The night they invented champagne

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere!

That’s how my stomach felt last week, as I coordinated the final pieces to live out a lifelong dream – going backstage at a Broadway musical. My friend Tory, as she departed Boston for the bike paths of Bolivia, connected me with her famously awesome aunt, Tony winner Victoria Clark. I’d seen her before in Light in the Piazza and Cinderella- now, she was sharing the stage with Vanessa Hudgens in Gigi (new and improved, with slightly less creepiness than its film predecessor).

Some text messages with Vicki, a call with the company manager, and a ticket to the box office later, my sister and I were off to the theater for the Friday night show, just before this weekend’s Tony Awards.

The show itself was wonderful – we sat in row K, surrounded by other friends and family of various actors. We could see the small mics on people’s faces and had a perfect view of the beautiful stage, with its Eiffel Tower set and sweeping staircase. Victoria had as many songs as Gigi herself, and the cast worked perfectly together.  The plot was… faulty… but I have to assume it made more sense in Colette’s era than it does in 2015. And really, if props are flying across the stage on invisible wires, dancers are kicking in a chorus line, and big dance numbers end in goofy grins, I’m going to be a happy camper.

After the show, we went over to the stage door, around the crowd waiting to meet Vanessa and into the queue to enter backstage.  My name was on the list (spelled right!) and we waltzed right in… and right onto the stage itself.

Backstage at Gigi

It was everything I imagined and nothing like what I pictured.  It looked so much like the boxy, black backstage where I spent so many afternoons as a stage manager in high school. The view from the wings was just that – lights in your face, and red velvet seats staring back at you. Masking tape on shelves with props resting in their place.  But when you looked out… you were on Broadway. 

We met Vicki’s dresser, Vicky (!) who told us about the shows she’s worked on and how crazy Tony rehearsals were. Then the star herself came out and we got to chat and take a picture together.

Kat, Victoria Clark, Sally

Milling all over the stage were other actors and their loved ones. Corey Cott said hi to his friends, Vanessa Hudgens gabbed with some guests, and people posed on the steps (obviously, we had to join in).

On stage at Gigi

My friends had told me to look out for Max Clayton, a Manchester native making his Broadway debut here. I caught him in between other guests and he was so sweet, especially when he found out that we were from NH. We talked to his aunts, who were visiting, and it turns out that we know a bunch of theater people in common (small state FTW).

When we left, I tried to put on my sunglasses and sneak out the stage door where Vanessa was still signing autographs, but Kat and the security guard wouldn’t let me.  Next time…

Being on stage reminded me how similar every theater is, if it’s a place – and an idea – that you love.  And it also reminded me of the magical spark I get from theater – and why I really need to get out of the seats and back into it.

This whole experience was also a massive lesson in not giving up on your dreams.  I was 100% sure I was not going to accomplish this before I turned 30, and I’m so so so so so glad I was wrong, because it was incredible and it never would have happened if I hadn’t put in the effort.

Massive thanks to Victoria Clark for the friendly welcome backstage and to Tory for helping make this dream come true!


Music Monday: Here in Neverland

My name is Sally, and I’m addicted to musicals.

There are some that have meant a lot to my life – like Grease, which brought me some of the best people in my life when we did it in high school, or the Sound of Music, which Grandma Sugarplum and I would sing together.

But I can only think of three performances where the show itself – the sheer musical content and drama – kicked me in the gut so hard that I watched with my hand over my mouth, willing time to slow down so I could stay in the moment forever.

The first: A Chorus Line – I felt like had just broken my ankle and lost my life’s dream.
The second: Wicked – in the front row in London, watching Idina Menzel – sorry, Adele Dazeem – take to the skies.
The third: Finding Neverland – here in Boston, with Jeremy Jordan killing it in the lead role. Be still, my heart. But seriously, I was never a fan of the movie but thought the show sounded fun and it blew me away, to the extent that I bought tickets for my family to see it first thing the next morning.

