31 August, 2016

I've Been: August 2016

- Writing writing writing...

- Basking in short hair!

- Taking great joy in doing even the littlest of tasks with excellence

- Learning to totally rock Self Care:
  • Allowing people to help and love me
  • Sleeping (like an Olympic Sleep Gold medalist)
  • Introvert-ing (like a pro)
  • Journaling constantly
  • Enjoying Paleo delights (like my homemade Paleo granola whuuuut)
  • Detoxifying my home (welcome Himalayan salt lamps! 

- Still meeeeeelting in the NYC summer heat.

- More health rumbling. Oof.

- Having a blast singing "Oh My Mysterious Lady" with Tony Sheldon for the Transport Group's Peter Pan in Concert

- ...and connecting with some incredible friends

- The camaraderie of the dressing room, combined with the feeling of true belonging after all these years was very powerful. And true. It is possible to be true to yourself in this business and in this world. The Transport Group often reminds me of that.

- Returning to London. Again. Ah beloved home away from home.

- Witnessing my oldest and best friend, Tony-nominee Michael Arden get married.
  • Reading Sonnet 116
  • Dancing the night away
  • The entire "congregation of heathens" wearing matching onesies
  • ...and singing along with Darren Criss (as he plays 90s songs on guitar... in the forrest... everyone singing along...in the onesies...)
  • Doing magical spells in the forest
  • Reuniting with my oldest friends on earth
  • Engaging in not one but three costume changes
  • Alexandras take EUROPE!
  • Seeing glorious Bath 
  • ...with old and new friends
- Deep talks with new friends in foreign cities. The kind you can only have whilst traveling. 

- International Alexandra Sister trip!

- Seeing my lady-pals in Showboat at the New London! I wept!

- ...then grabbing a proper catch-up and feast after the show.

- Writing lots and lots of postcards! It is so wonderful (and easy!) to send simple missives of love and thoughtfulness via good ol' snail mail.

The leading ladies of Showboat


- Going out with the cast of Harry Potter after the show. Fabulous and bizarre. Making some new pals! Reuniting with old ones! (Ah the theatre! The great democratizer of the arts!)

- Being met and flooded with the WEDDING PARTY!! And making a NIGHT of it. (A hostess said in total earnestness "Are you with the group of 'kind of famous' Americans...?" I was. And we were clearly on #BRAND).

My Anatevka Family forever
- Re-connecting with my original Anatevka family for the entire Sunday of August 21st. My heart filled with the kind of comfort and happiness you feel in the presence of family. Next year in the Holy Land...

- Trekking through the grounds of Alexandra Palace after lunch with Bev and Tomm and feeling more at peace than I have all year. True  friends are healing.

- Being bold and reaping the emotional and energetic rewards. Fortune favors the brave.

- Seeing my dearest Pineapple and friend Michael Bernardi fulfill his destiny as Tevye on The Broadway stage (not to mention actually SEE my own show!!)

- Weekending in Bucks County with my friend and Julliard voice teacher and dear friend Doc White.

- Planning for the future

- More reading!

- Falling in love with Tzeitel all over again...

Ahhhh August...

27 August, 2016

#ChangeOfPlans from Today Tix

Hello Readers!

Greetings from London, where I just had one heckuva week seeing friends, visiting my favo(u)rite places, restaurants, hot spots, and of course, seeing world-class theatre.

But sometimes we don't always plan ahead, and let's face it: being spontaneous is often part of the fun of a weekend in the big city. Thanks to the great app TodayTix, you can do just that!

TodayTix got me to buy tickets to see all my pals in Showboat in the West End at the very last second I logged in to the app ON A BUS from Bath, a bus with terrible signal along the great British motorway, and despite technical challenges, within 60 seconds I had house seats to Showboat in the West End for 7:30 that night. Hours later, I checked my bags at the New London, walked up to the box office, collected my swanky seats and enjoyed West End theatre at its very finest. So simple and straightforward.

I was such a fan, that TodayTix and I got in touch and now, they have teamed up with my humble little London Still, to not only give me a great night out, but to offer YOU one as well thanks to their #ChangeOfPlans campaign, encouraging you, and everyone, to be spontaneous, get out, and visit the theatre!
About TodayTix

Founded by two Broadway producers, TodayTix is the first and only free mobile app for iOS and Android that provides access to the best prices on last-minute theater tickets from more than 40 Broadway and Off-Broadway shows in New York City and more than 40 shows in London’s West End theatre district. Now operating in the world’s two most iconic theater markets, the company plans to move into additional U.S. cities by the end of 2015, including Chicago, D.C. and San Francisco. 

