High Five / 14

Hello friends!

My heart is heavy today, and my mind routinely returns to the events that happened in Charlottesville. It, sadly, comes as no surprise given the hateful rhetoric and underlying violence from the alt-right and silent white supporters that has festered for years and intensified in recent months, but I nevertheless found the news deeply painful and angering to watch (and I can only imagine the hurt and harm it has caused to marginalized groups who are no strangers to this treatment). Nevertheless, I’m processing the events from this weekend as I always do: by reading often and reading widely, so if you have any articles you have found of help, please share.

With all that said, I’ve had this post in the works over the past few days with plans to post it this morning. I decided to still share it, not to turn a blind eye to what’s happening in America – and largely, the world ­– but instead to stand as a reminder, mainly for myself: that one can discuss books and theatre and art AND make a stand against bigotry, online and/or off the screen (Author Adam Silvera summed this thought up nicely last night). I want to know how your week went. I also want to know your thoughts on current events and actions you hope to take. I’m one to think we can discuss both here in the blogosphere.

Here’s a new High Five to kick things off.

High Five 14[1] I would ask if you’ve heard of The Bold Type, but I think it would be better to question: who hasn’t caught wind of Freeform’s newest television show? After reading a number of glowing reviews across various platforms, I figured it was high time for my sister and I to check it out ourselves. I’m glad we did, as we were both hooked minutes into the pilot. Starring the fierce trio of Aisha Dee, Meghann Fahy, and Katie Stevens, the show follows the lives of three fashion magazine staffers as they encounter both the highs and lows of their emerging careers, friendships, and romantic relationships. If it sounds like an idyllic representation of millennial city life, I won’t lie: it sometimes is, but it’s also wholly refreshing to see a program tackle contemporary issues – social media trolling, breast cancer awareness, racial profiling, and numerous others – with such attention and grace. To put it simply? I’m a fan – and plan to watch through to the finale when it airs in September.

[2] After wrapping up the tenth and final episode of A Piece of Work, I was – and continue to be! – on the search for new podcasts to listen to (I know, I know, I’m incredibly late to the podcast craze, but better late than never?). I have the Rookie edition to try out next, but in the meantime, I’ve enjoyed listening through the archives of Switched on Pop, a podcast devoted to analyzing the hit songs of the radio. Run by musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding, it’s a fascinating take on such songs as “Bad Liar,” “Sign of the Times,” and “I’m the One.” I find them both engaging and funny hosts, and as someone with little musical theory knowledge, I like that they break down the tracks in great detail, explaining each aspect of the song’s popularity as they go. It’s definitely worth a listen, whether you enjoy the Top 40 playlist or not! Do you have any podcast recommendations? I’m all ears.

[3] With The Great Comet on its way out and Bandstand nearing its end, Broadway is ready to welcome the newest season of shows, among them a revival of Once on This Island (the cast looks incredible), a musical adaptation of Roman Holiday (love me anything inspired by Audrey), and a new piece titled The Band’s Visit, based off of an indie film of the same name. While there’s still a few months until previews open for The Band’s Visit, my theatrical curiosity couldn’t wait to see what the story was about, and so, my sister and I held an impromptu movie night earlier this week. Released in 2007 by Israeli screenwriter and film director Eran Kolirin, the movie brings an Egyptian ceremonial police orchestra to Israel after a miscommunication, forcing them to find shelter for the night with a local small restaurant owner. Neither Lulu nor I had any idea what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised in the end: the film is both heart-warming and hopeful, and we’re now looking forward to seeing its translation to the stage.

[4] As we’re all about recommendations this Sunday morning, can I suggest a new band to add to your playlist? I’ve been listening to English folk rock band The Staves to no end as of late, but I like to think it’s for good reason. The three sisters’ signature harmonies know no match, their delicate blend of rock, folk, and pop is music to my ears, and they’ve got an admirable style to boot. I haven’t heard word on a third album – here’s hoping one is in the works – but if you too would like to check them out, my current favorite tracks are “Tired as F*Ck,” “Blood I Bled,” and “Train Tracks.” What music have you enjoyed this summer?

