Show People Bailey MCLAughlin

Growing up it is easy to feel like you don’t belong. When you aren’t quite the smartest or most athletic it’s tough to find a place that accepts you for everything else you have to offer. Thankfully I had the blessing of attending a Broadway show when I was younger. I sat in the New Amsterdam theatre watching Mary Poppins fly over the audience, and then perform the most beautiful tap number with a company of dancers while they were singing their hearts out. I knew that I had to be a part of something just like that. I immediately got involved in theatre through camps and school and later I would attend countless class and workshops to work toward my passion. Performing gives me the ability to be anyone I want to be. I can be someone similar to me and work through some real-life experience through the character or I can be a completely different person and get to experience something so different from my life. The people themselves that participate in theatre are just some of the most caring people I have encountered. They accept everyone for their own weird selves which is something that is not too common. With this community of people, we are able to perform these beautiful stories for the people crazy enough to come and watch.

Me as the little red hen in my first show

Theatre is a place with a huge emphasis on community where everyone and their differences are celebrated. This theme is translated in to the stories that we tell that work to tell others important themes of things like love and friendship. Theatre works very similarly to the parables in the Bible that work to break down complicated stories and make them easier for people to understand. Theatre just uses a little more spectacle. A lot of Broadway musicals have taken to the Bible quite literally with shows such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar. But others address themes of love and helping others in a way that is a little subtler. Over the semester I cannot wait to combine my two passions of religion and theatre together and learn more about how the two are intertwined on Broadway today and have a chance to geek out.

you'll never guess who I am...

Bailey theTheatre geek

I absolutely love musicals. I can geek out about them legitimately all of the time. (Seriously just ask anyone who even vaguely knows me). Above is a picture of my high school's performance of Shrek the musical, where I was featured as Humpty Dumpty. Shrek meant so much to me as a show because it is where I finally felt like I clicked in high school, not to mentioned the songs are fantastic. I think the story meant so much because it showed a princess who wasn't afraid to be loud and speak her mind which is something I'm quite good at. For me theatre helps me to find myself and connect to others. I was recently watching a TED talk that talked about the importance of connecting with others in not such a superficial way. It is easy to get up on stage and perform but what's hard is connecting with yourself and with the audience to deliver a genuine performance. That authenticity is also developed through the process of putting on a show and relying on your cast and crew that you have each others back for each missed cue or dropped line. So basically theatre works as an important platform where actors can connect with their cast, the audience members can connect with each other and the two can come together.

I'm sure these pictures don't mean anything to you but in 8th grade they were my heroes. This is what I mean by the actors connecting with the audience!!!


Okay before we can even hop into musical theatre itself can we just start with breaking it down into its simplest parts. Singing, dancing, and acting. To be perfect at all three is called a triple threat which is what is needed to get anywhere in theatre. Out of all three I probably weakest in dance and strongest in singing. Mostly because I have been trained for 9 years. But its really not until these past 2 years that I have become confident in my singing. Through a mix of being a cantor for church choir and messing around with songs with my friend I really think I have become more confident in my abilities. Trust me I am so far from "perfect," or even "pretty good". I'm settling for a nice "not bad." (But not to brag Father Pilarz personally requested me to sing a special mass.) Any way when I was little I was always a soprano because no one thought I could do much and sopranos have the worst reputation for being dumb and not being able to sing anything besides the melody. But in high school I was trained as an alto which really felt so cool to add in harmonies and add in this beautiful dimension to the music. Though since I was an alto for so long no one thought I could sing high until I played an opera singer senior year. casually. Anyway here at good old Scranny I am a solid Soprano 1. And in fact today I just sang through a lot of Phantom of the Opera and singing those high notes with such a rich sound was just so much fun. My friends had only thought I could play a Meg, (the alto supporting character with 16 bars of a solo) but singing through a handful of songs just made me so excited the fact that I have trained so long and can actually sing such an iconic role.

So just some thoughts on singing which I absolutely love to do. Also this is me as that opera singer. Flattering right?
Warning: I'm the type of theatre kid who when you say literally anything I can relate it to a song from Broadway.

