Colorado like Alaska is a beautiful state. I was around 8 to 10 years old when I went to Colorado. We were in both Keystone and Denver. One of my Uncles lives in Colorado. I ended up going white water rafting. I ended up going with all my first cousins. I wish I could say more about Colorado, but due to being younger, I can’t much. I may or may not have remembered going to Colorado. I feel like I do, but don’t know if I only know because someone told me or not. Alaska and Colorado were the only states I been to in the West Part of the United States.
In 2011, I went to Alaska with my family and cousins on a very special trip. We went through Tauck Bridges. Think of it as a cruise, but instead the boat is a bus. Alaska is one of the most beautiful states I been to, but one of the longest flights. We started in Anchorage and eventually made it to Alyeska. The badge below is the name of the trip we wen on. The whale fluke (tail) was part of a glacier cruise we went on and fun fact: the color of the water was based on color of glacier. Fun facts about Mt. McKinley: only 30% of travelers in Alaska get to see it so that was a bonus, it is also known as Denali, and I only know its height is 20,320 because of the name of a restaurant I went to.
We went to Anchorage all the way to Alyeska. We went on a couple of hikes, and one of them was six miles. We did some geocaching, which is a compass-natured scavenger hunt. We panned for gold, met sled dogs, went on a bush plane and saw many of snow-covered mountains while on the plane, and among other memories.
Alaska is a very beautiful state in so many ways. The different animals and landscapes are beautiful. The odd thing about Alaska is the sunlight. When I was there, at about 9 at night, it was still light outside so it was very easy to stay up even though it was night already. I love these trips when it involves my parents, my sister and I, and cousins.
Starting tomorrow, will begin one of my blog series.
I live in the United States and have been to an amazing amount of states. I was thinking what if I do a series where I talk about each state I have been to. I want to talk about why I have been in each state. Some of these states have wonderful memories including the state I have lived in. The first state will be Alaska and they will be in alphabetical order.
What do I mean by college musicals? These are the musicals I fell in love with during my years at college. Some of them come to mind a lot. A good chunk of them are meaningful. I am going to make a list of what musicals they are.
1. Les Mis- this is the most obvious. I fell in love with it in my first year of college and that was in 2012-2013. First saw the movie December 2012 and was confused and shocked due to it being a tragedy and did not what to think of it. So had to give it a second chance until I could fall in love with this musical. By summer, I was obsessed with it. In 2013, I saw my first stage production of it 3x due to being an usher. In 2015, I saw the musical in the West End with my mom with an understudy as Jean Valjean. In 2017, I saw the stage show a 5th time in Greenville with my university with an understudy as Eponine. Les Mis taught me that tragic musicals exist and that I used to be 100% blind to heartbreak in musical. I learned that tragedies are so much more than I once thought. There are so many wonderful reasons to love Les Mis. All because of Les Mis, I have a passion for musicals.
2. Rent- I fell in love with it Fall 2012 through music alone. I don’t when it was, but I soon realized the plot. This musical like Les Mis is sad. It took five years till I saw the musical live. Prior, I saw the film of the final broadway cast doing the stage show. But last year really was my first time seeing the stage show. It teaches you how to live life. It teaches you to live in love even in the face of fear and to live in the moment. My favorite couple in Rent is Mimi and Roger. Last year, I was an emotional wreck watching it.
3. Phantom of the Opera- this musical started to enter my life 2013. My mom told me about Phantom of the Opera, and I automatically requested the song on Pandora. I fell in love with the songs and I wanted to eventually see the stage show. That Christmas I got a ticket in my stocking and so did my mom. In 2014 in May, my mom and I went to Greenville to see Phantom of the Opera. I was spellbound the moment the show began, and in the first act, I did not move until the chandelier fell. I was choked up watching it.
4. Newsies- this is one of the newest musicals of my life. I first heard the songs I think summer 2016, but I only enjoyed them. I first saw the stage show August 2016. Before seeing it, I heard it was Tony Award winning choreography, so I decided to not watch the dance ahead of time. This was the only show I have seen that is all males (well there are a couple females, but not much). I was mind-blown at the dancing: they were flipping, dancing on newspapers, jumping over each other and so many other amazing tricks. The story is so inspiring. The fact that these Newsboys stood up against Pulitzer is incredible. The relationship found between the Newsies is beautiful: they are basically one big family, and the intimate relationship between Jack and Crutchie is special. After seeing it live, I learned to love the songs. I love how Jack is so protective of his brothers especially of Crutchie. He cannot bear to see his brothers hurt, which eventually leads him to go through an inner conflict.
