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,


Musical Moodboards / Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

Hi all!Musical MoodboardsHow is your August coming along? Is anyone back in school yet? I have classmates and friends already gearing up to leave, which I suppose makes the point known: college is right around the corner! Though the warm weather and activities are still in full swing, my mind is thinking ahead, especially as I make plans for “goodbye parties” with my close friends and learn the names of my dorm neighbors.

I, admittedly, am not quite ready to move in myself: I still have to ponder over fall course selections (the Brown class catalogue is bursting with options, all of which look exciting) and plan Ciao Bella for the autumn months (I’m wrestling with managing blogging with my extracurricular interests and the relevance of blogging given the current news cycle). Before I look too far in the future, however, I wanted to reflect on a few recent summer adventures, one of which was a trip into New York City. Our trip was short – only a day long – but my mom, sister, and I tried to pack in as much of the city as possible: we peeked into the Cooper Hewitt; sampled ice cream from Ample Hills; and, naturally, say a show! I haven’t shared a Musical Moodboard in ages, but Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 quickly proved worthy of its own post. I had a blast putting together images to reflect this production, but if you want to see another musical, do browse the archives HERE :)

Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812Sources: Landscape Painting / Natasha and Pierre Illustration / Prologue Lyrics source unknown / Tolstoy Portrait / Bunker Photograph / War and Peace Illustration / {FYI: I tried my best to provide you with the most accurate and updated sources, but please let me know of any problems or mistakes!}

Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 has been several years in the making: it was first developed at the theatre Ars Nova in 2012, transferred to the American Repertory Theater in 2015, and finally, made its way to the Broadway stage this past November. The date of its closing was announced earlier in the week – and the factors that led to this decision have been well spread throughout the theatre community – but instead of dwelling on the negative in light of the news, I’ve chosen to focus on the accomplishments of such an unusual show: throughout its run, its creators, cast, and crew have championed diversity; the stunning technical aspects all celebrate a unique approach to musical theatre; and the score deftly takes a stab at one of great literature’s central works, War and Peace.

Its originality in mind, I wanted to piece together a moodboard that honored the aspects of the show that make it so special, among them the incredible vocal talents of its 30+ person cast and the immersive experience provided by both the set and the ensemble. The energy-packed opening number is alluded to with a line from the song; the painting-lined walls of the auditorium are captured with a snow-covered Russian landscape; and even the lobby, said to resemble an abandoned bunker, gets a nod. I also included two illustrations: one colorful and modern, the other more traditional and somber, to reflect how easily the musical can weave between the two moods. Finally, one can’t mention Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 without Leo Tolstoy, whose classic War and Peace led Dave Malloy to pen the “electropop opera” in the first place.

Let’s discuss! Have you seen or heard about The Great Comet before? If you have, how do you feel about its closing? Have you read (or, at least, attempted to read!) War and Peace? I’m a bit intimidated!

Have a lovely Friday!

Font Freebies / 15

Hello!Font FreebiesHappy Wednesday, friends, and perhaps, more importantly, happy August! How are things? This summer is zipping right along, but I can’t complain: I’ve had my college countdown running for weeks, and my excitement grows with each day! Nevertheless, I still have a few weeks before I move in and attend orientation, so I’m using the next month to round out my dorm purchases, read a few books, and spend time with my close friends before they too begin classes.

With college on my mind, I was filling out my new planner for the academic year when I realized: it’s been several months since I last shared a Font Freebies post! It’s a shame I haven’t posted one sooner, for my font collection has only grown since the winter. For new readers to Ciao Bella, Font Freebies is a feature in which I round up some of my favorite free typefaces to download, as I know I’m not the only one who is a sucker for good type. Whether it’s the playful handwritten design of Peony or the bouncy look of KG She Persisted, I think you’ll find a font below that will fit your late summertime needs! Do you have any recent favorites to share?

Font Freebies 15KG She Persisted / Enie / Lehigh / Peony / MADE Waffle Slab / Nouvelle Vague

The title is in the font Run Wild.

Have the most wonderful day!