[5] Finally, this summer has flown right by, but I’ve tried to fill it with as much day trips, good books, and, of course, performing arts as possible! I saw a performance of American Idiot this past Friday (my friend rocked it in the role of Whatshername) and just recently wrapped up the last weekend of shows for my local community theater’s production of Smokey Joe’s Café, a musical revue using the songs of Leiber and Stoller – think “Hound Dog,” “Charlie Brown,” and “Stand By Me.” I had the pleasure of stage managing and running the light board, and though the tech week was intensive, I’m delighted I was able to fit in another musical before my move-in date. The fun was furthered by the fact that the cast, crew, and band all demonstrated such a range in age and experience –  I find it so neat to see how people work their love of theatre in their everyday lives! I’m looking forward to diving head-first into the Brown theatre community, but before that fun, I’ve been playing the Smokey Joe’s cast album to count down the days.

Thank you, as always, for reading. Wishing you all a lovely Sunday.

With love and fight and activism on my mind,
B

High Five / 13

Hi friends!

High Five 13
Happy Sunday! How was your week? Are you finding time to read and relax? I have a few assignments to wrap up and a number of emails to catch up on, but my Sunday otherwise looks quiet, a welcome pace after a busy week at school. All that said, it’s been a few weeks since I last shared a High Five – we’re long overdue for a chance to catch up! Here are a few highlights from my March, but tell me first, what’s new on your end?

[1] To start, if you’re in need of a new artist to add to your spring playlists, let me recommend my current favorite: Nadia Reid, a talented singer and songwriter from New Zealand. I stumbled upon her second album, Preservation, earlier this month, and it was, as they say, love at first sight. Taking an alternative approach to the folk genre, Reid lends her gorgeous, haunting voice to each track, including my favorites “Richard” and “Te Aro.” Her first album, Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs, is just as good, and both, I’ve found, are perfect to listen to while baking or studying. In short, she deserves a listen – or more! What music have you been enjoying lately?

[2] My sister and I are slowly, but surely, making our way through this past season’s set of Oscar nominees: Arrival was a stunning depiction of language and science, Loving brought history to life through a stellar cast, and Moonlight, as promised to us, was nothing short of incredible. Our latest pick? Jackie, the biopic that takes audiences into the life of Jackie Kennedy in the week following her husband’s death. Starring Natalie Portman as Jackie herself, the film deserves the high praise it has received; the costumes and sets are both impeccable, the cinematography had my eyes glued to the screen, and Portman carries the story with a breathtaking performance. I want to watch it again to catch the little details, but after that, it’s on to Lion. Have you seen Jackie?

[3] If I’m not in a show, the next best thing is seeing the work of my pals who are! A number of my friends were cast in a local production of My Fair Lady, the classic musical that follows Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle and phonetics professor Higgins. I haven’t seen many musicals outside of the contemporary realm, and so, I was curious to see how they would pull it together. I needn’t had feared; the company never fails to put on a good show, and this one was no exception, with high-energy numbers, a neat set, and terrific leads {I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have “With a Little Bit of Luck” stuck in my head all day}. Furthermore, seeing the story on stage has me wanting to watch the film adaptation once more. Thankfully, I’m never one to turn down an Audrey Hepburn movie night :)

[4] I too was recently involved in a show: Eurydice, my school’s one-act play festival entry. The cast and crew competed in the semi-final round among several other talented schools last weekend, and though we didn’t move on, we all enjoyed making friends with students who love theater just as much as we do. For me, it was a bittersweet end to an activity that defined my four years of high school {we former directors are all above}, telling of how quickly this school year is going by! It wasn’t the only sign that senior year is entering its end: I was accepted into one of my top schools this past week {Go Ephs!}, my friends and I have picked out our prom dresses {I have this floral piece now hanging in my closet}, and my fellow class officers and I are already discussing our unofficial traditions {Senior Skip Day, anyone?}. With the last day of school only two months away, I’m doing my best to soak each and every memory in.

[5] Finally, if you have an hour to spare today, consider reading the first issue of Stay Bookish, a new online magazine devoted to YA literature. I was delighted to join the staff – headed by the wonderful Hazel – as a designer, and I was even more excited to see the hard work of the entire team come together! I don’t want to speak for the entire group, but I certainly had a blast working on it, and with everything from an interview with Becky Albertalli to a playlist based on this spring’s releases, I believe there’s an article in there for every bookworm. Rehearsals and homework prevented me from designing more than a few articles this time around, but I look forward to contributing more for our second edition. In the meantime, do you have any zine recommendations?