5. Music Man- this was a musical I saw at my university my first semester. Music Man was a musical that started my best year of musicals. I just love how light-hearted it is. It is one of the most light-hearted musicals I ever saw. I love how this con-man (Harold Hill) transformed this town. The romance between Harold Hill and Marian helped bring an emotional element to this show since the musical focuses on positive emotions a lot. So the romance helps bring an emotional element that the show needs.
6. Pippin- I don’t when it was, but my dad had me listen to “Corner of the Sky”. The moment I heard the song, I wanted to see Pippin. Then I wanted to see it more after seeing the trailer. It seemed like they were doing a circus version of the show and I wanted to see it even more. Then I heard it was a Stephen Swartz musical and I knew that Pippin would be amazing because after all, he wrote the music to Wicked. I got my chance in 2015 when I went with my mom and we were lucky because when mom got tickets, there was one day left with seats together. This show had the antagonist as narrator and I loved Lisa Karlin’s portrayal of her. In “Magic to Do”, she was very playful with a small hint of evil. But during “Glory”, her voice represented darkness. She was very playful around Pippin to manipulative him in making the wrong decision so Pippin makes a lot of mistakes throughout the musical. The Leading Player is very crafty, dark, playful, and manipulative and I gained all of this from Lisa Karlin’s portrayal. After just one act, I wanted the soundtrack even after not hearing the act II songs.
7. South Pacific- when I was still a student at community college, there was school cancelled due to snow days. A friend of my parents leant my family and I about six or so musical movie. South Pacific ended up being one of them. The main story is a love story between Emelie and Nellie during World War. It is a very romantic tale. It is my 2nd best Rodgers and Hammerstein musical: the first is Sound of Music. It songs are fun, romantic, and emotional. Like expected with Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, there is a 2nd love story, which is between Liat and Joe Cable. It does have an underlying story of racism.
So here are some of my college musicals.
As many people know, I love reading classics. In the past few years, I did a classic challenge where I attempt to read a classic in a limited amount of time. Now that I am graduated, I can read those books at a slower rate, but it does help having a deadline. I have decided to extend the deadline to end of September, and I love that because I do not have to read as quickly. That means I can read less in a day. The classic I am reading is Nicholas Nickleby.
Four very special theatre dates are the ones I went on with my mom. They are Wicked on Broadway, Phantom of the Opera in Greenville, Pippin in Charlotte, and Les Mis in London. On this post I decided to talk about each of these theatre dates.
The earliest date I been to a theatre with my mom was Wicked. My mom and I went on a trip to NYC together. It was just us two and that is what made that trip so special. During the trip, we saw a show on Broadway, and it was Wicked. That was back in 2006, and I was 12 at the time. Little did I know the impact Wicked would have. All I remember was being with my mom, and that “Popular” was my favorite song. However, the impact clearly shows throughout the years. I just cannot believe Wicked has been part of my life for 12 years.
Wicked changed me “for good” and really was the beginning of the journey with musicals. I wish I remember more about seeing Wicked on Broadway. I was lucky that at the age of 12 I was able to see a show in NYC. Wicked was the earliest theatre date I remember.
In 2013, Santa gave my mom and I tickets to see Phantom of the Opera in May of 2014. I wanted to see the musical live since falling in love with the songs early 2013. The Peace Center is a gorgeous theatre, and we sat in the orchestra nineteen rows back. I was spellbound once the show began, and I remember during the overture not taking my eyes off the chandelier. I got choked up watching the production. In the first act, I did not move until the chandelier fell, and during that scene I jumped back a bit. That scene was just so thrilling.
When I first heard “Corner of the Sky”, I wanted to eventually watch Pippin. When it first toured to Charlotte, I did not see it. Pippin was very unexpected. It was 2015, and my mom got tickets the week before. When she bought tickets, there was only one day left with two seats together so I almost didn’t get to go. The tickets had seats with five rows back from the stage. I felt like I was watching a circus during the show, and I loved the moment when they let us sing along to one of the songs. It was filled with illusions and several circus elements. Right after act I, I wanted the soundtrack even though I still had not heard the 2nd act.
