One role to rule them all. by Alex Syiek (musical theatre writer/performer)
So as we all have heard, Hamilton is sorta successful. And even with all of the controversy regarding casting notices and the like, there's at least one role that early-middle-age white males can still vie for. KING GEORGE. And my God, has his song become the most popular thing since sliced bread. Sliced white bread.
We have high school math teachers yearning to play this historical icon:
I wish my high school teachers were this on top of pop culture.
We have the next Gene Kelly tapping his way to the throne:
My favorite part of this is the "squire" of sorts. Such stoic choices.
And we even have recent graduates of my University, Baldwin Wallace, strutting their stuff in their Senior Recital:
Small woman's pink sleeping gown. Perfect.
There's still a small sliver of hope to be in this smash hit musical phenomenon. fellow Caucasians. Follow that royal dream!
It's not who you think...or maybe it is. By Jennifer Anderson (Actor/Singer/TV addict)
Crazytown, there’s a lot going on in the world today ("No shit, Jen.") There are a lot of people on a lot of different platforms shouting a lot of different opinions on how the world should be run. Some of those opinions make sense to us. Some of them drive us crazy. Some of them make us want to cry. Some of them make us want to take action, and make the world we live in a better place.
It’s no secret that I think Amy Schumer is one of the most badass ladies in entertainment right now. She never ceases to make me cackle every Wednesday night. But it is with these last two episodes that I realized just how important she truly is. Not since Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert have we had a voice that can so brilliantly and hilariously address major issues in this country. Whether or not you agree with her stance, you cannot deny that she uses her status, talent, and humor to create real conversations about some very serious subject matter. She makes me want to take action, and make the world we live in a better place.
Batman, Feminism, Italians, and the Electric Guitar! Who could ask for more? By Tom Rizzuto
As a teacher of all things guitar, I consider it my responsibility to expose my students and the people I love (people like you, America) to the best guitar players the music industry has to offer.
Unfortunately, the music industry has a tendency to keep its very best guitarists hidden away, languishing in obscurity or at the very least, lucrative but underappreciated session work.
So today, I’m doing a public service. Sure, Hendrix, Clapton, and Van Halen are undeniable, but at some point you have to diversify. Maybe even take a look into the world of…dare I even say it…jazz?!?!
Cooler than the other side of the pillow.
I’m going easy on you with this one, because even though you might not know the name, if you’ve ever seen a TV show from the 1960s, odds are you know his work. In fact, according to this recent documentary, Roberts is probably the “most heard” guitarist in the entire world.
As awesome as Robert’s work on the Batman theme is (he was known to eat lunch in the Batmobile between recording sessions) it’s his work as an accomplished jazzman and educator that Roberts really should be remembered for. Check out this rare video of him performing live:
Big hair...Big Talent.
You have to give it up for the ladies whenever you can, especially when you’re talking about guitar players. For some reason, a shocking number of my female students feel as though they have no one to look up to. This leads them to say and believe ridiculous things like, “Barre chords are for boys.”
Mary Osborne not only held her own with the best of them in the early days of jazz guitar, but had a pretty successful recording career, as well:
How did I get so good at guitar? Don't worry about it.
I know what you’re thinking. “Ok, Rizzuto. We get it. Every time and Italian guy does anything, every pisan in America’s gotta make sure everybody knows about it.”
Well, that’s absolutely true. However, it doesn’t take away from the incredible talent of this Italian guitar-tapping pioneer. Though his career never took off in the United States, Eddie Van Halen has nothing on this guy. If you don't speak Italian, skip to about 1:09 to hear the music:
Wait but do they? Let's take a closer look. By Joanna Syiek (Director/Producer/Blogger)
When this year's Tony nominations hit, a flurry of follow-up articles began being mass shared with headlines such as "Tony Awards Could Rebuke #OscarsSoWhite With Historic Wins" and "#TonysSoNotWhite: The Tonys Are Clearly Better at Diversity Than the Oscars." But if we look behind the hashtag trying-to-go-viralness of it all, is it actually the truth? Has the Tonys committee done any better?
Looking closer, we see that over time, the Tony nominees are made up of 95.3% of white artists, whereas the number jumps up just a bit more than 1% to 96.4% for all Oscar nominees [Source: Forbes]. And while these figures are over time, and the minority numbers have been rising in recent years, it seems we are still not at a place where we should be patting ourselves on the back.
Even Miranda weighed in saying that:
“It’s been an extraordinary year for diversity on Broadway. But that being said, it’s all an accident of timing. Last year’s Tonys were just as white as this year’s Oscars are. It’s three theater owners and 40-something theaters and that’s all a combination of luck and what’s ready and what’s in the pipeline. So don’t pat yourselves on the backs too hard, Broadway. It’s all about what comes in a given year...” (Source: Here & Now)
So here's hoping that this wave of awesome nominees isn't just an anomaly, and that going forward, Broadway really can claim to recognize the most diverse set of artists.
