Archives for posts with tag: TONYS

The Fairy Princess was sitting around this morning, a weekend morning, kind of relaxing, and then she read about an email that was sent by Mary Cheney.

Mary Cheney

Mary Cheney

Mary is of the Richard (insanely evil Vice President of the United States who got us into a War over WMDs that did not exist and then sold the war to Halliburton, authorized torture and rich people not paying taxes and left us in billions of debt) aka “Dick” Cheney clan, and in that email, she compared “Blackface”

TFP hates this photo with a passion, but it is Al Jolson, who was famous for his Blackface performances, apologies

TFP hates this photo with a passion, but it is Al Jolson, who was famous for his Blackface performances, apologies

To Drag:

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What say you my Queens?

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Mary Cheney posted her queries on her private Facebook page, a page which, of course, is meant to be just that – private. The first order of business, Ms. Cheney, would be, in TFP‘s opinion, is shut down your Facebook page – cuz you do NOT have a private Facebook page, or indeed any ‘safe’ place to write this:

“Why is it socially acceptable – as a form of entertainment – for men to put on dresses, makeup and high heels and act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc) – but it is not socially acceptable – as a form of entertainment  – for a white person to put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African Americans” – Mary Cheney

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Usually, TFP stays out of politics, per se. She blogs about representation and visibility – however, she also blogs about LGBT issues as a huge supporter of the LGBT community, and she, in point of fact, was ‘raised’ as an adult by the LGBT community and so she is going to respond to this, and hope that Ms. Cheney, (who lives a life of exceeding white privilege while also being an “Out” Lesbian who has given birth to two children), was perhaps, just perhaps, was really asking.

It is totally possible.

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Yes, really.

She could ‘really’ not know, because perhaps, in the circle she runs with, there is a decided lack of empathy and knowledge about what Drag Queens mean to the LGBT community, and about the LGBT community in general – take a look:

GAY MARRIAGE OPPONENT HOLDS SIGN IN PROTEST OUTSIDE STATEHOUSE

Mary Cheney is a Republican, after all.

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Ms. Cheney could have equally less knowledge about what constitutes “Blackface’ because, as a practice, it was generally ended in this country two decades ago, and to TFP’s knowledge, has only been used again once in a main stage, Broadway production, and that was The Scottsboro Boys.

 

A show, Ms. Cheney, which was about racism. In 1931.  A show about racism towards black teenagers who are unjustly accused of a crime and most of them wound up dead.

Image by Banksy

Image by Banksy

But anyway, that show takes place in 1931. Ms. Cheney probably did not go see it.

So now, Ms. Cheney, TFP is going to ‘school’ you in what makes “Blackface” different from “Drag” and in one sentence it is this:

Blackface was used to denigrate, and Drag is used to celebrate.

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Blackface, Ms. Cheney, was a socio-political tool wrapped in popular songs and comedy sketches that was used to justify white supremacy – it implied that Black Americans were slow, dull witted, unable in some sketches to read, and all in all, they were ‘creatures’ (not humans) to be laughed at.

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If you never see someone as an actual person, it is much easier to dismiss their contributions, their humanity, and their worth as people, and as an Entertainer, TFP is horrified that performers had anything to do with it, let alone made money off of it, but they did.

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And it was wrong.

Because those sketches and songs, and pseudo-co-ooption of Black American songs and imitations of Black Americans justified Jim Crow laws and people putting up signs like this:

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It began in the early 1800’s in this country and it lasted, in popular performance until – wait for it – 1981. Yes, people, Blackface was ON TELEVISION in the UK until 1978 in The Black and White Minstrel Show.

Eventually it (mostly) died away in America with the Civil Rights Movement, as white performers began refusing to do it, both as a means to survive as a performer and because of personal ethics. Better late than never.

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So that, Ms. Cheney, is “Blackface” – a degrading mockery of a proud people, whose long history with this Country has certainly had much sorrow and violence, in part because “blackface‘ performers allowed African Americans to be viewed as ‘less than’.

Let’s go on to Drag….

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Drag is not just what you see on RuPaul’s Drag Race, there are varying forms.

 

What TFP likes about Drag and Drag Queens, is that Drag celebrates the many amazing facets about being a woman – the vulnerability to express feelings in public, the use of makeup to enhance nice features or hide self-perceived flaws, the art of sequins, the glamor of good fake hair, and of course, the fabulousness of a curvy body.

