Getting the message

If you follow me on Twitter (@elsiepod) you might have noticed I’m a wee bit excited about the Bandstand cast recording, which came out today. I’ve been listening to it and I’m on my third time around.bandstand-cover-new4

Obviously, I’ve been thinking about Bandstand quite a bit lately, since my last episode was an interview with Got Your 6 about their work with Bandstand. On that episode, Matt said that music helps the vets in the play heal from the traumatic events of the war. And that’s true, but in listening, I’m hearing a more complex message than what Matt and I talked about.

Listening to “Breathe,” I realized that it’s not exactly the music that heals. It’s making music. The distinction is small, I suppose, but my emphasis is on the work of making art. Because it’s not the music, per se, that helps them heal. Lots of people do use music to heal, of course. They listen. They dance. They use it as an escape or listen to lyrics that help them unlock emotions they can’t otherwise reach. And then there’s music therapy, which is another wonderful thing.

But Bandstand is about musicians. Musicians who set a goal and work toward it. Who have to learn to work together in order to succeed. Who spend their days practicing instruments, writing songs, and improving their technique and skills.

That’s meaningful work.

Similarly, in Groundhog Day [mild spoilers in this paragraph and the next one], Phil begins to find his way out of his loop by learning to play the piano. There’s not much he can do in his ever-repeating day that will have a lasting effect. He can’t build anything (it will be gone in the morning.) He can’t work on relationships with other people (they won’t remember the next day.) He can’t leave Punxatawney, and he can’t even build his body. What he can do is change his mental capacity.

Learning to pay the piano is the first real challenge Phil sets himself, and the first meaningful work he finds. In practicing and studying piano, Phil begins to grow as a human being, and it is that growth which eventually leads to his salvation.

Meaningful work.

Making art is meaningful work. Working toward a goal, developing relationships with co-workers, creating something that wasn’t there before. These things have been shown to help with all kinds of mental illness. They also help with recovering from trauma and adjusting to a new environment.

In Bandstand, the members of the Donny Nova Band learn to focus only on their work while they’re playing. “Breathe through the instrument, breathe through the end of the phrase/ And as everyone plays, it gets easier” Donny sings. He means to live in the moment. Concentrate on the work that needs to be done. Connect with the people in the room on the level needed to do what you’re doing. Exist. Eventually, you develop new habits of living–healthier habits that involve making something good with a group of people you can rely on.

And in doing this, your brain retrains itself. It learns that you can rely on the people around you. That you’re safe. That you’ll get regular rewards from succeeding, from meeting goals, from connecting with other people in a healthy way. And you get better.

I’m not knocking therapy or discounting the importance of medication. And I definitely think we should do more for our modern war vets who need help.

However, I am noticing a message rippling through Broadway right now about the importance of making art not only to get your message out (though that’s important too) but also because art heals (Bandstand, Groundhog Day.) Art brings people together (Cats, Dear Evan Hansen.) Working to help others improves your own life (Groundhog Day, Come From Away.) Work helps you develop and preserve your identity (Waitress, Sweat, Banstand.) And anything that gets in the way of creative expression is dangerous (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1984.)

It’s a theme. I’m getting the message, Broadway. And I agree with it.

Make more art.


Coming up on the podcast:

7/3: New York Musical Festival

7/17: Mardie Baldo: Gleek Goddess

7/31: Julie James (looking good) or Dean O’Connell (he’ll be on eventually either way)

Episode 21: Got Your 6 on Bandstand’s portrayal of veterans

If you saw Bandstand‘s performance at the Tony Awards, then you know about the relationship between Got Your 6 and Bandstand.

When I read about Got Your 6 in Playbill, I wanted to know more. So I interviewed Matt Mabe, the Director of Operations at Got Your 6 about the organization, how they got

Matt at Bandstand

My guest has seen Bandstand three times! I am jealous.

involved with Bandstand, and what it’s like working on a Broadway show when you weren’t previously a Broadway fan. (He is now. Corey Cott and Laura Osnes will do that to a person.)

You can hear the interview here: https://elsiecast.podbean.com/e/21-got-your-six-on-bandstands-portrayal-of-veterans/

Donate to Band Together here: http://bandstandbroadway.com/bandtogether/


Coming up on the podcast:

July 3: New York Musical Festival

July 17: Mardie Baldo, Gleek Goddess

July 31: Julie James or Dean O’Carroll

News! Well, news-ish!

A little while ago, Ricky Rollins, one of the producers of Elsie Fest, tweeted the following:

It’s not really news, but it is confirmation that Elsie Fest is going to happen and we can expect an announcement relatively soon. So news-ish, but it’s something!

And I have to think all of our tweets and asks and hashtags brought this to his attention, so thank you for asking!

I’ll keep you posted as best I can.

Meanwhile, you can listen to the podcast here: https://elsiecast.podbean.com


Coming up on the podcast:

June 19: Got Your 6

July 3: New York Musical Festival

July 17: Mardie Baldo: Gleek Goddess

Episode 20: Tony Winning Orchestrator Larry Hochman

Imagine sitting in your tuxedo at the Tony Awards. In front of you is your friend and colleague. Across the aisle, the guy you call when you have no idea how to solve a problem at work. He always helps you out. Two rows behind you is a guy you’ve met a few times. You don’t know him well, but you like him. He’s really friendly and you’d like to get to know him better.

All four of you are nominated for the same award. Three of you are going to lose.

My guest has been in this situation six times, and something similar is going to happen to him again this coming Sunday night.

