Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spiderman Homecoming

(WARNING: There are minor and major spoilers about Spider-man: Homecoming in this blog post!)

Spider-man is one of my favorite superheroes. My appreciation for Marvel movies formed between 2006 and 2007. X-men and Spider were my official introduction to Marvel universe. Marvel Studios gave licensing film rights of Spider-man to Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures, in early 2000s. But Spider-man was not technically part of the official Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) until Captain America: Civil War in 2016. Spider-man: Homecoming is the first collaboration between Marvel Studios and Columbia Pictures. Sony Pictures will still own, finance, distribute, and exercise creative control over Spider-man films. Yet, Marvel Studios now has opportunity to include other characters from MCU in upcoming Spider-man films. In fact, Marvel had been wanting to add Spider-man’s character to the MCU since 2014.

Three is the magical number for Marvel trilogies. So the new reboot of the Spider-man movie franchise will have a total of three films. Plus, Spider-man will likely make cameo appearances in future MCU films.

Spider-Man_3,_International_PosterAround the time I discovered Spider-man franchise, Tobey Maguire was the actor portraying Peter Parker/Spider-man. I remember the exact date too. May 13, 2007. I decided to watch Spider-man 3 on random whim on Mother’s Day. Nine days after its theatrical release. Despite missing many references about previous films, I understood it enough to form an appreciation for the character of Spider-man. It wasn’t until watching Spider-man and Spider-man 2 that I truly formed a bias for this character. Peter Parker is one of the most relatable characters in Marvel universe. Unfortunately, Spider-man 3 was overall poorly reviews by critics and fans in general. But I refuse to let disgruntled critics and fans influence how I feel about a film. I’ll form my own opinion even it goes against what majority says about it. I’m part of the very small minority who actually enjoyed Spider-3. As a whole, it was a good sequel even with its considerably darker cinematic tone.

I cannot tolerate the second reboot of Spider-man movie franchise. Andrew Garfield is a good actor, but I don’t feel he did this role justice. I legit struggled to get through The Amazing Spider-man movies. The casting for the main cast in this reboot was the main reason I was unable to connect with it. It didn’t feel right to me. I don’t like to acknowledge the existence of this second reboot. That’s all I’ll say about The Amazing Spider-man reboot.

With each reboot, the character of Peter Parker gets younger and younger. From latter high school/early college age to early high school age. This made me a bit skeptical.

Marvel Studios announced yet another reboot of Spider-man franchise in February 2015. The third reboot. As the phrase goes, third time is a charm. Tom Holland was cast as the new Peter Parker. Honestly, I was skeptical. Tobey Maguire will always be MY Spider-man. He really did justice to this role. Yet, I was going to be open-minded and wait until official trailers for Spider-man: Homecoming came out. Tom Holland technically already made his first appearance as Spider-man in Captain America: Civil War. I was intrigued but not entirely sure how I felt about his portrayal of Peter Parker yet. The new redesigned Spider-man suit hadn’t grown on me yet. Only time would tell if I was actually going to check out Spider-man: Homecoming in theaters.

Spiderman Homecoming_2On various marketing platforms, Marvel starts heavily promoting its films one to two months before its release date. You’ll see plenty of TV trailer spots played during primetime hours on TV channels. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming at times. I don’t recall seeing too many Spider-man: Homecoming TV trailer spots.

On June 5th, my friend, Alyssa, texted me to inquire if I wanted to join her seeing the movie on opening day. I was still on the fence about Tom Holland. She wanted to see IMAX 3D format which is almost $15 with taxes. Luckily, I had a AMC Theatre gift card so it would be basically free. So why not? Plus, IMAX 3D format has clearer image and sound quality. I was game. I was going to approach this Spider-man reboot with an open-mind.

To date, I have seen Spider-man: Homecoming twice in theaters in IMAX 3D format. That is how much I’ve enjoyed it. Sony Pictures decided to do away with incorporating the origin story of Peter Parker. It assumes the audience knows he was bitten by a radioactive spider which gave his extraordinary abilities. Also, it doesn’t drudge up Peter’s painful past of losing his Uncle Ben. This reboot features the younger version of Aunt May. Spider-man: Homecoming is a breath of fresh air for this beloved superhero franchise!