Drag says ‘be proud of who you are, no matter who you are’.

And of course:

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The TFP has learned many things from Drag Queens over the years, and she is grateful for those lessons.

In general, Drag pays tribute to the women most women would like to be – beautiful and outrageous with an ability to charm and enthrall a crowd while delivering a message.

 

Not every Queen is ‘traditionally’ beautiful,

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but they deliver ‘realness’,

Jackie Beat - sometimes her 'realness' is intimidating and TURN OFF YOUR PHONE OR SHE WILL HURT YOU

Jackie Beat – sometimes her ‘realness’ is intimidating and TURN OFF YOUR PHONE OR SHE WILL HURT YOU

the vulnerability of being a woman,

The Lady Bunny, the filthiest Lady around

The Lady Bunny, the filthiest Lady around

even if their drag is not “Pageant”.

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Not every Drag happens on the stage in a nightclub, or on your television set, America has lived with Drag as a tradition for as long as Entertainment has been around.

 

There have been some amazing Actors who have given performances in Drag.

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Take a look:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have those performances compelled you, Ms. Cheney, to take to your Social Media page in outrage?

No.

So, it’s not really Drag that upsets you, is it?

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TFP thinks what you are ‘suffering’ from is something else entirely, she thinks it is Sissyphobia”.

TFP believes that when you see Drag Queens ‘camp it up” on television, and call one another “Bitch” or “Girl”, you are not really seeing them ‘degrade women’ –  there are no women there to degrade, in point of fact.

(Let’s be honest, if you have never used the terms ‘bitch, dumb, catty, and slutty‘ to describe ANYONE, you are better person than TFP.)

(TFP can also ‘vouch’ for that intense eye makeup appearing on ‘real’ women, she grew up, in part, on Lawn Guyland, also, she watches MOB WIVES)

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What you seem to be having a reaction to is men who are acting effeminate both in and out of Drag, and  you have a problem with it.

Or at least that is how TFP sees it. You do not seem to be a woman with a lot of humor.

 

Ms. Cheney,  though our Society uses the label ‘sissy’ as a weakness, in the Drag Community it is a sought after illusion.

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As someone who is a ‘Proud, Out, Lesbian with a married spouse and two children’, who enjoys remarkable privilege given by birthright, skin color, and education, as well as limitless capitol, you may feel that you do not want anyone to ‘confuse’ your kind of LGBT with a Drag Queen persona. You do not want to be seen as a ‘sissy’, aka ‘weak’ and so you are wary of effeminate performers. You think RuPaul’s Drag Race is ‘holding you down’ as a woman.

You think Drag Queens are weak. Drag Queens are the strongest there are.

IF IT WERE NOT FOR DRAG QUEENS THERE WOULD BE NO LGBT “MOVEMENT” WHICH EVENTUALLY LED TO MARRIAGE EQUALITY, AND IN POINT OF FACT YOU HAVE BENEFITED FROM THAT, AS YOU ARE LEGALLY MARRIED TO A WOMAN.

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Or maybe you should just do an Internet search on the word, STONEWALL

Image from Stonewall Riots

Image from Stonewall

Some people, even LGBT people, even Cis-gendered people, would prefer that LGBT people act ONE way only – and that is ‘straight’.

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But, Ms. Cheney, there is no such thing as ‘straight acting’.

There is only ‘being’.

There are ‘only’ humans.

People of all shapes, colors, sizes, (as long as they do not hurt children or animals) have the right to live as out and as proud as possible – even if they are not Republicans.

Does TFP think that Drag is degrading to women?

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NO!

(Though she does wish they would stop using the word “Fish”  – which means, for those non Drag afficianados, aka “My Drag is so much like a woman that I smell like female parts” – shudder)

TFP thinks that Drag lifts you up, makes you laugh, makes you think, makes you feel ‘all the feelings‘, and allows people to be human, with all the flaws and missteps that we have. You can be any shape, any color, any ethnicity, any religion…

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…and you would be welcome at a Drag Show.

Look, Ms. Cheney, we know your world is a bit…

 

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But you should know the difference between Blackface and Drag – because NOT to know the difference is ignorant.

However, ignorance can be fixed – so now…..YOU ARE HEALED!

