39: Sounds of Broadwaycon

I had a great time at Broadwaycon. You’ll have to wait for my official photos in a future post (whenever Broadwaycon gets them out, but here are some good ones:

I met Telly Leung again and Nicholas Barasch for the first time. I would like to have each of them on the podcast someday.

I found some Elsie alums too:

Here I am with Julie James (2016), Ari’el Stachel (2017) and Laura Osnes (2015)

And now here’s the podcast episode for your listening pleasure: https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-zydd6-882592

Thanks to my guests (from top left, clockwise) Tim Dolan, Mardie Baldo + Glinda, Abbie, Samantha, Alexis & Sarah. (Not pictured, but also appreciated: Ethan, Lyra, and Gigi)

I wore three Elsietastic shirts to Broadwaycon. You can get them here:

More items are available in my shop.

Coming up on the podcast:

February 26: TDF’s Social Media star Patrick

March: Ann Arbor Tees on providing merch for Elsie Fest

Later this year: Elsie alum Liz Callaway


It’s the most wonderful time of the year


Elsie Fest weekend.

Kristine showed up late on Friday. She brought take-out from Panera, so we sat at the dining room table while she ate and we went over our plans. It’s the first time Kristine stayed at my house and we didn’t get to watch an episode of Glee together, but there was too much to do.

Saturday morning we traveled into NYC to meet up with a bunch of Twitter friends for a Broadway Up Close tour. Kristine and I had both completed the Act I and Act III tours IMG_0002previously, so we did Act II and finally got to sign the Gypsy Shirt and become members of the BUC Gypsy Club. On the way to the tour, we stopped at Theater Circle and picked up some Lights of Broadway cards. I got some good ones for trading. Kristine is my lucky charm with LOB cards. Last time, I got TWO super-rares!

After the tour, we went out for a casual lunch and then walked to the New York Public Library, where some folks went on a tour, but Kristine and I wandered up to the reading room to see where all the movies get made, then sat on a bench to enjoy the air conditioning and free wifi, she on her phone madly updating @DarrenArmy, me on mine updating @Elsiepod. It’s good when we do it together because we can compare notes and make sure neither of us missed anything important. We also like to debate the ethics of re-posting certain things, and which posts fall under her mandate or mine. (Though around Elsie time, our agendas are pretty well aligned.)IMG_0008

Then I was fortunate that Kristine had a hotel room and said I could come relax for the afternoon. According to my Fitbit, we walked over 20k steps on Saturday. If I hadn’t had that hour or two of quiet to sit and relax, I don’t know how I would have made it through the weekend. I met her roommate Kerin, who is pretty awesome, and we got to know each other while Kristine kept up with @DarrenArmy.

I would be remiss to not tell you that all this leisure time during the busiest Twitter weekend of my year was enabled by JoAnna, who did an awesome job of keeping up my Twitter all weekend so that I could enjoy all these fun events, especially Elsie Fest itself. After talking to JoAnna about how much it means to folks who can’t come to NY to have all the links available, I couldn’t in good conscience leave my Twitter unattended while I was at Elsie Fest, but I had so many things to do I couldn’t handle it all myself. Thanks millions, JoAnna!!!

After a long walk across town, we had dinner at Five Napkin Burger (their tuna burger is one of those meals I can’t stop thinking about.) And then we went to see Prince of Broadway, which is so much fun, you shouldn’t miss it if you love musicals. Just hit after hit, and of course you have the constant experience of saying to yourself, “He produced this, too?!” The cast is incredible.

My Sunday is pretty well described on this week’s podcast episode. Check it out for stories, interviews, and music from Elsie Fest 2017! https://elsiecast.podbean.com/e/29-sounds-of-elsie-fest-2017/

And here’s a gallery of some of my interviewees at their meet and greets:


Doreen with Jeremy


Isn’t Ena the cutest?!


Diane from Northern Ireland


Marcia and Darren remembering Marsha of the Darren Criss Army, who designed Marcia’s shirt

Coming up on the podcast:

October 23: All Things Broadway

November 6: Jeremyjordan.com

November 20: Jenna Ushkowitz


On Bandstand and white men

One of the first things that happened after the Tony nominations were announced this morning was that I received sympathy on the oversight of Bandstand by the nominating committee. I’m disappointed, it’s true, (Bandstand is one of my favorite shows of the season) but I’m not surprised.

I’ve been thinking about this since the New York Times review came out last week. That review, by Alexis Soloski, is mixed. Soloski loved Corey Cott and Laura Osnes, but disliked the production as a whole, finding its mix of joy and trauma unsatisfying. She also mentions the fact that the cast is mostly white men. And here, I think, is the crux of the problem.

I, too, was put off for a moment by this fact. In a post-Hamilton, post-Bechdel Test world, it is off-putting to watch a story that is mostly about white men. (Though I should be clear that the beautiful scenes between Laura Osnes and Beth Leavel do pass the Bechdel Test, even if they talk about men quite a bit.) I am no longer used to seeing that many white people on a Broadway stage, and I was frankly a bit put out by the male dominance in the show.