The movie picks up two months after Captain America: Civil War events. Peter is very optimistic that Tony will keep in him in the fold about any upcoming Avenger missions. No updates. Tony Stark even tells Peter he isn’t ready to become a full Avenger yet. So, he resumes his “normal” life. He quit almost all his extra-curriculum clubs to focus on being Queen’s friendly neighborhood Spider-man. Peter Parker struggles to find a balance between being the friendly neighborhood Spider-man and a “normal” high school student at Midtown School of Science and Technology.

Tony Stark makes many cameos throughout Spider-man: Homecoming. He personally recruited Peter Parker to join him to fight in Captain America: Civil War. Afterwards, Tony continues to maintain a mentor/mentee relationship with young Peter. Tony Stark is a father figure in a way to Peter as well.

Being a mentor and father figure, this is very unfamiliar territory. Peter decides to play in the big leagues by fighting against dangerous criminals. Tony soon realizes Peter needs some guidance and direction as he grows into his role as a superhero. On some occasions, he must harshly reprimand Peter for his reckless behavior. Peter is a young kid who is still growing into his new powers. The Staten Island Ferry situation was the last straw for Tony. He takes the Spider-man suit back. If Peter is nothing without it then he shouldn’t have the multimillion dollar suit at all. Tony wants to reinforce “with great powers come great responsibility” philosophy. In the Iron Man movies, Tony himself struggled with the conundrum of whether the suit makes the man or the man makes the suit. Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr. brilliantly portrayed the dynamic relationship between Peter Parker and Tony Stark.

Vulture is the featured villain in the film. It was initially hard to gauge this character based off the official trailers and TV spots. I was worried Vulture being a predictable villain. Wow how wrong I was. In a flashback scene, the opening scene establishes the backstory for Adrian Toomes aka Vulture. Adrian and his salvage crew were contracted to clean up the mess Loki and his Chitauri army wrecked on New York City in The Avengers. Tony Stark’s Department of Damage Control (DODC) take over the operations ultimately putting Toomes out business. He refused to hand over one small loot of Chitauri wreckage. A lightbulb went off. Adrian could continue business by making advanced weaponry using the Chitauri parts. Eight years later, Adrian and his crew become successful black market arms dealers in high-tech weapons to the highest bidder. They formed a profitable niche market. Vulture is multi-faceted character. Everything he does is to take care of his wife and daughter. Plus, he is tired of how rich people don’t care about the well-being of the “little people”. So, Adrian decided to turn the tables. Vulture isn’t a typical MCU villain.

I had no idea how Spider-man would come across the Vulture and his crew. This aspect of plot was fleshed out in different stages. It kept the audience on their toes. I totally wasn’t expecting the plot twist of Adrian Toomes being Liz’s father. Peter is put in a tricky situation. He has opportunity take his love interest, Liz, to the Homecoming dance. Yet, he cannot ignore how Vulture and his crew dangerous weapons are a danger to society. Peter ditches the Homecoming dance to ensure Vulture doesn’t get his hands on any weapons being transported on DODC carrier in route to new Avengers headquarters in upstate New York. Spider-man and Vulture engage in intense fighting sequences on the DODC carrier and on a beach near Coney Island. Peter Parker must combat his enemy in his homemade Spider-man costume. This puts him a slight disadvantage. Despite being battered and bruised, Peter keeps going until he has defeated the Vulture. No matter his feelings about Adrian’s criminal behavior, Peter makes sure Liz’s father is still alive in the end even when his flying apparatus becomes unstable and explodes. Spider-man: Homecoming beautifully explores the complex nature of humanity in the relationship between Spider-man and Vulture.

Spiderman Homecoming_3

Within the first hour, you learn more about Peter Parker and the environment of Midtown Science and Technology. This is no ordinary high school. Nope. Only very smart students attend this high school. It’s quite evident Peter Parker isn’t a social butterfly at his high school. He mainly hangs out with his best friend, Ned. Occasionally, Peter interacts with members of his school’s academic decathlon. He mostly keeps to himself. There are only two people he is very close with. Aunt May and Ned.