Have a lovely rest of your weekend!
B

High Five / 12

Hello!

high-five-12How are things, friends? Anything planned for your Sunday? Yesterday kicked off my February break, and so I’m relishing the time I have at home, taking the opportunity to catch up on calculus problems and yearbook spreads, try a few recipes I’ve bookmarked {like this one!}, and make my way through the growing pile of books by my bed {Currently on my nightstand is Corey Ann Haydu’s The Careful Undressing of Love and Mara Wilson’s memoir Where Am I Now?}. 

This vacation also gives me the chance to return to Ciao Bella – it’s been left untouched too long for my liking, if only because I wanted to wrap up my first semester and start my second on a good note. As a means to catch up – and a way to jump back into this blogging thing once again – I thought I’d share another edition of High Five. Any highlights of your own to share?

[1] First, Teen Vogue has been receiving widespread acclaim as of late, and for good reason: their editorial and artistic direction has been top-notch over the past several months. Editor-in-Chief Elaine Wentworth, digital director Phillip Picardi, and creative director Marie Suter are a team to be reckoned with, and I’ve found their content not only enjoyable, but informative, with a range of everything from an interview with their cover model Bella Hadid to fact checks on the Trump administration. ith the recent unfounded attacks on the press, I can think of no better way to resist such claims than to support the publications that consistently do it right. The new issue, a different approach from previous years in that it’s pitched more as a “collectible” than a monthly magazine, has yet to hit my mailbox, but I’ll be sitting down to read it cover to cover as soon as it does.

[2] More often than not, if I’m not reading or working on homework, you can find me at rehearsal, a statement that sums up my afterschool schedule over the past few weeks. This month has had me working on three productions: I’m coordinating auditions and early rehearsals for the local community theater’s The Great American Trailer Park Musical; I’m stage managing my school’s entry into the state one-act play festival, and I just wrapped up the tech week and performances for this year’s Cabaret, the choir showcase at my school. Needless to say, I feel as if I’ve seen enough cue sheets and rehearsal schedules to last me a lifetime, but it helps that I’m having a blast while doing so :) Cabaret marks the beginning of the end for us seniors involved in the drama department, and I know graduation and my last musical and “Tony Night” will be here before I know it. For any other high school seniors, is your year flying by as quickly as mine?

[3] In other theatrical news, my mom, sister, and I were lucky enough to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time when it stopped in Providence on its national tour, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Tony winner of Best Play in 2015, the production tells the story of fifteen-year old Christopher as the he unravels the mystery of the relationship between his mother and father. The actors were all stellar, as was the intricate choreography, but the stage manager in me was most impressed with the projections, used to give a sense of time and place {you can a glimpse in the photo above}. After seeing the company bring the story to life on stage, I’m anxious to read the book that shares its title, as I’ve heard nothing but good things. Have you read and/or seen The Curious Incident at all?

[4] Have you heard of the CW gem, iZombie? I myself had not until my sister introduced it to me on Netflix, and I only regret not watching it sooner! As someone who shamelessly devours mystery novels and who will gladly watch any and all detective shows, the program – which premiered in early 2015 and which was inspired by Rob Thomas’ comic of the same name – is right up my alley, following a doctor-turned-zombie whose abilities become an asset to the local police department. With actress Rose McIver as the main character Liv Moore, the cast seems to have a tight bond, both on and off the screen; the story, meanwhile, is the perfect blend of humor, horror, and suspense, garnering a number of fans, myself now included. Already eight episodes in, I have my fingers crossed that my sister and I can bring ourselves up to speed before the third season starts in April.

[5] Finally, if you’re searching for some new songs to jazz up your playlist, look no further than the soundtrack for Dear Evan Hansen, one of the most recent musicals to open on Broadway. With lyrics and music from the songwriting team Pasek and Paul {they’re the duo behind Dogfight, another favorite of mine}, the show explores the role of social media and the definition of an “outsider” as the title character forges a friendship after the death of a classmate. All fourteen tracks are worth a listen, in thanks to incredible voices of Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, and the rest of the company, but I particularly enjoy “Waving Through a Window” and “Requiem.” What music have you been listening to lately?

And with that, I wish you a lovely Sunday!
xo, B