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Mary Cheney – for confusing debilitating racism  aka “Blackface” – which btw helped bestow upon you the privilege that your family continues to live with,

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with men in glittery dresses who lip synch show tunes and embrace everyone,

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TFP fines you 10 smacks of the wand and a month long education session with your local LGBT center, and honestly, volunteering at a Homeless Gay Youth Center would not hurt you either.

Audra McDonald….drop that mic and take us home…

 

 

The Fairy Princess likes change.

SCIENCE! IT WORKS!

SCIENCE! IT WORKS!

Although the current New York weather, aka The Great Blizzard of 2015, is potentially going to be a nightmare of frigid proportions

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TFP still enjoys change.

Also, she like s people who can hear about something, acknowledge that there is a problem, and change their mindset so that the problem can be solved. It does not even have to have a name this problem, but if you like, go ahead and name it…

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Nevermind, the problem TFP was concerned with already has a name, we call it “Yellowface”.

And, occasionally it looks like this:

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Or this:

Actor Lambert Wilson as The King of Siam in a French Production of King & I

Actor Lambert Wilson as The King of Siam in a French Production of King & I

Or this:

Jered McLenigan as Anthony - Photo by Mark Garvin

Jered McLenigan as Anthony – Photo by Mark Garvin

Seriously, TFP could post photo after photo of this kind of thing and what it is IS (for those not in the know), is a Caucasian Actor donning makeup and clothes to portray an Asian person, and in this day and age in 2015, it is not cool.

TFP honestly gets no joy in writing about this phenomenon again and again, it’s like riding a rocking horse so fast you get motion sickness, and no matter HOW many times you write about it and no matter how many people acknowledge that it seems in poor taste,  it happens again, and you are back on that damn rocking horse and you feel a bit like…well….

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Like no one is hearing you.

Such was the case when TFP wrote this post about a production of The King and I that was happening at Dallas Summer Musicals this summer, when they announced the casting of a Caucasian King.

TFP was pretty annoyed…images

She wrote her blog and said what she had to say, as she does from time to time, and quite a lot of people read it, thanks to the internet thingy and a very fired up Orville Mendoza

 AAPAC, (Asian American Performers Action Coalition) also wrote a letter.

And guess what?

We had a response from Mr. Michael Jenkins!

Mr. Michael Jenkins, head of Dallas Summer Musicals

Mr. Michael Jenkins, head of Dallas Summer Musicals

He read many of the emails sent about this issue, was no doubt told of the strenuous objections posted on the Facebook wall of his organization, and here was his response:

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TFP was delighted to hear that Dallas Summer Musicals will re-cast their King!

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And now, here is her ‘charge’ to the API denizens of the Dallas/Ft.Worth area – GO TO THIS SHOW AND…..

MAKE IT RAIN

MAKE IT RAIN

That’s right, TFP wants You, Asian America, to PROVE that you will stand with those who will represent you and your stories and BUY A TICKET.

Be prepared, you may have to PAY FULL PRICE!

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Yes, really.

Because what you are paying for, is a top notch production on a world class stage full of Asian Americans who will be singing and dancing their hearts out and they NEEDS TA GIT PAID!

Why?

Because APIs buying tickets and supporting the hiring of APIs onstage leads to great things for our community – more visibility.

Right now, we, the API Community are in a wonderful, starting off place, we have shows on television where we are represented – Karen David in GALAVANT, Reggie Lee in GRIMM, Maggie Q in STALKER, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park and Masi Oka in H50, Ming Na Wen and Chloe Bennet on AGENTS of S.H.I.E.L.D., Mindy Kaling in THE MINDY SHOW, Lucy Liu on ELEMENTARY…and we have these charming kids ready to premiere on Feb. 4 on ABC….

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But we are not on everything. We are not at the Oscars. We are not at the Golden Globes. We are not at The Tonys in a discernible way.  We are not at the big award shows on the podium winning awards, you know, the shows that ‘everyone’ watches and grows up dreaming about being on. There is a path to that, and we are still at the beginning.

Look, in order to get more of us on television, we have to ‘prove’ we are bankable, and that proof starts at the ground level. If we were to steal a phrase from a popular tv show, APIs in show business, we need you, the (much more sensible) APIs not in show business, we need you to be ‘our person’.

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If you are an Asian Pacific Islander living in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, even if you do not like musicals, even if you have never seen a musical, if you can afford the ticket price, buy one and go – show them that Asians on the stage means Asian butts in the seats.