Spider-man: Homecoming explores the theme of Peter learning the struggles of being a teenage superhero. No adult will take him seriously including his mentor, Tony Stark, and Happy Hogan. Let alone give him opportunity to take on a bigger role to fulfill his superhero destiny. Tony Stark even included “training wheel protocol” code to prevent Peter from having access to his suit’s advanced features. Peter expresses his frustration on being treated like a kid often throughout the film. Yet, Peter’s foreshadowed warnings is only seriously considered after Hogan realizes the DODC transport carrier is in imminent danger. At least Peter had his trusty best friend, Ned, by his side.

From start to finish, Michelle aka MJ played by Zendaya has a very low-key role in the movie’s plot. This character occasionally appears in some scenes saying no more than a few lines. Yet, her dialogue usually provided moments of unintentional comedy. Spider-man: Homecoming wanted to downplay Michelle’s role in the first movie of the Spider-man reboot.  I’m curious how they’ll develop the romantic relationship between Peter and Michelle in the sequels. Now they’re mere acquaintances who happen to be in similar social circles.

Compared to previous Spider-man films, the third reboot took a different approach to Eugene “Flash” Thompson’s character. Flash, the star high school football player,  mercilessly bullies Peter Parker. Flash Thompson is a physically abusive bully in the previous two Spider-man reboots. Spider-man: Homecoming depicts this characters more as an emotionally abusive bully. The verbal bullying consists of relentlessly cruel taunts. The new reboot didn’t want to copy some elements of the previous Spider-man movie franchises.

Being part of MCU, we saw some familiar faces. Tony Stark, Aunt May, Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts. But I loved how the many of the major and minor characters were unfamiliar faces in the MCU. I’m sure Ned and Michelle will be playing larger roles in the sequels. Plus, the cast ensemble was diverse. It’s hard to find diversity in superhero genre films.

Spiderman Homecoming_1Spider-man: Homecoming struck a good balance of light-hearted, comedic, and serious tones in the dialogue amongst the characters. I really enjoyed the exchanges between Peter Parker and Karen, the artificial intelligence in Spider-man’s suit. Most Marvel Cinematic Universe movies tend to be slightly more serious in tone with small injections of dark humor. That’s why the new Spider-man reboot is a breath of fresh air for MCU. The light-hearted and comedic moments didn’t feel forced or awkward at all.

Most of all, Tom Holland vastly impressed me with his portrayal of Peter Parker/Spider-man. After his cameo in Captain America: Civil War, I was still skeptical about the Spider-man reboot. He definitely won me over in Spider-man: Homecoming. I will always love Tobey Maguire. Yet, Tom Holland brilliantly portrays the aspects of Peter Parker and Spider-man. His facial expressions beautifully conveyed emotion even when there was no dialogue in the scene. Plus, he had great chemistry with the cast ensemble. This made the on-screen interactions more believable too. Overall, he did justice to this iconic role.

I look forward the upcoming Spider-man reboot sequels. Plus, Peter Parker/Spider-man will be featured in three other MCU films including Avengers: Infinity Wars. Spanning many generations, Spider-man continues to capture the hearts of audiences.

I’ll leave you with the hilariously awesome Lip Sync Battle between Tom Holland and Zendaya. Once you’ve seen it, it cannot be unseen. This actually made me appreciate Tom Holland even more.

 

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Firefly Festival 2017

Concerts are highly enjoyable experiences. It’s one of my many recreational hobbies. I love listening music like everyone else. But we all have our favorite artists/bands we’d love to see live in concert someday. I’ve gone to my fair share of Christian and secular artist/band concerts.

In July 2009, I attended my first secular concert. mtvU Sunblock music festival. The co-headliners were Boys Like Girls and Gym Class Heroes with supporting acts of The Academy Is, The Veronicas, and Never Shout Never. I paid somewhere between $25-$30 for my ticket. That’s ridiculously cheap for a music festival! In preparation for Sunblock music festival, I formed an appreciation for Boys Like Girls and The Academy Is. I’d been a fan of The Veronicas since 2006.