Rent & Spike Lee

So in class today when we were talking about different movies Spike Lee came up a lot. And I could hear his name being sung in my head, and I realized he has come up in a Broadway show before. In Rent the musical, (which I promise relates well to the lesson in class, more on that later) there is a scene where two potential love interests meet while bonding over AIDs and drugs, obviously a typical love story. Mimi is trying to get Roger to light a candle for her because she figures he's the hot neighbor upstairs he must have a match. Turns out her hunch was right and Rodger gave her a match to light the candle. But since Rodger is the hot neighbor upstairs she blows out the candle to spend more time talking to him. It is then revealed Rodger eventually gives Mimi his last match. Instead of being a Debbie downer, Mimi looks to the moon to be grateful for at least a little light. Roger, being the broody has been rockstar he is says "Maybe it's not the moon at all. I hear Spike Lee's shooting down the street."

This line already existed in the musical written in 1996. Nine years later the film was turned into a movie and the director was almost Spike Lee himself, but the job ended up going to Christopher Columbus. So it is a fun little Easter egg for fans that was unintentional at the time it was written.

Also this video has me geeking out because the woman who is playing Mimi, Renee Elise Goldsberry, is the original Angelica Schuyler from Hamilton. And at one point the three Schuyler sisters who were on Broadway had all played Mimi at some point in their careers!

Below is a clip of the Schuyler sisters, Goldsberry is in blue. Even from her first note in the song you can hear her talent. Surprisingly at first she didn't audition for Hamilton but wanted to invest in it because she didn't think she would make it. Cut to her originating this brilliant role in a revolutionary show.

If you are still confused on what the heck Rent is, I'm sure you have probably heard this song. (There is a little surprise in this video if you skip to the middle to 1:28)

But Rent also came to mind in class today because we were talking about how art is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable. That is exactly what Rent does. Rent talks about AIDs at the turn of the century, something not discussed very much especially not a Broadway stage. Until Johnathan Larson (the writer) came along. He incorporated so many taboos including drag, gay and lesbian couples, gentrification, an actual diverse group of people on stage, as well as "people living with, living with, living with, not dying from disease." There is even a number specifically targeting their straitlaced old friend making him feel uncomfortable mentioning the realities of their lives.

If you have a chance to listen to this song, do it. It's fantastic. Larson incorporates so many concepts into one amazing song, I could go into such an analysis on it, but alas I will not. Basically this show broke down a lot of things that were never discussed on broadway that are now embraced in that community. Even the main charity of Broadway is Equity fights AIDs. (They do an amazing job fundraising, check it out) But this show is really the first time that I was exposed to such a wide variety of concepts that were foreign to me in my sheltered life in a town of 1800.

My Two Show day

Another day, another show!

So I am so super blessed to live close to New York and have the ability to go see shows pretty regularly. Over break I was surprised with tickets to see Anastasia before it closes at the end of the month. And on accident I made it a two show day meeting up with some friends from Scranton and buying rush seats which just so happened to be second row orchestra!!!!!

My mom and I have been seeing shows together since forever. Forever being seventh grade. We make mother daughter days of going to the city just to see shows and it truly is my favorite time. Before I came along both my parents knew nothing about theatre, they maybe went to a show at their high school (my dad went to school with a dude in the NFL and he was Danny in Grease). But besides that, theatre wasn't their jam. But ever since I fell in love, they have supported me so very much and I couldn't be more grateful. They come to every show I'm in no matter what, most of the time even every performance. And my mom is really improving with her Broadway trivia- she'll throw a song lyric or two out there once in a while.

Seriously my parents are saints. Look me in the eye and tell me this show actually looks enjoyable.

Side note!

Just started listening to Mean Girls the musical and let me tell you I'm in love. I got immediate chills from just the first few bars. Be prepared for some geeking out coming up.

I just love a new musical. Truly nothing compares to falling in love with a new group of people and following their journey on stage. When I first listened to Mean Girls there was something so special in the music, I started picking it up right away and just got more excited each time a new song came on. While I love singing Cady's parts I could never play her because she is a crazy math girlie and I am not. Fun fact though I did play a math prodigy in a show where I had to memorize a handful of calculus equations to rattle off like I knew what I was saying. But one of my favorite characters has to be Damion. He sings a song called " Where Do You Belong?" which is where he recreates the iconic scene of the movie where him and Janet show Cady around the lunchroom explaining all of the cliques. The number was just the most perfect fit. It has such a classic musical theatre feel, complete with a full show choir and a tap number. There is even a nod to Funny Girl with the line "It takes all kind of people who need people". Get it? no. Just me? cool. Anyway for such a modern musical it really hits all the major points of a musical.