How TodayTix Works

  1. Select your show of choice – from Wicked on Broadway to War Horse in the West End – and purchase tickets directly via the mobile app. Tickets can be purchased in 30 seconds or less! One week to one hour before show time! Wahoo!
  2. Depending on the production, you either meet the TodayTix Concierge agent outside the theater (who will hand deliver your tickets within 30 minutes of the show’s start time) or you just waltz up to the box office and collect your tickets at the theatre’s box office on the same day as the show. Basta! 

It is truly THAT simple and easy.
So how can you enjoy the same fantastic night out in London? Simple. 
Thanks to TodayTix, we are offering you the chance to win a £50 voucher to see a West End show (sorry readers, London only this time! But perhaps we can team up for other cities in the future!) on them
Here is how to enter: 
  1. Follow @TodayTixUK and @alsilbs on Twitter and Instagram.
  2. Compose a tweet tagging @TodayTixUK and @alsilbs, telling us which West End shows you would like to see, then use the hastag #ChangeOfPlans. 
It is that simple! The winner will be selected September 2, 2016 and announced on Twitter. 
Good luck readers! And I hope you enjoy your night out in Blighty thanks to TodayTix and #ChangeOfPlans!

23 August, 2016

Summer Reads: A List

Knowing you have something good to read before bed,” Vladimir Nabokov wrote, “is among the most pleasurable of sensations.

What's one of the fastest, easiest, most delicious ways to be transported?
Read a stunner of a book.

When I was a a child, I always viewed books as a means of pure, unadulterated escapism—not like It’s-a-twister-head-for-the-storm-cellar escape, but more along the lines of flying out my window into the wider world (or hopping on a magic carpet, or a Eastern European freight train, or stowing away on a pirate ship, or ya know: whatever…)

Combine that sensation with that of summer vacation? Paradise itself. Knowing you’ve got a few fine books tucked away for the nook of a tree, the beach or a patch of green lawn is akin to absolute bliss.

One’s life can get bigger inside a good book. If you don’t have the time or money to go on that summer vacation of dreams, books can take you places! When I walk into a bookstore or a library (my absolute happiest of 'Happy Places'), I am flooded with the sensation that I am at a train station, boating dock, airport— a myriad of vessels just beckoning to carry me away… If you want to travel by book, know that the trains are always leaving the station, one just needs to hop on board.

Books take you further into the glorious mysteries of life than even the very deepest conversations or friendships, for they take you inside minds and hearts of strangers who become friends. For a moment, you not only see the world through the senses of another, you experience the profundity of their feelings as well. The art of being your most generous, visionary self is fed by empathy. I believe the closest we can get is in literature: where we experience the internal, psychological lives of others.

That said, I understand that summer is the last season one wants to sign up to puzzle through a pile of dense academic tomes, and to that end, I have done the legwork for you! Assembled here is a list of perfect summer reading with one goal in mind: worthwhile books that also promise wild entertainment.

Now that’s my kind of summer.


1. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Summer is the perfect time to revisit children’s classics for there is always a day or two when you recall the ever-more-remote joys of “summer vacation,” when finishing a book (not on the “summer reading assignments” list), possibly in a tree, was the only major responsibility we had.

Norton Juster's bored and listless boy Milo is the reluctant protagonist of The Phantom Tollbooth— as much an adult as a children's book.  I'm a sucker for a brilliant pun, a detailed fantasy map, and lovable characters with snappy dialogue, and although I loved the narrative as an adolescent, the tale grows more meaningful as I get older thanks to absolutely genius wordsmithery, deep universal messages, and ya know: nostalgia

For Milo, everything's a bore. When a magical tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room (complete with toll money and snazzy car), he drives through only because he's got nothing better to do…

But on the other side, things are different.
Milo visits the island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping)
Learns all about time from his companion “watchdog” named Tock
Makes noise with The Awful Din
Floats around with the Whether Man
Quells a war between Words and Numbers
…and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason.

Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing: life is far from dull.
In fact, it's exciting beyond his wildest dreams...

A gorgeous phantasmagoric adventure story with a very real heart.

2. The Matisse Stories by AS Byatt
Summer is all about lazy days, vacations, and short jaunts to not-the-city. To that end, it is my favo(u)rite time of year for the unsung hero of literature: the short story. There is nothing better than spending a weekend away and finishing a short story on your brief excursion (that is, incidentally, why I always leave collections of short stories in my guest room— I want my guests to have the joy of a completed story during their visit!)