DBRTzAWWsAAgHWV

These five men are friends. Four of them are going to lose on Sunday. Larry is the one in the middle, with the blue tie. 

My guest this episode is Larry Hochman, the Orchestrator who won the Tony Award in 2011 for The Book of Mormon. He’s been nominated seven other times:

  1. 2001: A Class Act
  2. 2004: Fiddler on the Roof
  3. 2005: Spamalot
  4. 2011: The Scottsboro Boys (2 nominations in 2011)
  5. 2015: Something Rotten
  6. 2016: She Loves Me
  7. 2017: Hello Dolly!

He’s also my cousin, and he came on the podcast to explain what an Orchestrator does, how he got where he is in his career, what it’s been like working on some of the most amazing shows on Broadway, and what it’s like sitting at the Tony Awards when you’ve been nominated against your friends.

I also got him to talk about what he’s excited to see on Broadway this season (he hasn’t been able to see anything yet because he’s been busy with Hello Dolly!) And he threw in the names of two Elsie alums he’d love to hear on the show.

Also, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the naked photo Darren Criss dropped last week. Did you like it? If so, why? Did it make you uncomfortable? Why do you think Darren did it? Let me know what you think.

Listen to the episode here: https://elsiecast.podbean.com/e/20-tony-winning-orchestrator-larry-hochman/


Coming up on the podcast:

June 19: Got Your 6

July 3: New York Musical Festival

July 17: Mardie Baldo, Gleek Goddess

Blaine Theories

On this week’s episode, I launched a new podcast game called “Blaine Theories.” You may

tumblr_m2olbyjnUX1qhmf1wo1_400

What’s up with that watch?

recall that in the Pilot, I said one of the reasons I made this podcast was my desire to someday ask Darren Criss why Blaine wears his watch on his right wrist. I still want to know (does anybody know?)

But I have other questions about Blaine. Questions that are fun to talk about. So I made up this game and decided I’d play it with the next Gleek who came on the show.

The game goes like this. I have a list of multiple-choice questions about Blaine Anderson from Glee. The questions come from my head. The answers come from fan fiction. I read the question and answers, and my guest has to choose the answer she likes best, and defend her answer from canon.

The questions in this first edition of Blaine Theories were

Who is Blaine’s (secret) best friend?

  1. Sam
  2. Tina
  3. Santana
  4. Nick
  5. Wes

Where did Blaine live before he enrolled at Dalton Academy?

  1. New Jersey
  2. Westerville, OH
  3. Lima, OH
  4. Cleveland, OH

Blaine dated Karofsky because:

  1. He fell for David while he was emotionally vulnerable.
  2. Both of them love Kurt.
  3. He knew it would hurt Kurt.
  4. He really does like bears.

Tiffany and I had a great conversation, and Tiffany said she had fun. I definitely had fun. The question is, did you have fun listening? Do you want to hear more of this? Are there questions you wish I would ask*? Fan fics you think provide excellent answers I haven’t encountered before?

Let me know what you think about this feature. The next opportunity I’ll have to play (unless the guy from Got Your 6 is a secret Gleek, which would be fun) is in July when Mardie Baldo comes on. Mardie is already psyched to play.


*I don’t ask questions about sex, as those can’t be answered from canon, and I doubt I’ll ask anything that gets the fandom totally riled, like “What is Blaine’s ethnicity?” Anything else is pretty much fair game, though I reserve the right to choose or ignore questions for any reason at all.

Coming up on the podcast:

June 5: Tony Award Winning Orchestrator Larry Hochman (Hello Dolly!, She                                      Loves Me, Something Rotten, Spamalot, Book of Mormon)

June 19: Got Your 6

July 3: New York Musical Festival

Todrick Hall and Tiffany

Episode 19: Thespian Nerd

Sometimes I see someone on Twitter (or wherever) and I just think they look like fun to talk to. Tiffany was one of those people. And we had a great time talking about everything from Chris Colfer’s writing to Glee to Broadwaycon and Todrick Hall and Lena Hall and wild speculation about the next Elsie Fest.

You can listen to the episode here: https://elsiecast.podbean.com/e/19-thespian-nerd/

This is a terrible quality video, but the quote Tiffany refers to is in it. It’s from Inside the Actors Studio:

Here are the Chris Colfer links I promised:

Official site for Chris Colfer’s Land of Storieshttp://thelandofstories.com

Amazon’s list of all of Chris Colfer’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Colfer/e/B007O2PO80

Here’s the pic of Tiffany with Todrick Hall:

Todrick Hall and Tiffany

Tiffany met Todrick Hall at the stage door of Kinky Boots.

The Facebook Live where Darren mentions Elsie Fest is here: https://www.facebook.com/darrencriss/videos/10154489266594147/

The Elsie Fest comment is at about 34:53 if I’m reading the time thing correctly.

Episode 18: Broadway Babylon

I talk to the adorable William Statham about Broadway Babylon, an online group dedicated to Broadway news and discussions. Listen to the episode here.

unnamed-5

The adorable William Statham

We also discuss our mutual love of Darren Criss, Bandstand, and Dear Evan Hansen. William loves Dear Evan Hansen more than I do, but then William loves Dear Evan Hansen more than most people love breathing. Witness his shrine:

unnamed-6

William’s DEH shrine. Listen to the podcast to find out how he got the arm cast!

You can find Broadway Babylon on Facebook.

Twitter: @bwaybabylon

Instagram: @broadwaybabylon