Quick Theatre lesson!

So there are different types of songs:

There are the typical ballad (love song), comedy numbers (I'm usually cast in these roles), charm songs (where the character tries to win over the audience), and musical numbers (dialogue and song are blended with multiple characters). Sometimes these can be called Showstoppers. They make sense in the show but they get the audience excited about the show and really just full of love for musical theatre.

But then there is also a more traditional breakdown

The I am song which explain a character(s) and their situation.

The I want song where the character shares with the audience what they want and desire most.

And new songs which is a song that doesn’t fit in either category. For example it could be used to break up the storyline of a more tragic story.

BUT this wasn’t always the case. In early theatre history musicals tried to include popular songs from the time into the story (Like a jukebox musical where the songs don’t drive the storyline). Surprisingly it wasn’t really until Rodgers and Hammerstein came along that the modern definition of a musical really came along. The modern musical uses the lines, songs and dance to drive the plot forward. Where before Rodgers and Hammerstein the plot stopped and was interrupted by an unrelated song or dance. Just for reference of shows by Rodgers and Hammerstein so you’re not completely lost, they include Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, Carousel, South Pacific, and The King and I.

Anyway not only are the songs themselves important, but the placement is super important as well.

The placement usually goes as follows... (The most iconic examples are included in links)

The Opening Number: this sets the scene for the entire show, and introduces you to all of the characters and their journey for the show.

The Main “I Want” Song: remember we mentioned this before! It usually happens in the beginning of act one where they share their motivating desire. Most of the time it quite literally uses the words “I want” or “I wish”.

The Eleven O’clock Number: traditionally named after the time it was performed, now it usually happens at about 10:00. This number is truly show-stopping where the main character comes to a significant realization.

The Finale: This ties up all loose ends and is usually emotional and powerful. Sometimes it is in an exciting “Yeah! Lets go change the world!” But a good amount of the time there is a solid reprise of a previous song that really gets the audience in the feels. People usually die.

Anyway basically Mean Girls follows this so very well and I'm just a huge nerd :)

Costume Design

Back to real life!!!! That's my Liva family!

So this past weekend I got to debut my costumes for a photoshoot for the Liva show! I cannot even begin to describe how exciting it was to see everyone actually wearing everything we made. It was so fun because I sewed a bunch of the costumes with my grandma (I have the link below to the instagram takeover).

I've always been fascinated with costumes and I absolutely love that aspect of theatre, it really just adds so much. It is so rewarding because it is such a tangible job, so I can really see all of the details in each costume. But the job does not seem as daunting until you're knee deep in costumes all over your floor. (See exhibit A below)

it's not as glamours as you'd think.

Anyway here is a sneak peek at the costumes for the show next week!

So the show was really a success!! The costumes ended up being so vibrant and so much fun. Heres a little look at how it turned out. I truly had so much fun on the creative team side of the show and I can't wait to start planning for the next show.

But doing the costumes for this show has really made me more in tune to the costumes in other shows and movies. I already knew the power that a costume has on an actor based on personal experience. Once you fun a show in full costume it's easier to get into character and relate to them as someone different than who you are.

Though since I did the creation/ creative side of things, now I'm a lot more observant of how a costume can make you feel about a character. The creative side put me not in the mind of the actor but in the audience. I love the 3D dynamic idea of costumes and being able to see the cast in the tangible version of my work was just so rewarding.

Accessibility on Broadway

As much as I love theatre the big flaw with it is it's level of accessibility. The American Disability Act or ADA was put into place in 1990 and prevents discrimination against individuals who have different disabilities. So mainly you see this through handicapped entrances with ramps and automatic doors but it also includes employments and housing accommodations. While accessibility still has a long way to go the ADA really moved things along.

But the main problem is that most, if not all Broadway theaters were built prior to this so they are not required to comply. Due to this many theaters do not have elevators to reach the mezzanine and balcony and the only water fountain is up a flight of stairs. This poses a problem for audience members who do require accommodations. Like in class in the movie we are watching, the man who uses the wheelchair my be able to afford the expensive tickets on the orchestra level, but cheaper tickets are usually higher up which then makes going to see a show even more expensive.