In my opinion (and the opinion of, like, the known literary universe), there is no living short story writer like A.S. Byatt.:
A.S. Byatt (Antonia Susan Byatt) is internationally known for her novels and short stories. Her novels include the Booker Prize-winning Possession, The Biographer’s Tale and the quartet, The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman, and her highly acclaimed collections of short stories include Sugar and Other Stories, The Matisse Stories, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, Elementals and her most recent book Little Black Book of Stories. A distinguished critic as well as a writer of fiction, A S Byatt was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999.

DAME (That’s right!) Byatt writes beautiful novels, but in my mind her short stories are peerless.

The Matisse Stories were brought into my life by the great Lady Chu, my high school British Literature teacher, turned pen-pal, turned life-long friend.  Each of A.S. Byatt's tales is in some way inspired by a painting of Henri Matisse, each is also about the intimate connection between seeing and feeling—about the ways in which a glance we meant to be casual may suddenly call forth the deepest reserves of our being.

If there is one thing to be said about this exquisite trilogy of stories, it is that you can tell that A.S. Byatt herself is a visual artist. Her mastery of color emerges as she describes the slightest details in the most peculiar of scenarios. Byatt also has a glorious insight into the psyche of ageing women, drawing empathetic and deeply human portraits, in this collection, told through the lens of the intensely visual. Powerfully written, fiercely observed, The Matisse Stories is worth every brushstroke.

Byatt is one of my favorite authors, and while I am an avid fan of all her work (but particularly her short stories), this collection is my favorite.

Byatt is an expert at conveying the insecurities of a woman who feels her looks are starting to go (which are really everyone's insecurities) and gets lost in the fantastic tales of her flamboyant hair stylist. Color and texture are important in all the stories and I love how you can see and feel them through her words. Everyone should read at least one Byatt novel or collection; this is a stunning place too start.

3. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli’s
Another short! Ever since a reviewer said Rovelli’s breezy “tone would give Brian Cox a run for his quarks” I’ve been salivating to devour the just-88 page shock bestseller which began, (briiiiilliantly) as columns in Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian newspaper. Better yet, they appeared in the paper’s Culture section, eventually outselling Fifty Shades of Grey in Italy (…You heard me.)

It’s not hard to see why: few writers, let alone physicists, capture the beauty of nature and the excitement of its discovery in such clear, rich prose. And once you join the Italian masses? Hold on to your inertia, kids, you’re going on a helluva ride fueled by world-class carbs, espresso, and SCIENCE.

Aimed at “those who know little or nothing of modern science” Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons, are nothing like suffering through AP Physics junior year. You breeze through mind-bending topics in physics. Time dilation, black holes, particles existing in multiple places at once (and all are covered in the first 20 pages), it then goes on to examine...ya know, the casual stuff. Stuff like the heat of black holes, the big bang, global warming, gravitational waves, and quantum gravity.

The result is beyond breathtaking, it is downright poetic.

4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg
During the Great Depression, rural Americans witnessed the steady erosion of their farms, towns, and lives. It is shattering to draw the parallels to today’s worldwide financial crisis, and on the home front, observing how it has affected middle class Americans is chilling.

Trying to read about such experiences is never easy. Attempting to write well about them may be even more challenging. Enter Fannie Flagg—a talented radio personality, television comedienne, film actress, and most recently novelist, general Renaissance woman and Southerner extraordinaire—who gives it a glorious whirl.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café is the story of the town of Whistle Stop, Alabama, and its residents over the course of three generations. Most of the story centers on Ruth Jamison and Idgie Threadgoode, two best friends (and implied lovers) who impacted the lives of everyone in their community. The story is told both in present tense, from the 1920’s – 1940’s, when the events occurred, and in past tense, when Ninny Threadgoode relives those events by retelling them to her friend, Evelyn Crouch, in the 1980’s.