But then I thought about it. Bandstand is directed by Andy Blankenbuehler, who didn’t spend years working on In the Heights and Hamilton because he thinks women and people of color are irrelevant to the American experience. So why? Why does Blankenbuehler, who already has Cats up this season and who could work for the rest of his life choreographing just for Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tommy Kail if he wanted, choose for his directorial debut to only cast white guys?

The fact that African Americans served in the war and then came back to unequal treatment, segregation, and the KKK is a scar on our history. That women rallied to fill in the factories while the men were away and then were asked to give up their independence when the war was over is a rallying cry for the Feminist movement and we should not forget that it happened, and that its legacy reverberates through history every time we debate giving Teachers, Social Workers, and Nurses the salaries they deserve. And the treatment of the Japanese during World War II deserves its own musical.

We know these things. They have been dramatized before and deserve to be dramatized again. And those who scream “Make America great again” discount those experiences when they suggest that America was great when more than half of the population was being oppressed.

What we don’t know, or have forgotten, is that back when America was “great,” there were men suffering. White men who served in World War II were told then, and have been told since, that everything was fine when they got back. They got their college educations and their VA health care and just picked up life where they left off.

Only we have never accounted as a society for what they went through in that war. We never helped them pick up the pieces from surviving D-day or what it feels like to shoot someone at point-blank range or what they saw–with absolutely no warning or preparation–when they liberated the concentration camps. We sent young men to face the absolute worst humanity has ever perpetrated and expected them to survive it with their psyches intact.

And now, finally, Bandstand is showing us what that was like for them. America was not “great” for the traumatized men who were told they were heroes but couldn’t find work to support themselves. America was not “great” for men who drank to forget. America was not “great” for men who suffered invisible brain trauma that stopped them from remembering what they had for breakfast, or men who became addicted to pills. And Laura Osnes is there to remind us that America also was not “great” for the men who never made it back.

Yes, this show is about white men. But right now, today, we are still sending young people–men and women who are now overwhelmingly poor and people of color–into the same trauma. And even the ones who look fine on the outside might not be fine on the inside. As a society, we owe it to them to help them set up lives when they get back, with jobs and health care and mental health care, too, because it isn’t an easy thing to pick up life again after being in a war zone. So maybe we need a little reminder of what happened to the white men after World War II so that we can apply those lessons to the veterans of today.

So I think that maybe Tony voters, faced with a stage full of white, male faces and a slate of new musicals the like of which has not been seen in my lifetime maybe didn’t give Bandstand the attention it deserves. Because they didn’t want to be “Tonys so white,” (though as usual, Broadway is pretty freakin’ white), because it didn’t feel universal enough, because Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography is so completely awe-inspiring that you forget he directed the whole damn thing, too, because honestly, who would you take out of the Best Actor and Best Actress categories to put Corey Cott and Laura Osnes in? I don’t know what they were thinking. But overall, I’m not surprised.

I am *thrilled* that Falsettos got so many nominations though. And I’m excited that I get to see Dear Evan Hansen, Groundhog Day, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory before the Tony Awards. I’ll review them over the next few podcast episodes.

Don’t forget that I have two active giveaways right now. Find my tweet and re-tweet it to win a Playbill from The Lightning Thief, Bandstand, or Dear Evan Hansen (your choice). I’ll keep giving away a Playbill for every 10 new followers I get until that gets boring or I run out of Playbills. I’ll pick winners on Thursday after I see Dear Evan Hansen and pick up a Playbill. (So far, I’ll be picking two winners Thursday. Care to make it 3?)

And tweet @Elsiepod using the hashtag #ElsieTour to win two tickets to a public Hamiltour from Broadway Up Close Walking Tours. You can use the tickets any time in the next year! Listen to Episode 15 of the podcast for more info about the tour.

Next week on the podcast: Curt Mega of Glee and Story Matters Podcast, and a special Warbler surprise giveaway from me to you.



Episode 15: Hamiltour

Last week, the Kid and I toured Hamilton sites in the New York City area. Hear all about it, including an interview with Tim Dolan, owner of Broadway Up Close Walking Tours, and a bonus interview with Bryan Barreras, author of Where Was the Room Where It Happened: The Unofficial Hamilton — An American Musical Location Guide.

Listen to the episode here.

Giveaway details:

Broadway Up Close is giving away two tickets on a public Hamiltour. The winner will receive a voucher for two tickets (value $70) on a public Hamilton Tour with Broadway Up Close. The voucher is good for one year.

To enter, tweet @elsiepod using the hashtag #elsietour any time between April 24, 2017 and May 5, 2017 at noon, EDT. A winner will be selected at random from all entries and will be announced on Twitter.

If the winner does not reply to Elsie Cast (via twitter or email) in a reasonable amount of time, as determined by me, a warning will be given, and then an alternate winner will be selected and announced on Twitter.

Immediate relatives of Rachel Ferat or Tim Dolan are not eligible to win. Tom Grace is not eligible to win because he won the last prize and I like to spread them around a bit. Everyone else is eligible to enter including past winners of Elsie Cast prizes.