In general, there is only one music festival which I attended devoted three years back-to-back. Creation Festival Northeast in Mount Union, PA. I attended this four-day Christian music festival with my church youth group from 9th to 11th grade. I absolutely hate camping. Nature and I are not usually one with each other. But I made one exception for Creation Fest. The camping experience is not part of the fond memories of this music festival. Yet the opportunity to see my favorite Christian rock bands overshadowed the misery of camping. The summer of 2010 was the last time I attended Creation Fest.

Firefly Festival 2017 Lineup

Firefly Festival in Dover Woodlands was my first music festival in seven years! Also, it was my first secular music festival since mtvU’s Sunblock music festival. I had a day pass ticket for Sunday. I would have loved to see AFI and Franz Ferdinand on the main stage on Friday. Yet, I wasn’t going to pay another $109 for a General Admission day pass. It was more important I see Thirty Seconds to Mars and Muse on Sunday.

Musical festival requires lots of mental and physical preparation. I can deal with regular concerts as they’re no longer than 5 hours. But music festivals are an entirely different thing. You will be walking around music festival grounds for at least 7 hours if you want to get your money’s worth of the GA day pass. The best thing about music festivals how you can meander around the massive grounds and casually listen to other artists or bands on the non-main stages. You might just discover new artists or band that sparks your interest. Always approach music festivals with an open-mind. I’m aware people come to music festivals to see certain artists. But you’ll regret approaching such a music event with a narrow-minded attitude. Soak in the whole musical festival experience! It will certainly push you out of your comfort zone.

Firefly Festival 2017 MapFirefly Festival was held this year between June 15th to June 18th. I don’t like going to music festival alone. It isn’t as fun to be honest. One of my college friends, Kaitlyn, and I headed Firefly Festival on June 18, 2017 in Dover, Delaware.

It only took a little over 2 hours to arrive here. Festival goers walk 15-20 minutes from the parking lot at Dover International Speedway to get to Dover Woodlands area. You’re basically walking right on the highway that has been blocked off entirely for this music festival. The actual festival grounds cover approximately 105 acres of Dover Woodlands.

The wooded area surrounding most of this music festival venue provides lovely breeze throughout the humid day. Even if you were in the open area near the multiple stages. It’s essential you remain hydrated with enough water throughout the day at any music festival! Firefly festival had multiple water re-filling stations located throughout the Woodlands area.

Surprising, this music festival had a wide array of food stalls. Food will cost on average of $8 to $10 depending on the food vendor. All types of ethnic foods. Sweet and savory foods. You certainly didn’t have to worry about limited food selection here.

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My friend and I finally got to Firefly festival grounds around 12 noon. Thirty Seconds to Mars wasn’t performing on Firefly main stage until 6:45 pm. That’s almost 6 hours to kill before main stage performances. Walking from one end to the other, we explored the expansive festival grounds. So many fascinating nooks and food stands. Comfortable walking shoes are must for any music festival as you’ll do extensive amounts of walking throughout the day. I personally rather not sacrifice practicality just to look cute. I could care less. Sneakers are the best way to go for comfort. Walking around festival grounds, it was surprising how two or three hours fly by.

Kaitlyn and I ventured through the various stages. Firefly Festival has seven music stages. The Porch stage. The Lawn stage. The Backyard stage. The Treehouse stage. The Backyard stage. The Coffee House. The Pavilion. Firefly main stage.  Even the “smallest” stage is still sizable.

We did check out some of the lesser known artists before meandering back to main stage area. I really enjoyed the 888’s music. This alternative indie band from Denver performed on The Porch stage. During certain times of the day, you can even hear music coming from different stages at the same time. All vying for your attention.

I anticipated a huge crowd for Thirty Seconds to Mars who were performing on main stage at 6:45 pm. My prior music festival experience taught me many valuable lessons. Most of all, you must arrive one to two hours early to get a good spot within 20 feet of the main stage. In a previous blog post, I expressed that I’ve been longtime fan of Thirty Seconds to Mar’s music. So I finally fulfilled my dream of seeing them live in concert. It only took 8 years. There was no way I was getting a crappy spot for this concert at Firefly main stage. Luckily, my friend and I squeezed into a good viewing spot about 15 feet away from stage. There were no tall dudes blocking our view either. That’s 50/50 chance when you’re at any concert. When Thirty Seconds to Mars kicked off their setlist, there was a pretty sizable crowd behind us. I had no idea where it even ended. There was hardly one pace step of space around me. Over time, I’ve learned to deal with cramped space in a large crowd situation at concerts.