(Later, when I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London, I held it against this example of unexpected, amazing childhood fun and it came up sorely lacking.)

Don’t take it from me – go see Matthew Morrison take back this role on Broadway, and Laura Michelle Kelly continue her reign of glory as the leading lady. I know I’m going to see it again!

(Ok, the fourth was Spring Awakening – and the fifth was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat – and the sixth was Les Mis – and the seventh…)

Mic: check!

I’ve never been shy about taking the stage. I remember being in third grade and singing the solo in the Hanukkah song in an elementary school holiday concert.  As I got older, I sang with choirs, played my clarinet in band, even tooled around on a bass guitar in jazz band.  I had a few lines as a lovely lady in Les Mis and was a Bali Ha’i dancer in South Pacific.  But since I didn’t take up acoustic guitar until after I’d graduated from college, I never had a chance to play in public – until this weekend.

I headed back to my hometown in NH for the weekend to play at the local (read: only) coffeeshop’s open mic night. The shop itself is related to my theatrical past – it’s housed in the old train station, which was actually the hardware store when I was growing up. Katie and I used to go there about twice a week (or day) to buy paint for flats and signs and furniture. In the audience were old friends, my middle school shop teacher, the town librarians, etc. So much hometown love.


And SO MUCH FUN.  I played two songs – cut out the middle one because the program was running a little long.  First my dad and I sang “Jolene” by Dolly Parton – I was inspired by a first date I went on a few weeks ago where I heard a woman kill it. Thanks for taking me to that bar, Ryan! And then I sang and played “You and I” by Lady Gaga alone – an anthem to my “cool New Hampshire guy.”


After all that time of planning, and all that hype, it was so much easier than I expected.  And so much more exhilarating. I added this to my five year plan because it seemed like something good to try “before I got too old” but actually, it struck a serious chord (teehee) in my heart. I think I’m going to have to look at going bigger… maybe even seeing if there are any bands that need guitarists…?

Lesson learned: always push yourself and try new things – it might not only make you tick, but also inspire some further desire!

So much love to my mom and sis for cheering me on, bro-in-law Wes for also playing for the first time, cousin Sophie and uncle Andy for rocking it, dad for always playing by my side, and Ashley, Zak, and Rachael for coming to cheer me on.

Now, onward to the rest of the fun adventures on my list, and all those I haven’t even thought to write down!


Music Monday: The Fade Away

As I’ve gotten back into the world of online dating, I’ve had my share of awkward online interactions.  (No, if chat is turned off, I probably don’t want to chat, especially if we’re a 30% match.  And yes, I know I have a nice smile, I had braces twice and still wear my retainer diligently – but did you see that I also have an entire profile!?!  Also… hi.  Just hi.  Apparently that’s a thing now, along with profiles composed 100% of selfies.  C’mon Boston – you can do better!)

But nothing is more awkward than that moment where it’s just not quite clicking after a date or two – not so many that it’s worth a phone call or a drink to say goodbye, but just enough that you feel obligated to come up with excuses to not see someone again.

My work friends and wise sister recently convinced me to stop taking this wimpy option and actually tell someone that I wasn’t feeling a spark instead of fading away, and it was TOUGH.  Finding the words, and actually sending them, made me feel like a giant jerk.  But it also closed a door that I didn’t need to keep open (kind of like Tabless Thursday!).

In honor of the wimp’s way out, I bring you this gem that my mom made me watch this weekend as part of Garfunkel and Oates’s new tv show.  It’s perfect.  And I DO want to see it again.

Your guide to a fun Boston summer

It’s summer in the city – long nights, short dresses, sweet cocktails, and a million reasons to throw caution to the wind and stay out for one more song, one more drink, one last train.

This winter was brutal. Many of us felt like our urban abodes were suddenly stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no chance for socializing or adventure.  Now, my friends and I are more determined than ever to live it up this summer – both to reward ourselves for surviving the cold, and to stock up on warm memories for the inevitable cold ahead (as George R.R. Martin won’t let us forget, winter is always coming.)

