Travel Diary: New York City, March 10 & 11, 2016

Travel Diary: New York City, March 10 & 11, 2016

Hello lovely people! My posting schedule kind of went all sideways because I was busy getting ready to go to New York City with the Original Kids Theatre Company! I’m currently writing this post from a Starbucks on 43rd and 8th, and I am just basking in the gloriousness that is NYC! I’m going to try and take a few minutes every couple of days and share the highlights of what I’ve been up to.

We arrived in NYC on the morning of Thursday March 10 and went on a scavenger hunt around Times Square, getting re-acquainted (or in some cases, introduced!) to the Theatre District. The weather was insanely gorgeous, and we were all running around in t-shirts and tank tops! We were able to get into our hotel rooms around 3 pm, where we freshened up, hit up Shake Shack for dinner, and then went to our first show of the trip: School of Rock, based on the Jack Black film, playing at the Winter Garden Theatre. It was a fun show, with great music and an insanely talented group of kid actors who played all their own instruments in the band! It was a great way to start off this NYC adventure.

Travel Diary: New York City, March 10 & 11, 2016

Friday was our first full day in the city, and it was a busy day! I started out the day getting rush tickets for Something Rotten with Cole, Brenton and Lia (warning: you will be hearing a LOT about Something Rotten below!). After snagging those tickets (front row, only $35!), we took the subway to Fifth Avenue, picked up J.P. and dropped off Lia, and had a leisurely stroll up Fifth Avenue. We dropped off J.P. at Rockefeller Center (it’s weird spelling it with an ER) and had fun exploring the Lego store and Nintendo World. We checked out the New York Public Library and then ran back to Rockefeller Center to meet up with a whole bunch of OKids to experience Top of the Rock. It’s an absolutely gorgeous view. It was also incredibly windy! I’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building but this was my first time checking out Top of the Rock.

Travel Diary: New York City, March 10 & 11, 2016

We met back up with Lia and were joined by a couple other OKids for a nice dinner at Scarlatto, an Italian restaurant just steps away from our hotel. The gnocchi was fantastic. Zach and Nic headed off to The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time, which was just across the street. The rest of us were cutting it pretty close to our show though, and Cole, Brenton, Lia and I had to sprint to 44th street to get to Something Rotten on time!

Travel Diary: New York City, March 10 & 11, 2016

Our sprint was TOTALLY worth it though. Something Rotten was ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE AND I AM OFFICIALLY OBSESSED WITH THIS SHOW. It’s side-splittingly hilarious and so cleverly written, and I am going back to see it again before the end of the trip. Seriously, it was that good. I’ve already bought the album on iTunes and I plan to have the score memorized by the end of the trip. When can I get the rights to this show?!?!

We stayed to get autographs at the stagedoor after the show and I got to meet Christian Borle… witness the awesome:

Travel Diary: New York City, March 10 & 11, 2016

I only fangirled a little bit. 😉

Anyway — it’s been an amazing trip so far, and the trip has barely begun! I’m about to sign off to go catch a matinee of Shear Madness, and there is so much more that I’m looking forward to — Sleep No More on Monday night, a fight workshop with Jared Kirby on Tuesday, The Crucible on Wednesday afternoon, and of course I’m going to see Something Rotten again. I love this city!

Got any must-sees that I should check out while I’m in NYC?
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5 Items You’ll Need For A New York City Theatre Trip

5 Items You'll Need For A New York City Theatre Trip

I’m heading to New York City in less than a week with the Original Kids Theatre Company, and I’m so excited! This will be my fifth trip to NYC, and my third with OKTC. I’ve already got tickets for Sleep No More and School of Rock, and I’ve got a list of other shows and adventures I want to explore while I’m there!

Before any trip, it’s important to get your things packed and ready to go ahead of time so you aren’t all stressed out before you leave! If you’re specifically going on a trip to immerse yourself in theatre, here are five items you won’t want to leave home without!

1.  Sharpie markers.

Easy to stick in your pocket or purse, and great for getting autographs on your program at the stagedoor after a show. I recommend having three different colours: basic black, a metallic (gold or silver) in case your program has a mostly black cover, and one random, bright colour like red, fuchsia or purple. Avoid yellow at all cost!