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One hour quickly turned into less than 30 minutes. My body was buzzing with excitement. When Thirty Seconds to Mars members walked on stage, I broke out in a huge grin. I almost cried tears of joy too. I’ve waited a long time for this dream to become a reality.

Thirty Seconds to Mars delivered an incredible setlist. There was a good balance of songs from their older and more recent albums. (Side note: Jared always plays one acoustic song during the set. I like the song “The Kill” but I would have preferred to hear “Hurricane” as the acoustic song.) Their setlist only consisted of 9 songs in total. Yet, they delivered energetic and dynamic 75 minutes set. Thirty Seconds to Mars performed on Firefly main stage from 6:45 to 8:00 pm.

Thirty Seconds to Mars Firefly Festival 2017 setlist

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Jared Leto wore an eccentric ensemble yet surprisingly pulled off this ensemble. He also provided entertaining commentary between the songs as well. In the earlier part of the set, Jared threw packaged popsicles into the crowd. It was so damn hot standing in that crowd. There’s truly never a dull moment with Thirty Seconds to Mars.

My friend and I had great views of the entire stage. I only had one slight annoyance about being 15-20 feet away from main stage. We were situated in the area where crowd surfers passed over us. You’ll always get the occasional crowd surfer at music festivals. But Jared definitely encouraged and instigated a higher influx of crowd surfers during their set. Dealing with back-to-back crowd surfers, my friend and I basically couldn’t enjoy the last song in Thirty Seconds to Mars’s set. Otherwise, I had an absolute blast during Thirty Second to Mars’s set on the main stage. It was everything I imagined it would be…and even more mind-blowingly incredible.

(Random note: Kaitlyn and I were leisurely having an early dinner around 4-ish pm. Suddenly there’s a loud sound a helicopter. We’re sitting in the vicinity near the entrance of the festival grounds. The helicopter circulates around this vicinity for almost 20 minutes. It descends to the ground then takes flight into the skies again. My friend and I thought it was possibly a local news channel filming a segment about Firefly Festival. Nope. I had forgot about this entirely until I checked my Snapchat stories within that hour. It turns out Thirty Seconds to Mars flew in to Firefly Festival via helicopter. They were in New York City the day before to fit in some time to work on recording songs for their upcoming fifth album. Thirty Seconds to Mars decided to make a grand entrance onto the woodland festival grounds. They’re so extra. It’s one of the many reasons I love those three adorkably awesome guys.)

After Thirty Seconds to Mars finished their set, Kaitlyn and I decided to take a water refill break for some fresh air. The air was so stuffy around us. Yet, it was worth being getting that close to main stage. Muse’s set would only start at 9:15 pm. We had still had a little over an hour before their set. This gave us the opportunity to meander around close to the main stage. I’d gotten the thrill of being less than 20 feet from main stage for Thirty Seconds to Mars. That was all I could handle for one day. We decided to stay close to main stage but not as close for Muse’s set. Muse would be playing on Firefly main stage from 9:15 to 10:45 pm. They were basically wrapping up Firefly Festival 2017.

In fact, it would be my second time to see Muse live in concert. Let’s rewind seven years back to May 2010. I saw them on The Resistance tour at First Mariner Bank Arena in Baltimore, MD. I knew they would blow away the Firefly Festival crowd with mind-blowing performances.

Thankfully the main stage has more than enough grassy areas. My friend and I needed to rest our feet before securing a good spot for Muse’s set. We weren’t going to stand for a whole hour again. The massive crowd from Thirty Seconds to Mars’s set had mostly dispersed to other parts of the festival grounds. Kaitlyn and I sat in the grassy area close the main stage. It wasn’t until 30-40 minutes before that we stood up to find a spot for Muse. Surprisingly we managed to get decent spots about 25 feet from the main stage. We weren’t going to deal with constant stream of crowd surfers again. In my opinion, crowd surfers just ruin the overall concert experience. Everything in moderation including crowd-surfing.