Here’s my starter guide to having a stupendous Boston summer – where to go and what to do to ensure that you’re making the most of these next glorious weeks.  I’ll add more items as I hear of them!

Summer Fun 2014


  • Free films and music at the Boston Harbor Hotel: BHH has an amazing summer series of music and movies that can be enjoyed for free.  Get there early to get a seat at their restaurant, and take in some tunes while watching the sunset over the harbor.
  • Concert series at Post Office Square: Check out free tunes at Post Office Square, a mini oasis in the city.
  • Shakespeare on the Common: Get cultured on the Common with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and their performance of Twelfth Night.  You can catch my friends and me there on August 5!
  • Free nights at the ICATap into your artsy side with free nights at the ICA – perfect for dates of the romantic or BFF variety!
  • Free Friday Flicks at the Hatch Shell: pack a picnic (or buy one at nearby Whole Foods) and take in a film along with thousands of other Bostonians at the Hatch Shell, right next to the Charles River.


  • Free exercise classes at Post Office Square: Before work, during lunch, after a long day – take a break and work out with one of the free classes in Post Office Square.  I went to their boot camp all last summer and it was incredible – great community and quality classes for free!
  • Get a Sweetgreen passport: check it out to find free exercise classes and events near you.
  • Join the November Project: Check out this fun group and attend one of their high-energy outdoor workouts – rain, shine, show – they never stop!
  • Swim in the sunset at the Rooftop Pool: the Rooftop Pool (RTP) at the Colonnade Hotel lets you swim for free in the evenings – or just dangle your legs in and enjoy a mojito, your call.
  • Run on the Freedom Trail: Sometimes you think you know your neighborhood, but there’s more history than you can imagine, right beneath your feet.  Join a Freedom Trail Run and get an insider’s view of Boston’s rich past, while picking up your heart rate in the process.


  • Explore the Boston Harbor Islands: from forts to fries to glittery beaches of sea glass, the harbor islands are the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday.  I recommend going out to George’s Island and then stopping at Spectacle on the way back.
  • Cool off at the Boston Public Library: In addition to hosting every book in the world (true story, I checked), the BPL also has a beautiful courtyard, a cafe, and a great array of exhibits and events, not to mention some pretty strong air conditioning.
  • Ride the Swan Boats: Head over while it’s still under $3 and take a ride on Boston iconic swan boats (dare I call them the proto-duck tour?).  The ride is short but sweet, and it will make you appreciate the many flowers in bloom and wildlife in the Public Garden.
  • Seek out the best ice cream in town: It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it – search out some of the best flavors in Boston ice cream, from Toscanini’s in Central Square to Christina’s in Inman to JP Licks… everywhere.  With options like rose, burnt caramel, and coffee oreo to choose from, this challenge has no losers.
  • Enjoy the student-free city: take in the areas that are painful during the school year (Harvard Square, anyone? The entire Green Line?) and enjoy owning a small slice of our city by yourself, rather than always sharing it with a mob.

What else are you loving about Boston this summer?  Post in the comments below!  And have fun out there!

ETA: two new additions!

Free Fridays at a bunch of museums around the state, including some that are really expensive otherwise (I’m looking at you, Gardner Museum)

SOWA Sundays – awesome vintage and craft market in the South End, with food trucks galore and tons of delicious things and great gifts to leave your wallet utterly empty.

Music Monday: A Misérable Passover

As usual, the Maccabeats have come out with a catchy video to kick off the Jewish holidays.  This time, it’s less about creative new lyrics and instead focused on the crafty repurposing of the Les Misérables songs to tell the story of Passover (with some mighty fine singing in the process, though I would have liked to see them hit those high notes…).

Check it out below – and check out my matzo brei recipe if you’re looking for a way to spice up your unleavened bread.