Showing posts with label road trips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label road trips. Show all posts

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Hamilton in Los Angeles

For my third road trip this fall I left early yesterday morning to begin a ten hour drive to Los Angeles in order to see Hamilton at the Pantages Theatre last night.  My good friend Karen is a season ticket holder at the Pantages and subscribers were allowed to purchase extra tickets to Hamilton before they went on sale to the general public.  She very generously asked me if I would like a ticket and I asked her to try and get me one during my fall break (and I also gave her a price limit).  I couldn't believe it when she sent me a text telling me that she had been successful!  I was so excited to be able to see my favorite musical again (so excited that I didn't mind another ten hour drive this time to a city I hate driving in).  It was so incredibly special to be able to see the original cast on Broadway, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, but I really enjoyed what each actor in this production did to make the role his or her own.  Michael Luwoye, as Alexander Hamilton, has a beautiful voice and he sang the role in a more traditional manner rather than spitting out the lyrics, particularly in "My Shot."  His version of "It's Quiet Uptown" made me cry because he was literally sobbing through the song and when Eliza took his hand to forgive him he kissed it.  This absolutely shattered me and I heard the woman behind me sniffling after this as well.  I also really enjoyed Joshua Henry's portrayal of Aaron Burr because he infused a lot of humor into the role, especially in "The Room Where It Happened" and "The Election of 1800."  Isaah Johnson was incredibly powerful as George Washington in "Right Hand Man" but surprisingly vulnerable in "History Has Its Eyes on You" and then pretty much blew the roof off the Pantages Theatre at the end of "One Last Time."  Jordan Donica didn't strut around the stage as Thomas Jefferson like Daveed Diggs did but, instead, he struck a pose (which Hamilton imitated) during key moments and the mic drop in the first Cabinet Battle was hilarious.  Amber Iman, as Peggy Schuyler, had the funniest pout every time she sang, "...and Peggy" during "The Schuyler Sisters."  Finally, King George was played by Rory O"Malley, who I saw on Broadway, and it seemed like he had a lot more choreography in this production which made the audience laugh out loud!  My two favorite numbers were, once again, "Yorktown" and "Hurricane" because the staging is so dynamic.  I didn't think it was possible for me to love Hamilton any more than I already did but seeing it again was thrilling!  Now I can't wait to see it again in SLC in the spring!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Frozen The Musical in Denver

My friend Rachel and I decided to drive to Denver over the weekend to meet our friend Larry to see the new musical Frozen, which is having its premiere in Denver before it transfers to Broadway next spring.  I had Friday off as compensation for parent teacher conferences so we left mid-morning and got in to Denver right at rush-hour (my favorite).  We saw the matinee on Saturday afternoon, went to my very favorite place to eat in Denver in the evening, and then drove home yesterday.  It was a quick trip but it was so much fun (it was really great to meet up with Larry who is awesome) and I am so glad that we did it!
I am a big fan of the movie so I was excited to see the show and it definitely didn't disappoint!  I loved it (we all did)!  The story does not veer too far from the movie but there are a few new songs which I really loved, especially "Dangerous to Dream" and "Monster" because I think they both really help to add a deeper layer to Elsa's character.  Even though I loved the new songs, my absolute favorite moment in the show was "Let It Go" which is just spectacular.  Caissie Levy has an amazing voice and she really belted it out to the rafters of the Buell Theatre.  It gave me goosebumps!  The special effects are incredible, especially when Elsa waves her arms and ice crystals flash across the stage in perfect synchronization.  She also has a really quick costume change into a beautiful blue dress covered in sparkles (all of the costumes are wonderful, very much informed by the movie).  I also really loved the special effects after Elsa's coronation, particularly when she touches objects and they freeze.  It is mesmerizing!  As previously mentioned, Levy, as well Patti Murin who plays Anna, do a really great job with their characters and I also loved the actresses who play the young Elsa and Anna (Brooklyn Nelson and Audrey Bennett, respectively).  My other favorites were Jelani Alladin as Kristoff and Greg Hildreth as Olaf (who sounds exactly like Josh Gad).  However, I would have to say that my very favorite character in the whole show is Sven (much like in the movie), played by Andrew Pirozzi.  Sven reminded me a lot of the animals in The Lion King.  I loved everything about this show and I'm so glad that I got to be one of the first to get to see it (we are already planning to go to New York and see it on Broadway).  It was another amazing adventure (one more road trip to go this year!).

