Life Update

Now that I'm starting my second term of my Master's and have been living in London for a few months, I thought I would give all my readers a little bit of an update on my life. If you've been reading my other blog, a lot of this may not be news to you.

I officially finished my first term of my Master's degree and am just waiting to hear back my grades for my classes (all based on one essay each -- yikes!). I'm starting a new set of classes this week: Cultural Policy, Introduction to Research, Fundraising, and Digital Cultures. I'm very much looking forward to them. Unfortunately because of my schedule, I can't continue taking my German class but I'm hoping to try to follow along with learning on my own. I also will be starting my dissertation this spring so definitely wish me luck on that.

Most excitingly, I've started my internship at the Donmar Warehouse. Doing the development internship at the Donmar has been a dream of mine since I first discovered the theatre company my first year of university. I've just completed my first week and I've never been so happy. I already got to see their current show Belleville and can't wait for the next show, The York Realist, which opens soon. The Donmar is a not-for-profit theatre company that produces incredible pieces of work and the staff have all been so friendly and helpful. 

I've officially been a writer for BroadwayWorld UK since November and have been doing show reviews and interviews. I also have been assisting our videographer and might be striking out on my own as a videographer one day soon. You can check out all my BWW work here

Since the fall, I've been a volunteer at the Charles Dickens Museum. I am a Room Steward at Dickens' only surviving London home every Saturday. The Dickens Museum is like a second home to me and I love all of the staff there so much.

In terms of my online presence, I'm currently hovering around 250 subscribers on YouTube which is a huge milestone for me though it wouldn't be for some. I got a beautiful DSLR for Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad!) and can't wait to produce better quality content with it. I also bought my domain name for this blog so you may notice that I'm now officially a .com. I have some exciting things in the works so definitely check back soon. 

You can also check out the life update that I filmed for my channel which rehashes mostly the same stuff I've explained above. Let me know what's going on in your lives on Twitter or in the comments below. x

Top Ten Books I Read in 2017

I not only met my reading goal of 20 books for this year, but I actually went a few books over it! Spending the summer at home, not working or going to school, left me with a lot of time to read. Plus, one of the best things about living in London is how much reading I can do on public transport. I wanted to share ten of my favorite books that I read with you this year in no particular order. 

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
By far, my favorite book that I read this year was The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. (If you follow me on social media, you might recognize that the book in the photo above is not my copy but the one that I bought my sister for Christmas.) I read the book in preparation for seeing the musical based on it, but quickly fell in love with the story and the characters in their own right. It's a chilling Gothic tale about sisters, identity, secrets, and love and celebrates those who stand up to people who mistreat them and their loved ones. I have to admit that Walter Hartright is my favorite male character in all of literature. I highly recommend this book as I don't understand why it's so overlooked amongst other classics.

All That She Can See by Carrie Hope Fletcher
While I loved Carrie Hope Fletcher's first novel, I much preferred her second one. I'm not typically one for fantasy, but I love the way that Carrie uses magical realism. I really loved the main character, Cherry, and I thought that the main concept of the novel (of people who can see feelings) was so amazing.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie 
I had never read any Agatha Christie but when I found out about the Murder on the Orient Express movie coming out, I knew I had to start. My friend Will recommended that I begin with And Then There Were None and I'm so glad I did. I was so absolutely wrapped up in the plot that I read it within a few hours and had no idea who did the crime until it was revealed.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 
While Jane Austen is my favorite author, I had never read this story before. I love how it gently makes fun of gothic novels and how complicated the characters are. Mr. Tilney might be my favorite Austen hero now and I think Catherine is one of Austen's most relatable heroines.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
I love Carrie Fisher and I thought this memoir was fascinating. I didn't know much about her childhood as the daughter of two celebrities and it was enlightening in so many ways. It combines such serious topics with amazing humor in a way I can only imagine Carrie doing.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
I absolutely loved this book in a way I never thought I would like a thriller! Once again, I had no idea who had done the crime until it was revealed and I felt that this story was so compelling; I loved (almost) every single character. Also, the movie adaption directed by Kenneth Branagh was one of my top three films that I saw in 2017.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell 
I had never read a Rainbow Rowell novel before but when I found Attachments, I fell in love with its concept. It alternates between two female work colleagues and the IT guy who has to read their email exchanges that keep getting flagged for breaking company policy as they trade gossip about their lives.