I saw Les Mis in the West End the same summer I saw Pippin. Ever since 2013, it was a dream to see Les Mis in London. I knew my church was going to go to England to be in residence at Bristol Cathedral, and I knew a pilgrimage was planned around that. It just didn’t occur to me my family was going to go up two days early to get more of London. It was 2014 in December I think when I found out my family was going up two days early. That is when I started nagging my mom to take me to see Les Mis. They eventually told me that I was going to see a show in the West End, but I wanted to know which one it was. It just had to be Les Mis and nothing else.
All Spring semester 2015, I was getting impatient about which show it was going to be. June 2015 comes along, and my mom texted me french flags and musical note emojis, but it did not make sense to me at all. My mom then told me to check my email. When I saw the words, Les Misérables, I ran to my mom and started crying. My dream of seeing Les Mis in the West End was coming true. I feel like seeing Les Mis in London with my mom was full circle after seeing Wicked on Broadway. After all, Wicked and Les Mis are neck and neck tied for my favorite musical. To see both of them at a large theatre district is very special.
We saw the musical July 30th, 2015. My mom wanted to make sure I got the best seats possible and they were. We were nine rows back from the stage. When I saw the theatre all the way to seeing the sets, it did not feel like reality at all. I knew I was going to see an understudy (Adam Bayjou) as Jean Valjean. The moment I heard the first couple of notes, I knew this was reality, and that it was going to be more than expected. The cast was epic, passionate and powerful. While Adam was an understudy, he made me forget I was watching an understudy, and that shows just how good he was.
Going to the theatre with my mom is quite special. Part of why I love each of these musicals were the dates I had with my mom. The dates added a meaningful part to each musical. I saw Wicked when I was 12, Phantom of the Opera when I was 20 and I saw Pippin and Les Mis when I was 21. My mom and I both love musicals. I hope I get to go to NYC and experience Broadway again, but this time want it to be a theatre-themed trip. Cannot believe that all four musicals were seen in different cities. Glad I experienced both Broadway and the West End.
Graduation is a huge celebration. College is not easy. It is very difficult so graduating from college is a big accomplishment. I may have had some really tough classes, but I managed to get through them. Getting to this requires a lot of hard work and determination. Part of why college is so amazing is all of the social things. You make friends that will last forever.
Graduation can be a bit chaotic. I had to get dressed in my gown and carry my cap to Dover Theatre on Campus. Graduates had to meet there to get rest of the stuff we had to wear. I already was in gown and my two pins were on the gown and I was already wearing my honors cord. But at the theatre, I got my hood and my red medallion. I had no idea what it would like during the graduation ceremony. In the theatre, we were separated by Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts. Of what to do, we basically were told treat it like “Follow” the leader.
Below is the top of my cap. So many people at Gardner Webb know me and many know about my obsession for Les Mis so I decided to capture that on my cap. I used the gray and yellow border to represent the tragic and spiritual nature of the show. The letters are written in blue and red to signify France. I was struggling with figuring out what the words should be. I eventually settled down to the romantic “A Heart Full of Love”. Yes, I picked the romantic song of the show but it works. I have such a strong love for the school so it works.
It was crazy leaving the theatre and heading towards the gym. We all headed in different directions to get there. The Bachelor of Arts graduates basically headed towards backstage and out stage door. It was just when we were waiting to get in the gym, it felt like we were not even moving. I could hear the opening music but we just were not moving. I was so excited when we actually were finally processing into the gym. I felt very excited that I was finally graduating. The slowest part of graduation was commencement. The number of people graduating with a Bachelor of Science was crazy: it felt like there were more than 100 people with that. My group, Bachelor of Arts, we had to get our diplomas last even though we were in the front. I thought during commencement I would feel a mix of emotions from excitement to pride to feeling a bit sad. But the sadness of Gardner Webb did not hit during the ceremony.
Below is a picture of me actually getting my diploma. There is so much pride and excitement in that photo. I have had so many wonderful memories at Gardner Webb and once a Bulldog always a bulldog.
The sadness did not kick in until after graduation. It was during the reception when I was hugging one of my suitemates, who is also one of my best friends. I realized the two of us weren’t be living together, but I know the two of us will still be friends. While I graduated, Sydney has two more years. The two of us just didn’t want to let to. But while unpacking the room, the bittersweet nature kicked in more. I just cannot believe I am actually graduated. My memories and friends I will never forget.