Muse walked onto the main stage on schedule at 9:15 pm. They delivered a kick-ass setlist consisting of 17 songs. A mixture of songs from older and more recent albums. Yet, there was slight emphasis on songs from their latest album. Drones album was released in June 2015. There was plenty of nostalgic throwbacks too. When you listen to their albums, you get an overall electronica hard rock vibe. Studio recorded versus live performance version of their songs are two entirely different things. Honestly, Muse’s live performances is way better than the studio recorded versions. I love when this is the case with my bias artist and bands.

Muse Firefly Festival 2017 setlist

I had no idea how many of the people in the massive crowd were actually Muse fans. Not including the obvious sign of people wearing Muse band merchandise. Muse not only delivered mind-blowingly performances. They kicked up the energy of the overall crowd to a whole new level. Even non-Muse fans were jamming out throughout their set. Kaitlyn and I managed to politely maneuver even closer to be 20-ish feet from the main stage. We still had a decent view of the stage. There were two large monitors in either side of the stage too. Muse had awesome pre-recorded special effects on the video of the band members projected onto the monitors throughout their performance. Sometimes, people are surprised by the overall loud volume level of Muse’s set when they see them live.

Thirty Seconds to Mars and Muse both have three band members. Yet, they know how utilize every square inch of gigantic stages. That’s proof of their explosive charisma. Plus, they aren’t known to play in small to medium size music venues. They usually come to bigger music venues that are nowhere close to me. That’s why I’m thankful to have seen them live in concert at least once.

There’s one main difference between Thirty Seconds to Mars’s set versus Muse’s set. Thirty Seconds to Mars lead singer, Jared Leto, is known to provide amusing commentary between songs. Muse lead singer, Matt Bellamy, barely speaks during the entire set. They have more songs in their setlist so the time is already very tight. Matt will tersely talk at most three times when Muse performs on stage. Every artist/band approach live performances in different ways.

Honestly, Jared Leto and Matt Bellamy are the full embodiment of the phrase “extra AF” in the most endearing way. Yet, their musical talent is very evident when they perform live. Jared is “extra AF” in terms of his eccentric wardrobe choices. Matt is “extra AF” in terms of extending each song in the setlist. Extraneous yet awesome guitar riffs at the end of each song. Thirty Second to Mars and Muse delivered spectacularly energetic performances. They know how to pump up the crowd even when it includes those who aren’t fans of their music.

Firefly Festival 2017 PosterOverall, I had a fantastic experience at Firefly Festival 2017. The biggest takeaway was it made my dream of seeing Thirty Seconds to Mars live finally come true.  Plus, I have enough items to remember my Firefly Festival experience. Sunday General Admission wristband.  Firefly Festival bandanna. Official Firefly Festival tee. Pictures of festival grounds area, Thirty Seconds to Mars’s set, and Muses’s set. Also, I’m glad I got share this experience with my college friend. Kaitlyn and I had a blast exploring the woodland festival grounds and listening to awesome live music. Dover Woodlands area is a great venue for this outdoor music festival.

Yet, Firefly Festival will be a one-time thing for me. Music festival are fun yet extremely exhausting. It’s mentally and physically draining to be outdoors in humid temperatures for 10-12 hours. My friend and I were so fatigued by the time we got back from Firefly Festival between 1 and 2 am. I’ll stick to my usual concerts.

 

Kinky Boots

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve visited New York City. There’s always something to do. Plenty of touristy attractions for all age groups. I’ve been to NYC at different times of busy tourist seasons. Summer and fall/winter seasons. The warmer seasons allows me to do more venturing around the city compared to colder season. All my NYC adventures are memorable in their own way. But my most recent trip is special for its own reason.

It isn’t often that my celebrity biases have taken time away from their TV/movie or music careers to take on Broadway. In general, Broadway doesn’t pay as much. The person must have a strong passion to pursue a Broadway musical project.