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland
I absolutely loved Louise Pentland's debut novel. Her main character Robin Wilde is a single mother trying to navigate the career world, returning to dating, and raising a young daughter all at once. This is far more than the 'YouTuber book' it's been called. I cannot wait for the sequel as Robin, her crazy but well-meaning aunt, and her adorable daughter all feel like friends that I wish I could meet for tea.

Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher
Giovanna Fletcher is by far my favorite living author (to make the distinction from my other favorite, Jane Austen) as I love how relatable her characters always are. I picked up Some Kind of Wonderful at the airport and I'm so glad I did as it was just what I needed to end 2017. The main character is so amazingly resilient and I was so inspired by how she picked herself up after a bad breakup and built a new life for herself.

The Note by Zoe Follbig
The Note was such a fun novel and a lot more lighthearted than what I typically read, which I appreciated. It's based on the premise of falling in love with someone on the train, but it also is a really lovely novel about pursuing your passions. I highly recommend it!

I didn't think it was fair to include them on my list since they were rereads but I also read Pride and Prejudice and Hamlet this year and absolutely loved them both, as always.

If you'd like to see every book that I read in 2017, you can check out my Goodreads page -- and make sure to friend me while you're there. What was your favorite book that you read in 2017? x

Top Ten Shows I Saw in 2017

I wanted to share my top ten shows that I saw in 2017 with all of you. This year, I saw several US tours, three shows on Broadway, and a plethora of shows in London (and even one UK tour). It's the most theatre I've ever seen in one year!

I also saw many more plays than I've ever seen before and actually loved so many of them. I want to continue to see a lot of plays in 2018; if you have any suggestions, please do let me know. In any case, here are my favorites in no particular order:

If you forced me to pick a number one show, it would most likely be this one. The Great Comet is unlike anything I'd ever seen before. I was lucky enough to see it and sit in the stage seating in March and I can honestly say it changed my life. Everyone in the cast was amazing from Josh Groban to Denée Benton (I still cry occasionally thinking about her in "Pierre and Natasha") and especially Blaine Krauss, the understudy I saw as Anatole. It was also without a doubt my most-played cast album of the year. You can read my full review here and my post about its closing here.

I still can't quite believe my luck that I got to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child so soon after moving to London -- and bought my tickets that day at the box office! What an amazing show; while its plot might be a bit wonky, its actors and its special effects certainly make up for it. It captures the magic of Harry Potter perfectly and James Howards' Draco Malfoy and Tom Aldridge's Ron Weasley are the best portrayals of any Potter character you could ever ask for. 

I'm still in awe that I got tickets for me and my mom to see Hamlet at the RADA the weekend that I moved to London. How could Hamlet directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Tom Hiddleston be anything other than perfect? This production made me reconsider some things that I thought I knew about the play and its characters and there's nothing like watching Hiddleston act from the third row. You can read my full review here.

Even though Kinky Boots is one of my favorite musicals, I was still surprised to realize that I saw it three times in 2017. I was lucky enough to see it on Broadway in March with my favorite actor Killian Donnelly as Charlie Price. But there's nothing like seeing a show in the country it's set in and I actually saw it twice in London, once from the middle of the front row! You can read my review of the show on Broadway here and my review of the West End production with understudy Jordan Fox as Charlie Price here.

Les Mis will always hold a special place in my heart and will likely make my top ten list any year that I see it. I was able to see the anniversary production this year; I bought a standing room ticket and standing that long was definitely worth it to see Boublil and Schonberg come out to sing "Happy Birthday" at the end! Killian Donnelly is definitely one of the best Valjeans I've ever seen and this current cast is overall so strong. The show hit me a lot harder this time than it typically does, but it truly never fails to break my apart and then put me back together again.

Miss Saigon is perhaps my favorite show of all time and I felt so lucky that I got to see this astounding production on Broadway with some of my favorite actors in the world. Alistair Brammer's Chris is still one of my favorite performances I've ever seen and Eva Noblezada is one of the best actresses I've ever seen in anything. Round out the cast with the astounding Jon Jon Briones, Katie Rose Clarke, and Rachelle Ann Gogh along with a talented ensemble and it's no wonder it made my top ten list. You can read my review here

I was a Shakespeare nerd when I was younger and the Globe's production of Much Ado revived that love in every way. From Matthew Needham's endearing Benedick to the setting in revolutionary Mexico to the decision to cast Don John as a woman, everything about this show was perfection. I ended up seeing it from the yard twice -- and it was such an amazing experience to see Shakespeare as most people in his day saw it.