Because all the theater wants is a full house, and they do not care what color the people sitting in them are, as long as they are S.R.O. (Sold Right Out)

Yes, they made a misstep in the casting in the first place – but the show was not up yet, TFP and Orville Mendoza ‘caught’ it in time to make a difference, but we cannot do it alone. We have to have the support of the general API Community to show that our faces on the stage matter!

Yes, Mr. Jenkins may not be aware that Yul Brynner’s Russian heritage included Mongolian and that Lou Diamond Philips has Filipino heritage, which makes them both men OF Asian heritage, which means they were perfectly suited to play The King, yes – yes we know.

Yes, they have cast many APIs before in various shows, and really did not understand what the message they were sending was…(maybe they thought it was like Weight Watcher points and they get to spend them when they want to splurge or something, and btw, casting APIs is not like WW points at all)

BUT NOW THEY DO.

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LESSON LEARNED.

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MOVE ON.

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BUY A TICKET.

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Or you will have wasted all TFP’s time and outrage, and many others. We, the Actors, cannot do this alone. We cannot fight for all of ‘our’ representation by ourselves, we need your support!

BUY A TICKET.

Tickets

SELL IT OUT.

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CAN YOU DO IT?

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MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THIS:

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That is all.

Finally, Mr. Jenkins, Dallas Summer Musicals, and Glenn Casale, The Fairy Princess thanks you for taking the time and conversation amongst yourselves to make a change in your thinking. She appreciates the big step you took in acknowledging that a mistake was made, and she thanks you for taking the time and effort and financial cost to fix it.

She also wishes Mr. Jenkins a healthy recovery and a great summer season with which to enjoy it.

Christiane Noll and Paul Nakauchi as Anna & The King

Christiane Noll and Paul Nakauchi as Anna & The King JUST AS AN EXAMPLE

Remember, APIs of Texas, we can help you from afar with changing things, but you have to stand WITH us in this ‘battle’ and buy a ticket.

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TFP out.

The Fairy Princess had a Broadway day the other day- dinner and a show. Magical, yes?

Actually, yes it was – she went to see IF/THEN and if one was looking for any indication of PTTS (Post Traumatic TONY Syndrome), you could not find it at this viewing. The audience gave standing ovations to the entire company, and no, jaded theater critics, the house was not full of 14 year old fans of FROZEN, it was an adult audience.

Because it’s written for adults. Adults who used to worry about rent, but who now worry about a lot more…like being alone.

 

Maybe the kids went to the matinee? Who cares? Let’s let it go.

When you see jaded New Yorkers overcome by a show, and hear them ‘ugly cry’ during some dramatic scenes in Act 2, and then seen what looked to be over 100 people waiting at the stage door for the leads, it makes it hard to walk away not feeling confused, given what happened this past awards show.

Though Hugh Jackman was ‘hopping’ as a host, and The Fairy Princess liked all the musical numbers coming where they did,

 

there seemed to be underlying tension throughout. If one did not follow the show on Twitter, one may not have known that there were some very cool things going on – people winning awards for the first time,

 

or for the second, or third because you were not seeing it on the small screen. There were oddly made decisions as to who warranted small screen time that made the show at times seem, well… petty.

Not to mention odd choices for ‘entertainment’

 

Meredith Wilson garnering accolades for being a rap composer, when they refused to televise the composer who won for a musical that was actually on Broadway this season was a time suck that The Fairy Princess could have done without.

Yes, BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY closed, we all knew that – but why wouldn’t BEST ORIGINAL SCORE or BEST ORCHESTRATION be televised?  Aren’t BEST ORIGINAL SCORE and BEST ORCHESTRATION the cornerstones of Musical Theater?

Who can do a musical without scores or orchestrations?

No one.

Plus, Jason Robert Brown gave good speech:

 

While JRB was ‘shouting out’ to women and acknowledging the relatively small number of women on Broadway in all the different aspects, The Fairy Princess would like to ‘shout out’ to him, that she appreciates that in what must have been a very bittersweet moment – accepting individual awards when your show has already closed – he took time to speak on the issue of representation and diversity.

That was classy.

However, having viewed JRB’s speech, and now seen IF/THEN, The Fairy Princess is truly wondering why some potential nominees were all but shut out of the process?

Mathematically, yes, it is explainable – there are 50 members on the Nominating Committee.