First Date Musical posterIn October 2013, Messiah College Student Activity Board (SAB) had a NYC Broadway excursion to see the off-Broadway musical First Date. I normally never went on any SAB excursion to NYC. This trip was sold out but our campus radio was giving away two tickets. I was lucky to win one of the two tickets. So why was I so keen on going? Zachary Levi from NBC’s Chuck joined the main cast ensemble of this off-Broadway musical. In fact, he was making his Broadway debut in First Date. I was obsessed with NBC’s Chuck. This action-comedy/ spy-drama TV show was nerdtastically bad-ass! This was my main motivation for attending this SAB NYC Broadway excursion. Thankfully colleges can get group rates when they plan Broadway trips. So, I was going to take advantage of this opportunity.

She Loves Me Musical posterIn March 2016, Zachary Levi returned to Broadway for She Loves Me revival musical. Last spring my local community college had a New York City day trip. Obviously, I had made another trip to New York City mainly to see this off-Broadway musical. I even had opportunity to meet Zachary Levi backstage after She Loves Me performance. He autographed the playbill and took a photo with me. First Date and She Loves Me musicals helped to form a deeper appreciation of him as an actor. Zachary Levi is a versatile actor.

Bend It Like Beckham musical poserIn June 2015, my family and I were travelling to London, England for vacation. I stumbled across some interesting information a few weeks before this trip. I’d been going through a Jamie Campbell Bower movie and TV show marathon during the last two months of my senior year of college. Jamie’s Wikipedia page mentioned he would be participating in London’s West End musical production of Bend It Like Beckham. This musical was based off the 2002 film. In fact, the film’s writer and director, Gurinder Chadha, penned the script for the stage musical as well. I’ve seen Bend It Like Beckham movie at least 15 times over the past decade. Thankfully, it didn’t take much convincing to convince my family to check out this West End musical while we were in London. Best of all, I had opportunity to meet Jamie Campbell Bower backstage after Bend It Like Beckham performance. He autographed the musical playbill and took a photo with me. I feel so lucky to have met some of my favorite celebrity biases.

Couple months ago, some exciting news regarding Panic! at the Disco popped up online and social media platforms. P!ATD’s frontman, Brendon Urie, would be making his Broadway debut in Kinky Boots musical. Of course, I had to find a way to make another trip to New York City to see it. I’ve been a longtime fan of Panic! at the Disco’s music over the past six years. Plus, I saw them in concert in August 2014 and September 2015. This Broadway musical had gotten great reviews. I had no doubt it will be a good musical.

Kinky Boots was my first  main street Broadway musical. First Date and She Loves Me are technically off-Broadway musicals. Brendon was my main motivation to see Kinky Boots musical. But I do really enjoy musicals in general.

The bus pulled into New York City around early afternoon. Thankfully, the hotel was nearby the Kinky Boots theater venue. I had time to meander around the city before the 8 o’clock evening performance. I specifically wore my new Panic! at the Disco tee for this performance.

Al Hirschfield Theatre is in midtown Manhattan. This theater is within close vicinity of other main street Broadway musical venues. Yet, the Al Hirschfield Theatre is a fairly small venue. The seating capacity is around 1,400 persons. My seat was very close to the stage. Orchestra section on the right side in the first section of seating. End of the second row. No joke my seat was right by the stage. I was right there where all the action was. No complaining about this incredible view of the stage. According to Ticketmaster, it says it is a partial view seat. Lies. I had a fantastic perspective of the whole stage!

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Kinky Boots posterKinky Boots musical revolves around the character, Charlie Price. He is a fourth generation son in his family’s shoe factory business. After his father’s untimely death, Charlie inherits the shoe factor which is near bankruptcy. Now he must find a way to save the family business. A creative business solution comes in the form of an unlikely partnership with cabaret performer and drag queen, Lola. He plans to reinvent Price and Son brand by producing a line of comfortable high-heel boots which can even withstand a man’s weight. Charlie and Lola’s unconventional business partnership helped them realize they aren’t so different after all. Kinky Boots officially debuted on Broadway on April 4, 2014. J.Harrison Ghee replaced Toderick Hall as Lola in March 2017. Brendon Urie replaced Killian Donnelly as Charlie Price in May 2017.