Flagg exhibits that endemically Southern gift for storytelling—spinning tales at the deceptively easy going pace of the rural American grapevine that only seems to grow south of the Mason Dixon Line.
    "Of course, most of the house is all boarded up and falling down now, but when we came down the street, the headlights hit the windows in such a way that, just for a minute, that house looked to me just like it had... some seventy years ago, all lit up and full of fun and noise... I guess, driving by that house and me being so homesick made me go back in my mind... "
While there is a beautiful (slightly watered-down) film version from the early 1990s with gorgeous performances by some of our greatest actresses, it robs one of the joys of Flagg’s distinctive prose stylings, her quirky, feminist humor, and a total poetic individuality stemming from her unusual and fly-in-the-face-of-life personality (in her teens, Flagg wore a wet suit, mask, and flippers in the Miss Alabama swimsuit competition…I think that pretty much sums it up…)

Perfect summer reading for its description of heat, love, scandal, history, wild hunger, and boundary-crossing social politics, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café is an ideal summer companion. It’s exactly the kind of book that will make you feel as though you’ve traveled the world and made dear friends along the way.

5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Listen up, readers.
I have a Top Ten List of Favo(u)rite Books (which, I hope you have ascertained at this point, is a wide-spread, carefully selected and highly cultivated list).  And, on that Top Ten List, if I had the guts to create a slot that was in some way a “Super Slot—” an unparalleled slot that held within it a superpower; one that could blow the other nine books up into tiny little pieces of book shrapnel in a single bound! ...Well anyway, weak metaphors aside, this book would be it.

As it is, I tend to declare this book’s power thus:

"On my Top Ten List of Favo(u)rite Books, East of Eden takes up the first three slots."

(No blowing-things-up required.)

Am I making myself clear?
This is not hyperbole.
This is fact.
East of Eden is not a joke.
It is, in my opinion, the most important book I have ever read.

Bypass these perfectly decent attempts at dramatizing something that cannot possibly be dramatized because you might as well be dramatizing the BIBLE (which, let's face it, never really works out either...) and go for what Steinbeck considered to be his masterpiece.
America's greatest writer.
Felt this was his MAS-TER-PIECE.
Why are you even still reading my blog?
Why aren't you purchasing it right now?

I religiously re-read East of Eden every four years, and every time I find something completely new within it.

Don't hesitate to read what I consider to be the most important book in the world.

18 August, 2016

'Scientific Romance' by Tim Pratt

If starship travel from our
Earth to some far
star and back again
at velocities approaching the speed
of light made you younger than me
due to the relativistic effects
of time dilation,
I’d show up on your doorstep hoping
you’d developed a thing for older men,
and I’d ask you to show me everything you
learned to pass the time
out there in the endless void
of night.
If we were the sole survivors
of a zombie apocalypse
and you were bitten and transformed
into a walking corpse
I wouldn’t even pick up my
assault shotgun,
I’d just let you take a bite
out of me, because I’d rather be
undead forever
with you
than alive alone
without you.
If I had a time machine, I’d go back
to the days of your youth
to see how you became the someone
I love so much today, and then
I’d return to the moment we first met
just so I could see my own face
when I saw your face
for the first time,
and okay,
I’d probably travel to the time
when we were a young couple
and try to get a three-way
going. I never understood
why more time travelers don’t do
that sort of thing.
If the alien invaders come
and hover in stern judgment
over our cities, trying to decide
whether to invite us to the Galactic
Federation of Confederated
Galaxies or if instead
a little genocide is called for,
I think our love could be a powerful
argument for the continued preservation
of humanity in general, or at least,
of you and me
in particular.
If we were captives together
in an alien zoo, I’d try to make
the best of it, cultivate a streak
of xeno-exhibitionism,
waggle my eyebrows, and make jokes
about breeding in captivity.
If I became lost in
the multiverse, exploring
infinite parallel dimensions, my
only criterion for settling
down somewhere would be
whether or not I could find you:
and once I did, I’d stay there even
if it was a world ruled by giant spider-
priests, or one where killer
robots won the Civil War, or even
a world where sandwiches
were never invented, because
you’d make it the best
of all possible worlds anyway,
and plus
we could get rich
off inventing sandwiches.
If the Singularity comes
and we upload our minds into a vast
computer simulation of near-infinite
complexity and perfect resolution,
and become capable of experiencing any
fantasy, exploring worlds bound only
by our enhanced imaginations,
I’d still spend at least 10^21 processing
cycles a month just sitting
on a virtual couch with you,
watching virtual TV,
eating virtual fajitas,
holding virtual hands,
and wishing
for the real thing.

Zombie love. © Patri Balanovsky

16 August, 2016

Tzeitel Tzeremony

I am going on vacation this week from my beloved Fiddler on the Roof, and in my absence, the lovely Tess Primack and Jennifer Zetlan (not only talented colleague but friends!) will be stepping into the wedding dress.

I wanted to give them a special "bridal shower" to pass the torch for their week of shows.

