Spring Break 2017

After a month and a half of being entirely too busy to update my blog, I'm back (because it's tech week so I have ...more time? Not at all. I just feel like procrastinating more!) with all the details of my Spring Break: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Day 1: I flew home on Saturday morning after a grueling week of classes. I was definitely ready for the break, but my flight was so early that it was better for me to stay up all night on Friday so as not to oversleep and miss my plane. Consequently, however, when I fell asleep on both planes before they even took off, I somehow missed my coat being stolen or mistaken for a lost item and removed from my flight. I had a small breakdown, primarily from exhaustion, upon seeing my mom and brother, but felt a lot better after 4 hours at my piano. It's good to be home.

Day 2: I caught up on the sleep I'd been missing all semester, took my brother out to lunch, visited with my grandparents, and went to my parents' small group through their church. We talked about the passage in which Jesus asks a sick, paralyzed man if he wants to be healed, and when the man responds that he does, Jesus tells him to simply get up and walk. I miss going to church.

Day 3: I started my day at 7 AM on a drive I hadn't been on since I was 12: the journey from my house to Meigs Middle School. I spent the day observing my old band director teach and prepare his students for their Concert Festival Performance the next day. My high school band director showed up later in the afternoon, and invited me to observe a rehearsal at his school, so I ended up visiting there as well. After a long day of rehearsals, I saw an old friend and had dinner with my other grandparents. I love band music.

Day 4: Once again, my day began early, but this time I went to observe an Eastman alumna who now teaches elementary general music at Waverly-Belmont. I was blown away by the songwriting projects she was working on with her 3rd and 4th graders, because I remember doing a similar project 3-4 years later in my education. Then, I visited my grand director (that's my mom's old band director) to observe him teach high school band, where he let me sit in on their jazz band and play a few tunes. I miss jazz a lot.

Day 5: I slept in, woke up with a sore throat, and packed. Maybe I ran some errands? I can't remember. My mom, my brother, and I piled into a car (and then into a plane) to go to New York for Emmett's first time. It's good to see my dad.

Day 6: I woke up feeling definitely sick. I figured it was just the 38th floor apartment air, but the longer the day went on, the more I wanted to curl up in bed and never swallow again. My mom, my brother, and I went to 2 different Duane Reade's, a Walgreens, and a CVS, but couldn't find a clinic where someone could test me for strep. But the CVS was close to the Rockefeller center, so my brother dragged us to the Lego store. We met Dad after his rehearsal and all went to see Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which was just as brilliant as I had hoped. Though mildly overwhelming, the show made me re-think my own artistic potential and the innovative possibilities within theatre. We left the show to have dinner at a super fancy restaurant (at 11 PM... Sometimes I forget that my parents are even bigger night owls than I am), where the sommelier told us that if I wanted to see a doctor, I needed to find an "Urgent Care" place. We went home and all fell fast asleep. I love theatre so much.

Day 7: I woke up feeling like death. Thanks to last night's advice, dad and I walked 8 blocks to the nearest "Urgent Care" clinic, where I was prescribed some antibiotics. And although I couldn't swallow anything (and I mean anything... no cold drinks, no hot drinks, and definitely no solid food), nothing could stop me from eating at Pret A Manger: my favorite big city franchise and the holy grail that I had been looking forward to for weeks. My mom took my brother exploring some more, while Dad and I got to see a staged reading type performance of the show he had been working on (it wasn't really a staged reading, because the cast and band were great... it's kind of hard to explain because it definitely wasn't a reading, but it also wasn't very staged... but it was good and that's all that matters) before returning to the apartment so I could rest and Dad could get some work done. Then. The most incredible piece of theatre I have ever experienced. Dear Evan Hansen was brilliant, beautiful, moving, and so many more things that I struggle to put into words. Although I loved Great Comet, I noticed that I had more of an artistic connection with it than an emotional one, and I was worried that since I had so heavily studied the music of Dear Evan Hansen in a way similar to how I studied Great Comet, I would somehow lose some of the emotional impact. But no. I was blown away by the artistic beauty with which Pasek and Paul, as well as Steven Levenson, communicated the complexities of grief, teenage mental illness, and so many more prevalent issues. It is incredibly inspiring to me when people use their artistic gifts to say something that needs to be said, and I think this is such a beautiful example. If you ever have an opportunity to go see this show, I would highly recommend doing so! However, part of what happens to me when I get inspired by things like this is that I throw myself into my to-do list in an attempt to either accomplish something of similar weight or remove tasks standing in my way. So after this show, I stayed up until 4 AM re-typesetting 7 cues for Next to Normal because our pit is doing a little bit of orchestration shifting. I'm tired.

Day 8: I woke up feeling a little better, mostly because I slept all morning. Still having trouble swallowing, I forced some mangos down my throat while finishing up my copy work from the night before. Eventually, after working up the energy to move, Dad and I walked to Times Square and then to Lincoln Center in search of tickets to something and a nice walk around Manhattan. We ended up with tickets to Groundhog Day, which we were both excited to see since a. the creative team was almost the exact same as the creative team from Matilda, which I loved, and b. we didn't know anything else about the show, which was a welcome change for Dad from spending the past 5 years on the same 3-4 shows. On our walk back, we stopped at Bouchon Bakery, where I had the most delicious meal of my life, and then we rested/worked until it was time to leave for the show. During the rest/work time, I looked up reviews of Groundhog Day to see how the show was doing, especially since I hadn't heard much. Come to find out, we had tickets to their fourth preview performance, which was really their third because the first got cancelled due to technical difficulties with the revolving stage. Other than that, most reviews were praising their professionalism in crisis as well as the show itself. I got even more excited to see it.

Now this next part may be an unpopular and harsh opinion because I have found many MANY glowing reviews of this show, so feel free to skip this paragraph. But I feel very strongly about this and felt like including that here. I am not claiming to be an experienced theatre critic, but Groundhog Day was most definitely the worst piece of theatre I have ever witnessed in my life. Aside from a 15 minute hold in the middle of Act 1 (due to what we assume to be similar technical difficulties to the first performance), the show ran as smoothly as it could have, I guess. The humor ranged from inappropriate to immature. The potential for thought-provoking discussion was not explored. The staging was juvenile. The music was okay, but the songs never propelled the story forward. I texted my mom at intermission with "This show is a disaster", knowing she would assume I was talking about more technical difficulties. But nope. I was talking about the show. I wish I could recount the many times I looked at my father at a complete loss, but nothing in the show was even that memorable... Except for the 10 minute dance number in which the poor drummer had to drum onstage. In a groundhog mascot outfit. -10000/10 would not recommend.

I went home and slept, exhausted from a Spring Break well spent. I am ready to go back to school.

Day 9: Airports. Plane delays. Still sick. Happy to be back in Rochester.

All in all, I had a wonder Spring "Break" (if you can even call it a break), and have launched myself into tech week for Next to Normal, which I will be excited to write about next week. Thank you all for reading, and for anyone concerned, I still have not recovered my coat, but my antibiotics have kicked in and I am feeling much better. Have a wonderful day :)

Reagan Casteel