They have to see everything and then, of course, they vote. Their votes are tallied and  then get turned over to the general TONY voting population of just under 900 people. Those under 900 vote by another secret ballot, which is how we get our winners.

They have, the Nominating Committee, certain instructions in the category of Best Show:

1. Where there are are 9 or more potential nominees, the NC must vote for 4 shows, and the 4 shows with the most votes are automatically in the BEST SHOW category.

2. If there are 5 or FEWER shows in the category, the NC must vote for 3 shows, and nominations are awarded accordingly.

Now HOW and WHO decides if there should be a FIFTH nomination? Or a FOURTH nomination in a year with less choices?

An Accounting firm.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

OH. Ohhhhhhhh.

The Accounting Firm that counts the secret ballots is the one who gets to decide – and there must be a difference of only 3 votes from the lowest ranking of the nominees.

It is not an Artistic Decision, which seems odd given that these awards are given to and given by Artistic People.

The Fairy Princess is not disagreeing with any of the Nominations, but what she is disagreeing with is that there is no ability for the Nominating Committee – not to take away, but to add, or for them to debate the use of that 5th spot.

Perhaps it is adding an additional level that the TONYS does not want to be bothered with, but in a season packed to the gills with talented people in excellent musicals – and with the amount of money a show brings to the New York economy, why could not there be an addendum vote?

Isn’t there room for an Executive Decision – not as to what show to put IN that last spot, but an Executive Decision to say yes, that last one should be used let’s keep our top four, and let’s vote again for the last one?

There was an additional spot open in the BEST MUSICAL category, and if only for the good of the New York Economy (and yes, there are plenty of other reasons), it should be filled if at all possible.

A BEST MUSICAL nomination can keep the doors open and keep people employed – and not just “people who need people‘  – there are dozens of people who make every Broadway show work every night from the ticket takers to the Teamsters, who,  when they are working, are adding to the general prosperity of the theater district as well as pulling in a paycheck themselves. Broadway and it’s denizens contributed $11.9 BILLION to the New York economy and 87,000 jobs.

87,000 jobs!

A TONY Nomination all but screams “IF YOU LOVE THEATER BUY A TICKET”.

Every day someone walks up to a ticket window who has never been to a Broadway show, and they buy their first ticket, and what usually makes them ‘jump’ to do so is the number of TONY Nominations or Wins a show has. Likewise when the show goes on an AEA Tour, the amount of Nominations or Awards helps with the pre-sale. Which one could argue, might have an impact in keeping shows on AEA Contracts? Worth a thought.

We of the theater should be invested in that theatergoer, because it is a cyclical thing – they have to love us to keep coming back. Giving them, as Sondheim once wrote “More to see….“, is a better business plan. Strict adherence to numbers – in short, strict counting of 50 votes, is limiting their ability to ‘fall in love’ with a new show.

The Tony Nominating Committee did their jobs, they voted – the numbers just did not add up, and now, shows are closing. Shows  have closed.

Maybe a nomination would have made a difference to a particular shows fate? It is worth thinking about.

The Fairy Princess loved, loved, loved A GENTLEMEN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER, and she was thrilled when it won BEST MUSICAL,  but she also would have been thrilled to have seen the fifth spot used.

The choice to not revisit if the fifth spot should be used left Broadway with Casts feeling, oh HOW did Julie Andrews put it?

 

The Fairy Princess knows that ‘rules are rules’ and they are drafted for a reason, but this year was a very odd year, a very odd year, and she did not want to let it go by without remarking upon it.

It was damn passing strange. (Some people will get that joke)

In short, if Broadway is worth $11.9 Billion Dollars, but the Accountants do not ‘get’ that it is worth it to consider a fifth nomination….well, the idea of that makes The Fairy Princess as jumpy as a puppet on a string – and she knows from puppets.

GYPSY OF THE YEAR Performance - Jodi Eichelberger, Aymee Garcia, Carmen Ruby Floyd & Erin Quill

GYPSY OF THE YEAR – Jodi Eichelberger, Aymee Garcia, Carmen Ruby Floyd & Erin Quill

They may be great at counting, but they seem not to see ‘value’, and in the musical theater, we like things…how shall I say, on an angle?

 

The Fairy Princess LOVES The Tony Awards – this is not a crack at the Awards themselves, but the process seemed…well anyway, NEXT year…she wants it BIGGER….apologies to Hugh….