The Royal Shakespeare Company's Queen Anne was the first show I saw in what is now my favorite theatre, the Theatre Royal Haymarket. It's a heartbreaking story about Queen Anne and her once-friend Sarah Churchill (I love visiting Kensington Palace where she actually lived). It was so well written, well acted, and well staged. I wish that I'd been in London for more of its run because I certainly would have returned to see it a second time if I'd not attended its last show.

Somewhat embarrassingly, I saw this show four times in the few months it was open. This brilliant and provocative play was staged so perfectly and raised so many issues relevant to this year. I also got to see two of my favorite actors ever, Natalie Dormer and David Oakes, and meet them at stage door after. Dormer and Oakes' had electrifying chemistry onstage and it was the best performance I've ever seen from Dormer. You can read my whole review here.

The Woman in White is certainly my best discovery of 2017. Similarly, the Wilkie Collins novel it's based on is my favorite book that I read in 2017! I love Andrew Lloyd Webber's work and this easily became my favorite of his shows. The themes of sisterhood and women standing up for themselves are incredibly timely. The show is also dear to my heart because it was the first casting that was announced after I found out that I was moving to London and realized that I would get to see it. Carolyn Maitland is simply stunning as Marian, Anna O'Byrne is such a thoughtful and beautiful Laura, and Ashley Stillburn is the perfect Walter Hartwright (now my favorite male character in all of literature). I'm having to stop myself because I want to praise every single member of the cast for how splendid they are. I can't wait to get back to London and see this show again. You can read my full review of it here.

I also have to give special mentions to the UK tour of Addams Family which I ventured out to Milton Keynes to see and The Ferryman which is incredibly powerful and a masterclass in acting.

What were your favorite shows that you saw in 2017? Let me know in the comments. x

2017 in Review

It's kind of sad to think how hopeful we were that 2017 would be better than 2016 last January. I have to say that as much as 2017 was an international disaster in many ways, it was an incredible and transforming, though challenging year for me personally. I quite enjoy looking back at my 2016 Year in Review so I thought I'd do a 2017 one.


I took January term off of classes to work on writing the bulk of my undergraduate thesis and went between between at Elon and at home. We got snow early in January and I spent an amazing few snow days with friends. 


February brought my last first day of (undergraduate) classes and a realization that my time at Elon was truly coming to an end. There were many festivities including Elon Ball and some amazing parties thrown by me and my friends. I also got to be an actor in a friend's class project and see the filmed version of Newsies


In March, for spring break my family went to New York City. We saw Killian Donnelly in Kinky Boots, the beautiful stunning cast of The Great Comet, and Alistair Brammer and Eva Noblezada in Miss Saigon. Seeing Great Comet truly changed my life and having Alistair recognize me at stage door was amazing. Back at Elon, I was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society alongside two of my roommates and we indulged in our normal shenanigans. 


April was a very research focused month. I finished my thesis after three and a half years of working on it and presented two different research projects at my school's undergraduate research day. I also traveled to Tennessee (for the first time!) to go to the National Conference of Undergraduate Research with many good friends -- and eat some amazing food in Memphis. 


May was an emotional whirlwind from start to finish. I had my last Elon Tonight premiere as Head of PR. Then it was time for graduation festivities and graduation itself; I was so blessed to have so many friends and family from all over the country come to see it. 

May was also a bit of a low month as I graduated with no job and a lot of anxiety. I actually had a bit of a breakdown the night before graduation because I felt like I'd made so many choices in undergrad that were wrong for me but Kimmy and Lauren fixed it with champagne and sparklers. 


In June, after seeing my sister graduate from middle school, I traveled to another new state (Texas!) to see one of my best friends from growing up, Zach, get married. It was the first wedding in our friend group and we had an amazing, but emotional time. After that my family took a trip to Universal and Disney World and we had the best time even if it was super hot. I even got to cuddle Chewbacca! 

July & August

In July, I returned to Florida to go to Disney World with friends and visit my friend Kimmy at her house. I spent most of July and August going between home and our new beach condo and spending much-needed time with my family. 


I ventured up to Connecticut to visit Andrew's family and then we spent a day and a half in Boston (that's two more new states!). I'd never been to New England before and was surprised at how much I loved it -- and got to spend time with Alex and Andrew together again. I also celebrated my 23rd birthday with my family.

Near the end of September, I packed up my life and flew to London with my parents who got me settled into my new apartment. My mom and I also got to see Tom Hiddleston as Hamlet at the RADA before they left. I met Corinne for the first time, saw my first few West End shows of the year, started my Master's, and went to the Theatre Café! 