A Mother's Day Special. By Alisha Giampola (Writer/Performer)
I was listening to 99% Invisible the other day (which, if you're into podcasts and have somehow missed it, uh, get on that), and it was an episode called Unseen City; all about the nature we frequently overlook in our increasingly urban landscapes. It's a great episode, and I recommend it, but I'm mentioning it because part of the episode got me thinking. Roman Mars and the author he is interviewing are discussing how, surprisingly, many plants and weeds in our everyday lives are edible and sometimes it's nice to be reminded that our food comes from the earth and not a store. I know this was meant to be a lovely sentiment, something to shake a realization from my modern psyche: of course! food from the earth! not a box! how silly! But as I pondered this thought, I realized that someone very close to me had always given me the gift of knowing where food comes from, and just how delicious something picked from a tree hanging over the sidewalk can be. My mom.
Swinging with mom, circa 1988.
When I was very small, we would take walks in the woods by my house. Mom knew what blackberry bushes looked like, and she taught me to find the ripe ones and eat them, warm and unwashed and out of our hands. In Florida, where I grew up, loquat trees inhabit many a front yard, and the heavy yellow fruits would hang tantalizingly within arms reach- or sometimes you'd have to climb the first rung of a fence, or walk through some bushes...either way, my mom or the squirrels were going to get it, and Lita Giampola is a lot smarter than a squirrel. I remember being vaguely scandalized by my mother's brazen and fearless thievery. My mom is a quiet person, much more so than me, and uses this to her advantage. As a kid, I would be deeply engrossed on our walks with telling mom the entire plot, in exhaustive detail, of the Boxcar Children mystery I had just read, and wouldn't even notice until she handed me a loquat, or a tangerine, or a raspberry, that she'd even paused to pick it. We would smell something good, and mom would say: "These leaves look like mint," a moment later we were nibbling on the small green leaves we'd just walked by.
But for the time being, I'll just keep listening to his music on repeat. By Jennifer Lin (Music Director)
I find it kind of strange that jazz singer/songwriter/pop-coverer extraordinaire Jamie Cullum isn't a more well-known artist in the US. Despite massive success in Asia and Europe (he's from the UK), his only two blips across American pop culture consciousness were when he co-wrote the title song for Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino (2008) and whenhe covered Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music" (with a cool music video that includes a grand piano exploding in slow-mo) in 2009.
Cullum's ongoing project is something he calls "The Song Society", where he and a couple of bandmates get together for an hour, choose a song to learn (usually a current pop hit), and cover it in their own style. They record live and leave any mistakes they make in the final product. His latest cover is Mike Posner's "I Took a Pill in Ibiza", but my favorite that he's done so far is his version of Justin Bieber's "What Do You Mean," where he recorded himself singing and playing the piano 5 different ways. It's pretty freaking great, and also a fantastic lesson in how to use the piano beyond its traditional means.
JENNIFER LINhas very emotional connections to inanimate objects and is obsessed with polka dots. She works in and around Los Angeles as a music director/teacher, which means she drives way too much, drinks a lot of tea, and is constantly eating. EMAIL HER | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | OTHER POSTS BY THIS AUTHOR
As this year's Tony nominees are announced, can we declare this is one of the strongest Broadway seasons for musicals in history? By Owen Panettieri (playwright, lyricist)
The Tony nominations are announced today. Congrats to all the nominees! Regardless of who is up for the awards, it's clear that there are many, many worthy artists working on Broadway this season who won't make the cut. That's a shame. I saw all 11 new musicals this season, and 4 of the 5 revivals (sorry I missed you, Dames at Sea!) and I can honestly say this has been one of the richest and most diverse seasons Broadway that audiences have ever experienced. Even if you removed Hamilton from the equation, there would be a bunch of shows that would be strong contenders for the top prize at the Tonys. There is really so much out there right now that's worth seeing and it's all different types of music and different stories with diverse casts and creative teams. There's something for everybody this year! Whatever you're looking for, we've got it this season. All the bases are covered. Let me break it down for you.
THE JUGGERNAUT - HAMILTON
The Tonys Website Says: From the creative team behind In the Heights comes a new musical about Alexander Hamilton, the scrappy young immigrant who forever changed America.
What Owen Says: My personal/professional bias doesn't even come in to play when I say that Hamilton is a cultural phenomenon. It's in a field all its own. It has already racked up a million awards including the Grammy and the Pulitzer. It also has a phenomenal companion book that's #1 on the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller's List. It's just everywhere. And if you can actually get in to see the show? It lives up to the hype. Keep trying that Ham4Ham lotto, friends!
THE ORIGINAL REVIVAL - SHUFFLE ALONG, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
The Tonys Website Says: In May 1921, the new musical Shuffle Along became the unlikeliest of hits, significantly altering the face of the Broadway musical as well as that of New York City. Because of Shuffle Along, Uptown and Downtown met and became one.
What Owen Says: It's not a revival, despite what some producers would hope you and the Tony nomination committee would believe. What it is, is pretty exhilarating, when the dancing kicks into gear. A phenomenal cast and exceptional choreography really lift this one to great heights. Audra is going tappa tappa tappa, y'all. You are really planning to stay away from that?