After all, how could I not offer them the (achem) traditional
     Something Old
          Something New
               Something Borrowed
                        Something Blue?

Below is the "Tzeitel Tzeremony."

From Broadway World:

"Based on the treasured writings of Sholem Aleichem, the classic Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is a show that celebrates traditions as well as celebrates the need to change them now and then. As Tevye and Golde's oldest daughter, Tzeitel, in the hit Broadway revival, Alexander Silber is the first to challenge her community's tradition of arranged marriages. She also may be the first Tzeitel to make an event out of handing the role over to her two understudies while she takes a vacation. Watch the fun as Silber engages Tess Primack and Jennifer Zetlan in the 'Tzeitel Tzeremony.'" 

11 August, 2016

Adult-ing: Part 3

11. Emotions are not a choice. Behavior is.
     People ask me really smart questions all the time.
Questions like:
    “How do you deal with being afraid of failure?
    “How do you not worry about being rejected?
    “What if you get really really really out of control sad and you lose your mind not on stage where you might win a Tony, but, say, at the bank where you might get escorted away by security?
    “How do you not lose your mind screaming at really ignorant/ meany-pants/ stupid/ entitled people that all want a piece of you?

I’m aware that this is a fairly irritating answer but: I deal with fear, worry, sadness and anger by actually dealing with fear, worry, sadness and anger. Most of us (those that aren’t very psychologically ill) feel the same feelings everyone else does; thus we must try our darnedest not to identify as the emotions, but to accept, incorporate, learn what we can, and move forward in the face of those Big Feels.

In short: we can’t always chose what we feel, we can chose our actions in the face of those feelings.

12.  “Comparison is the thief of joy” — Theodore Roosevelt
     Our 26th President was more than a great orator, explorer, soldier, and environmentalist… he was also so correct about comparison. And being brave.
He also had a very fetching moustache.

13. DONE is better than PERFECT.
     Just do the thing.
Finish it.
Press send.
It will never be perfect.

14. Prioritize your health. Take it seriously.

     There are two things in life we do not respect and appreciate until they are no longer with us— money and health. When you have money, you don’t think about its absence. But when you don’t: Whoa Nellie. There is no teacher white like an empty pocket.

Same holds true for our health. One day you are in your teens and twenties, hot and a little clueless, frolicking around the world like you own the place, filing your liver with vodka tonics and ice cream like there’s no tomorrow because let's face it: There isn't! You are young! You are sooo healthy! I mean, you will be once you karate-chop the crap out of this hangover but come on: you can still see your abs so who needs that stupid BS called “Health Insurance?!” That shit is for old people and SUCKAAAAS...

Then one day? You’re a mess. (Truuuuussst meeee...) You’re wake up one day and you are on the phone with some totally unsympathetic healthcare “provider” named Linda who doesn’t give a f*** that you missed the Obamacare deadline and just got kicked off your parent’s plan and— What? how much is that medication I suddenly need to take for the rest of my life? Uhhhh right. Whoops. Maybe I should have taken better care of myself. Run a few more laps and lived a few less days fueled by coffee and enthusiasm

You hear me?

Reader, we get one ride and one vehicle, so taking care of your ONLY SWEET-ASS RIDE ON PLANET EARTH EVER is not only a freakin’ miracle, but your highest responsibility.

     Feed your body good and real food.
     Give it long and decent sleep.
     Hot, safe, (hopefully at least vaguely) meaningful sex.
     Give it fun and life-affirming exercise.
     Say nice things to it.
     Dress it the heck up.

Take charge of your health and happiness, and you'll lower your stress, become more productive, and have more energy.

Other people will doubtless benefit from your "me time," too. Prioritize spiritual resilience and do things that truly nourish you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and you'll bring greater patience and a more positive attitude to every aspect of your life including your relationships. You cannot help but become a better parent, spouse, team player and general citizen of the world.

and, to conclude, one of my favorites:

15. Courtesy costs nothing.
Thank you Anthony Andrews for one of the first lessons of my career. I will never forget Anthony's final performance as Count Fosco in The Woman in White in London. Anthony filled our Palace Theatre lobby with delicacies, beverages, music and decorations, and invited every single person who worked in the theatre from our leading lady to the people that worked the box office and cleaned the bathrooms. When I asked him how on earth he could even consider being so incredibly generous, his reply was a calm and heartfelt "My darling, courtesy costs nothing..."

...And wow is he right. The best things in life are free. Even if you don't have pockets full of money, a smile, a thank you, and pleasantry, is a gift you can give every day.


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