October was a month of a lot of theatre (oh yeah, and class too). I went out to Milton Keynes to see The Addams Family tour with Carrie Hope Fletcher, saw Venus in Fur several times, went to Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe with Corinne twice, and saw the anniversary production of Les Mis with Killian Donnelly as Jean Valjean. I also bought my membership to Historic Royal Palaces with some of my birthday money, started writing for BroadwayWorld UK, and got hired as a volunteer at the Charles Dickens Museum. 


In November, I went to my first awards show and saw Venus in Fur and met Natalie Dormer again. I also took a trip out to Brighton and relived my summer there (and bought a membership to the Royal Pavilion). I read The Woman in White, my favorite novel of the year, and attended the show's first preview -- my first ever opening! 


December was crazy busy as well. In between working on essays and wrapping up things for BroadwayWorld, I attended an amazing event at Kensington Palace about the making of the TV show Victoria. I got to help interview Anna O'Byrne and go to the Christmasaurus press event for BWW (and met my favorite author Giovanna Fletcher!). 

I also had the most amazing time at the Barricade Boys Christmas concert with Corinne, featuring special guest Killian Donnelly (if you couldn't tell, he's my favorite actor). After that, it was home for the holidays and I was reunited with my family and celebrated an amazing Christmas. 

What were the highlights of 2017? Let me know in the comments below. x

My 2018 Goals & Resolutions

I meant for this post to go up several days ago but unfortunately, I've spent the first few days of 2018 stuck in bed very ill and unable to do much. Now that I'm on the mend, I want to share my ten goals for 2018 with you all!

Last year I decided to set 17 goals instead of setting resolutions. I prefer to have goals because they seem to be more achievable and less open ended -- for example, "go to an exercise class" or "work out twice a week for a month" instead of the vague hard-to-achieve "be more healthy" or "get fit." I only finished 10 of my 2017 goals (which I'm still very proud of), so I thought that I would stick to setting 10 for this year.

One: Go to an exercise class.
This was one of my goals for 2017 that I never actually achieved. I have free classes with my gym membership and it's just around the corner from my apartment so I really have no excuse.

Two: Read 25 books.
I've decided to increase my reading goal from twenty to twenty-five books this year. I have been getting through a lot more books due to the amount of time that I spend reading on public transport and at my volunteer museum shifts. I thought about going up to thirty, but I'm planning on reading War and Peace and it feels like that ought to count for five books.

Three: Learn to use my DSLR.
I got a lovely DSLR camera from my parents for Christmas so expect upgraded photos and videos soon! I definitely need to learn to use it properly because it's been a while since I've really played around with a fancy camera.

Four: Visit 3 new historic sites.
I visited several new historic sites in and around London this fall, in addition to returning to some old favorites. I want to explore some castles and smaller houses I've not been to before (accepting all recommendations!).

Five: Reach 350 subscribers on YouTube.
I'm not sure if this one is something that I can accomplish or not, but I'm trying to remain positive. I've been stuck around 235 subscribers for the past several months but I'm hoping that with better quality content from my new camera I might be able to break past that.

Six: Get a job after graduation.
I've managed to secure my dream internship for this spring (more on that in a life update coming soon to my YouTube channel!), but graduation already looms. I'll hand in my dissertation at the end of August and am doing to do my hardest to have a job soon after.

Seven: See 50 shows.
I saw twenty-nine shows this fall so I don't think fifty is an outrageous number to aim for, especially considering I see some shows for free to review them for BroadwayWorld UK. I'd love to continue seeing more plays because I've really been enjoying them even if I am more of a musical person.

Eight: Practice French or German at least two times a week.
Unfortunately because of my internship, I can't continue taking German classes. I'm hoping to hold myself to practicing my French or German twice a week when class is in so that I don't lose all my progress -- in either language!

Nine: Meet new people.
This one might sound a little funny, but I want to push myself more to make plans with people and meet new people. There have been several people in London (mainly other bloggers and YouTubers) that I've made abstract plans with but never actually met up with and I want to fix that in 2018 and make more friends in London, especially seeing as my best friend is moving back to Australia early in the year.

Ten: Be vegetarian/pescatarian for one week every month.
Being vegetarian is so much better for health reasons and for the environment (and financially!), but I don't think I can commit to being vegetarian full-time. Therefore, I'm going to try to go vegetarian (although I might have to let myself eat seafood) one week a month and see if that works. This is definitely the hardest goal for me as I'm a giant foodie, but hopefully it'll help my health...and my wallet!

What are your goals or resolutions for 2018? Let me know in the comments down below or tell me on Twitter! x
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