Note:  Rachel dressed up as Elsa and it was fun to watch the reactions of all the little girls around us!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

U2 in Phoenix

I was nineteen when U2 released their seminal album The Joshua Tree and to say that it affected me would be an understatement.  I had been a U2 fan already but this album rocked my world, literally and figuratively.  I was wide awake, for maybe the first time in my life, and I was deeply passionate about history, philosophy, literature, politics, and activism.  Bono was my guru and I worshiped at the altar of his poetry.  So when U2 announced a tour in commemoration of its 30th anniversary, I was really bummed when I noticed that SLC (or even Denver) was not on the schedule.  The closest city to me was Phoenix and since it is completely crazy to drive ten hours just for a concert I tried to put it out of my mind.  After all, I had seen them in concert so many other times.  I held out until mid-August and then, in a moment of madness, I bought a ticket.  You see, whenever I do crazy things like drive ten hours just to see a concert I am always so glad that I did it when it's all over.  Experiences like this become some of my best memories!  The concert was absolutely amazing!  Bono's voice is definitely not what it was but I've never really considered him to be a virtuoso.  Rather, I have always thought of him as an incredibly passionate performer and he gave an epic performance on Tuesday night!  Bono somehow has the ability to make a venue like the University of Phoenix Stadium feel intimate and that, out of a crowd of 50,000, he is singing just for you!  I love Bono.  I love him unabashedly!   The stage featured a massive panoramic video screen with an outline of a Joshua tree and a runway leading out to the floor with a smaller stage that also looked like a Joshua tree.  When the house lights dimmed, it looked like someone was walking along the runway and it turned out to be Larry Mullen, Jr. who began the instantly recognizable militaristic drumbeat of "Sunday Bloody Sunday."  The Edge and Adam Clayton soon joined him on guitar and bass and then the crowd went into a frenzy when Bono started singing.  They continued with "New Year's Day," "Bad," and "Pride (In the Name of Love)" out on the small stage.  Then the the screen turned red with the giant Joshua tree in black and I had goosebumps when I heard the opening notes of "Where the Streets Have No Name."  U2 played The Joshua Tree in its entirety track by track, in order!   The videos accompanying each song were shot by Anton Corbijn, who did all of the iconic photography for the album.  The images were dazzling.  My favorite songs were "With or Without You" because it is my favorite song on the album, "Bullet the Blue Sky" because it always gets me riled up, and "One Tree Hill" because it is rarely performed and Bono gave such an emotional performance of it (it was written for his friend Greg Carroll who died in a motorcycle accident and Bono dedicated it to him before singing it).  Honestly, it was worth the ten hour drive just to hear that song!  For the encore, the band sang "Miss Sarajevo," "Beautiful Day," "Elevation," "Vertigo," "Ultraviolet," and their new song "You're the Best Thing About Me."  They ended the evening with a mind-blowing performance of "One."  All of the lights were turned off and the audience used their phones to light up the arena.  I will never forget that!  It was a crazy thing to do but I am so very glad that I drove ten hours to see this concert!

Note:  The opening act was Beck.  I have always wanted to see him so this concert killed two birds with one stone!  He also put on an amazing show because he is just so damn cool!  My favorite songs were "Loser," "Where It's At," and "Wow."

Monday, August 7, 2017

Mt. Rushmore with Sean

Last summer Marilyn and I took Sean on a road trip to the Four Corners Monument, Grand Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park.  Apparently, summer road trips are now a tradition so we asked Sean where he wanted to go this year and he picked Mt. Rushmore.  We went last weekend and, aside from a very long drive, we had so much fun!  Sean said that the view was worth the drive!
At the entrance to the monument.
Sean in front of a sculpture of Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor who created Mt. Rushmore.
The plaza leading up to the monument.
It is quite impressive!
Sean and I walked along the Presidential Trail to get a few different perspectives of the presidents.  We ate lunch at the cafeteria and, of course, we had to get some of the famous ice cream.
As we drove away from the monument there was a turnout to get a really good view of Washington's profile.  It is pretty spectacular.
Sean posing in front of the sign in his new Mt. Rushmore hoodie!
In the late afternoon we decided to visit the Crazy Horse Monument.  So far only the head has been completed and they have started working on the horse.  It doesn't seem like much has been done when you look at what the completed monument is supposed to look like but it is quite different from what I remember seeing as a kid.  Sean really liked the Native American museum.  In the evening we went back to Mt. Rushmore for the evening patriotic program and to see the monument illuminated.  It was a great day.  Marilyn and I had so much fun with Sean and it seemed like we were laughing all of the time at everything he said.  He means so much to both of us and I am so happy that we could take him on this road trip.  He is already thinking of where he wants to go next year!