Cyndi Lauper wrote the music and lyrics for Kinky Boots. Many know Lauper because to her hit song “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”. In fact, Kinky Boots was her debut as musical theater songwriter. The song numbers in this musical have emphasis on father-son relationships but also has overarching themes of tolerance and self-acceptance.

Kinky Boots is an eccentric Broadway musical full of heart and soul. I definitely got feels during the performance. Laughter and tears. There’s a great balance in serious and comedic tones within the dialogue and songs. Honestly, I love all the songs in Kinky Boots. Mixture of infectiously catchy and pensive ballad numbers. They’re all incredible in their own ways. Although, some songs stand out for me. “Land of Lola”, “Sex is in the Heel”, “Not My Father’s Son”, “What A Woman Wants”, “Soul of a Man”, “Hold Me in your Heart”, and “Raise You Up/ Just Be”. You’ll be tapping your foot, clapping your hands, and dancing in your seat by the last song of the performance. I had a huge grin plastered on my face at the end of the performance.

Being his musical debut, Brendon did an amazing job as Charlie Price. He still has room to improve his acting skills. Nonetheless, he still brilliantly brought his character to life on the stage. It never ceases to amaze me how Brendon makes singing look so effortless. He is a lovable ball of energy and explosive charisma. On and off stage. He pulled off a decent British accent for this role too. (Side note: It was a bit odd seeing him in a buttoned-up shirt and khaki pants. I got so used to him wearing skinny jeans, casual tee, and leather jacket. For concerts, Brendon even wears bold colored suit ensemble. He is typically shirtless the last half of concert performances.)

The whole cast ensemble of Kinky Boots had phenomenal chemistry. Most of all, J. Harrison and Brendon worked so well together. It is essential the main roles have good chemistry. This can make or break a musical, movie, and TV show. J.Harrison Ghee vastly impressed me. His acting skills and mannerism make you quickly love the character of Lola. Lola and her troupe of drag queens (also referred to as “angels”) were my favorite characters in Kinky Boots musical.

I waited until the last bow from the cast ensemble before heading to the stage door. (Side note: It’s plain rude to leave before the last bow. You don’t have to be a seasoned Broadway musical attendee to know this fact. It’s assumed courtesy.) There was a massive crowd around the stage door in front of the Al Hirschfield Theatre. Not surprising at all. Most people were waiting for Brendon Urie. Brendon was my main motivation to see Kinky Boots. Yet, a success performance on a daily basis rests on the talent and harmony of the whole crew and cast ensemble. Based off the online comments on social media, this wasthe first Broadway musical for majority of Panic! at the Disco fans attending Kinky Boots performances. I love how celebrities can help expose their fan base to other entertainment forms. The group of P!ATD fans around me came from far away states and even Canada for Kinky Boots musical.

The crowd worked together to ensure people’s musical playbills got signed by the cast members who took time to interact with the awaiting fans. The noise level drastically increased when security announced Brendon was coming out soon. All the other crew and cast members had already left the theater. There was much demand for Brendon’s autograph. But I persisted and politely weaved through the now slowly dwindling crowd. Brendon did his best to sign all the playbill musicals shoved in his face. Plus, people were screaming for selfies with him. I managed to find a spot close enough to pass over my two Kinky Boots playbills for Brendon to easily reach it. Brendon signed both playbills! My heart exploded with joyous fangirl feels when I saw his signatures on them. Plus, a tall girl nearby me offered to take some overhead pictures of Brendon before he got into his car. The pictures turned out surprisingly good. I waited almost 1.5 hours but it was so worth the leg cramp from all the standing. I didn’t come that far only to give up. That’s the closest I’ll get to “meeting” Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie.

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img_1902Brendon Urie will be playing the role of Charlie Price in Kinky Boots Broadway musical until August 6, 2017. Thankfully, Brendon not his understudy was in the June 16th performance.  He was my main motivation to check out Kinky Boots musical. I’d highly recommend this Broadway musical. Yet I don’t recommend this musical for any children under 15. It’s a fun time. You won’t regret it. Kinky Boots’ overall message is to find your true potential. Become the person you want to be rather than the person others want you to be.

I’ll leave you with a clip of Kinky Boots cast performing “Everybody Say Yeah” musical number on the Tony Awards in 2013.