There are resources available for people who need special accusations. TheatreAccessNYC.com (link below) has resources for all sorts of things like, wheelchair accessibility, sign language accessibility, autism friendly, hearing devices, audio description as well as open and closed captioning.

Though this is a fantastic resource for audience members, there is still a big disconnect with performers. The first actress who uses a wheelchair to perform on Broadway made her debut in 2015, in the Deaf West's 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. This show as a whole was a huge deal because performers who were both Deaf and hearing performed together on stage and all signed the whole show.

Ali Stroker was the first actress who uses a wheelchair to perform on Broadway, and she is such and inspiration.

When she was two years old Ali Stroker was involved in a major car accident which left her with a major spinal cord injury causing her to be paralyzed from the chest down. No matter what stood in her way Stroker’s passion always lied in theatre, more specifically musical theatre. Throughout her childhood she was a part of many shows and even participated in the Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory at Papermill Play House. She set out to be a role model for girls in wheelchairs on Broadway, as no one else had ever done that before. She stuck to her dream and became the first person to graduate from the prestigious Tisch Drama Department at NYU. After graduating she had a few notable performances at well-regarded theatres as well as roles on popular TV shows like GLEE before landing a part of Broadway in the Deaf West’s 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. Her website (http://www.alistroker.com) writes that since then, she has been involved with groups such as WOMEN WHO CARE supporting United Cerebral Palsy of NYC by serving as the co-chair, in addition to helping to found BE MORE HEROIC, a national anti-bullying campaign.

I think Ali Stroker’s story is amazing because being on Broadway and being cast is hard enough, but Stroker has been cast in shows and roles that do not even necessarily call for a character in a wheelchair. Dance auditions would seem impossible in her case, but Stroker says she goes in confidently and just adapts the dances to moves she can do. Now her moves are not just marking the movements of the choreographer, Stroker turns it into true dance, drawing from experience with through her group Walk and Roll Wheelchair Dance Team. I really admired the fact that she did not let this obstacle rule her entire life, rather she made the best of it saying, “my wheelchair has opened doors and that the doors it has closed were not the doors I was supposed to open” (Gambino). Her dedication pushes me to not only be a better performer but also to work hard as an occupational therapist so I can help people like Stroker recover and get back to their most meaningful occupations.

Theatre at Scranton

This year has been a really great one especially in my little world of theatre and singing here at the U. While I am pretty comfortable on stage, only singing for people is where I get very nervous. Being on stage is fun because you can really be anyone you want to be. And let me tell you as soon as you ask me to go big on stage, I go for it. If you skip to any part in this adorable highlight reel my mom made from Jospeh you will see me looking like a crazy person.

But besides that the University really has given me such a wonderful opportunity to express my love for theatre! Part of the reason I came here was because of Liva, the musical theatre club. I fell in love with the people and the real sense of community that was present. Theatre just brings people together and I'm so blessed to have found a group that really is just so passionate about theatre. And I am even more grateful that I get to be President this upcoming year!!! We're just a huge group of weirdos and that is why I am so grateful to have a creative outlet like theatre that accepts people for who they are.

While I could go on and on about accepting others, theatre is also very cutthroat at the same time. The show itself is a blast and a half, but getting there is a whole other story. The initial audition and callbacks are the most nerve wracking times of the production. I took a whole 6 month class at Rutgers on basically the art of auditioning. It doesn't matter how good you are if you cannot hold your own in an audition and get the director to buy into what you're selling. So much more goes into an audition that you would initially think, you should see how intense my audition binder is. The audition starts from the moment you walk in and if you don't sell them with your slate (introduction) then it's over. There are plenty of songs that poke fun at the audition process. Climbing Uphill from The Last Five Years follows an actress into her audition while she sings her thought process through the whole thing. And the more famous musical A Chorus Line, you know sparkly gold top hats and kick lines, follows the actors through the entire audition process through the whole show.

Due to this process a lot of times I end up really lacking confidence when I sing. I like to be able to cover up any mistakes with funny faces or silly actions to distract people if my voice isn't 100%. So that is why I never really sing serious songs because I can't hide behind a character. But my one friend really enjoys singing just to sing so we've been doing songs together and I'm really feeling more confident. The more I sing with him the more comfortable I am with my voice. I never really post anything of me singing (I snuck one in earlier but I knew no one would really listen to it). But I have a super soprano song that I included, feel free to listen to it or not. You're not missing much.

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