorium with a funny scene, the intense hush that comes at the height of a drama, or even the snippets of conversation as people exit the theater. Those moments are hard to beat.

hamiltonBroadway and the theater world at large still have a long way to go in terms of diversity; like many other forms of entertainment, the representation of different races, genders, and disabilities leave much to be desired. That said, I’ve still found that with the assistance of social media, theater is more accessible than ever, and I think that only goes to show how much it has grown – and the potential it has in the future! I may never see Hamilton in person, for example, but the cast album is on Spotify, print and digital interviews are in abundance, and videos shared by the cast only spread the show’s influence. And, of course, one can’t discount the power of local theater. Quality can range, sure, but in many communities, an excellent production is only minutes away from your door at a far cheaper price than what you’ll find in NYC.

the-color-purpleFinally, it’s difficult to expand on the idea that theater is powerful, but it’s true: why else would so many people say that theater has changed their lives for the better? Hours of rehearsing can be draining, shows can seem repetitive by closing night, and nothing pains my stage manager heart more than a technical glitch, but nevertheless, I’ve found few things replicate the excitement I feel when the lights dim and the curtain opens, regardless if I’m on headset or in an auditorium seat. I can’t wait to see what future productions have in store.

Have a lovely Monday!
Bella