Note:  It was the beginning of the Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis so we saw lots and lots of motorcycles which was really cool.  The street in front of our hotel was lined with parked motorcycles.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Utah Shakespeare Festival 2017

On Thursday I spontaneously decided to take a road trip to Cedar City (about four hours south of SLC) to see a few Utah Shakespeare Festival productions and I had a great time!  I saw a matinee performance of Guys and Dolls, a musical I have seen countless times, and, for the most part, I really enjoyed it.  The story, which is a bit dated but a lot of fun, revolves around the romantic struggles between Nathan Detroit (Quinn Mattfeld), who runs the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York, and Miss Adelaide (Melinda Parrett), his fiancee of fourteen years, as well as Sky Masterson (Brian Vaughn), a gambler, and Sarah Brown (Alexander Zorn), a sergeant with the Save-a-Soul Mission trying to reform him.  All four of the lead actors give wonderful performances and I especially enjoyed Zorn's over-the-top antics in "Havana" and Parrett's hilarious rendition of "Adelaide's Lament." I also laughed out loud at the comedic turns by Leslie Brott as General Cartright and James Newcomb as Big Jule.  The big song and dance numbers "Luck Be a Lady," and "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" featured fantastic choreography.  My only complaint with this show was the set, which didn't seem to me to be up to Utah Shakespeare Festival standards.  The set for the Save-a-Soul Mission, specifically, was rotated multiple times so that the seemingly unfinished back faced the audience.  I don't know if this was done intentionally for artistic reasons but it looked rather shabby.  It reminded me of something you would see in an amateur production (Hunter High has better sets and they are performing Guys and Dolls in the fall).  In the evening I saw Romeo and Juliet in the wonderful Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre and I absolutely loved it!  Everyone is familiar with the story of star-crossed lovers and their feuding families but this production was very fresh.  While Shakespeare's language is retained, I felt that the actors delivered their lines with a very modern sensibility making the play more accessible to everyone, including the young people sitting near me who were enthralled.  I was particularly struck by the juxtaposition between the almost light-hearted first half with the weighty and tragic second half.  The contrast worked very well.  Shane Kenyon and Betsy Mugavaro are perfect as Romeo and Juliet with very passionate performances but, in my opinion, Jeb Burris steals the show as Mercutio.  He is incredibly appealing in his early scenes and his death scene was most affecting.  I also really enjoyed Leslie Brott's performance as the nurse, which made me laugh out loud at times and cry at others.  It is an intense production which will surprise audience members who think they know the story.  I was able to have a few of the signature tarts in between shows so my day was a success.  Go here for more information about the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Grand Teton National Park

My friend Rich teaches a class called the American West at Hunter High School.  During the summer, he takes a group of students from the class on a camping trip to Grand Teton National Park.  This year I went along as a chaperone.
I have been to Yellowstone many times but I have never camped at Grand Teton National Park and it was beautiful!
We stayed in the campsite by Coulter Bay in tents that were almost like cabins because they had reinforced walls and a roof.  They were pretty nice but it was very cold at night.  There was a wood-burning stove but we let the fire go out the first night.  I was vigilant about keeping the fire going the second night!  I was with the girls in this cabin.
On the second day we went rafting on the Snake River.  The level of the river was higher than anyone remembers it ever being and the guides were even nervous about the conditions.  They gave us a safety briefing that was comprehensive, to say the least.  After that I didn't know if I wanted to do it any more!  To be honest, I was pretty terrified.  I had gone river rafting once before on the Athabasca River in Canada but that was a bit tamer than the Snake River.  They made us wear wet suits because the water was so cold.
Here we are in our raft before we started down the river.  Notice that I am in the back in the middle.  Our guide wanted the two bravest people in the front as the lead paddlers and the most scared person in the back!  Ha ha!
Rafting the river was amazing!  We hit some really big rapids and we all got drenched but it was a thrill!  It felt like the biggest roller coaster you can imagine but it was completely out of control.  I loved it!  Our guide took this picture of us on a calm portion of the river!
On the third day we went on a hike around Jenny Lake which gave us spectacular views.
This was such a fun trip and the students were so great.  Some of my favorite moments were sitting in the bathroom charging our phones, making s'mores by the fire every night, an epic Monopoly game, and the Hootenanny in Moose.  I hope I am invited to go again next year! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Yellowstone with Sean and Tashena

Over Labor Day weekend in 2010, my family went on a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park.  It is one of my very favorite trips because I got to spend so much time with Sean and Tashena.  Marilyn and I stayed at a cabin at the KOA near the park while Kristine, Trent, and the kids had their camper at a site near us.  The kids spent a lot of time hanging out at the cabin with us and we loved it!
The weather was perfect and it was so much fun seeing all of the different geysers and pools.  We would get up really early to be out and about when the animals were most active.  Here are some of the pictures from around the park.
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