2.  A small notebook and pen.

Useful for taking notes, giving notes, getting autographs, making tiny origami on the subway (why not?). It’s just really handy to have.

3.  A bunch of Broadway deals.

Theatre tickets can be expensive, so arm yourself with deals. Playbill.com and Broadwaybox.com can email you deals that you can print out and take to the box office. There are also deals at TKTS booths, lots of apps to find deals (TodayTix is a great one!) and various student and general rush policies, so do some research and get the best deal possible! (As a general note, Disney theatrical shows in New York City such as The Lion King, Aladdin or Mary Poppins tend to have very few, if any, deals available.)

4.  Comfortable shoes.

Get ready to max out your Fitbit. Every single packing list for NYC will say to bring comfortable shoes, and I will echo it. You will walk SO much in NYC and you don’t want to be suffering. From early mornings in line for rush tickets, to late nights in an immersive theatre experience such as Sleep No More or The Grand Paradise, you will walk more in NYC than you will anywhere else. However, do NOT wear flip-flops in NYC, ever, no matter how hot it is, and you’ll probably want to avoid white shoes, because they’ll get filthy fast.

5.  Cash

Honestly, just pack light and bring cash. You can buy literally anything in New York City. If you forgot something, you can easily replace it there. Cash is easier to manage for budgeting (swipe your credit card too much and you’ll just end up crying when you get home), and it’s the most convenient way of buying show swag if you want to buy it!

Leave at home:

  • Enormous suitcases. Just pack less. I’d recommend a duffle bag over a rolling suitcase — you don’t want to be struggling with a massive rolling bag on the subway.
  • Selfie sticks. Gross.
  • Cameras with neck straps. Bring the camera, but leave the strap at home or risk looking like a tourist.
  • Big golf umbrellas. Nobody will be able to walk around you on the sidewalk and you’ll annoy people. If you need an umbrella, get one of those tiny folding ones.
  • Fanny packs. Use a small cross-body purse instead.

What would you put on your NYC packing list?
Let me know on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!

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Travel Diary: Toronto, January 15-17, 2016

Travel Diary: Toronto, January 15-17, 2016

This past weekend was full of ridiculous times in Toronto, where we stuffed ourselves silly with food, wandered the city in search of adventure, and did some relaxing too. On top of that, I also got to see some great theatre! What could be better?

I travelled with Shawn and our friend Alex, and we met up with Shawn’s cousin Justin and his fiancée Nicole at our hotel, the Ramada Plaza Toronto Downtown. The hotel was quite nice and fit the five of us cozily. Comfy beds, free wifi, and amazing shower pressure. My only complaint was that there was no mini-fridge in the room, but that’s just a minor inconvenience.

Travel Diary: Toronto, January 15-17, 2016

On Friday night we had a quick bite to eat at the Irish Embassy Pub & Grill before I went over to the Royal Alexandra Theatre to catch Kinky Boots! Kinky Boots was just a blast — it’s not “high theatre” but doesn’t claim to be. It’s just pure, unadulterated FUN. It features songs by Cyndi Lauper and is touted as a “joyous musical celebration… about the friendships we discover, and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind.” It’s extended in Toronto until March 6, 2016, so grab your tickets now and don’t miss out! (It’s also playing on Broadway, so if you’re in NYC, go check it out!)

Travel Diary: Toronto, January 15-17, 2016

On Saturday we got a late start and headed to Walhburgers for lunch. All five of us got the BBQ bacon burger and revelled in fries, onion rings, and tater tots. (We may or may not have ordered an extra pitcher after finding out that Donnie Wahlberg was on his way to Toronto but didn’t actually see him. #creeperstatus)

The rest of the afternoon was for some wandering around the city (including a stop at the Steam Whistle Brewery for free samples), a bit of shopping, napping, swimming and hot tubbing at the hotel.

Travel Diary: Toronto, January 15-17, 2016

We headed back to London on Sunday morning and stopped at Moose Winooski’s in Kitchener for lunch, where we gorged on guacamole and mac & cheese-filled potato skins. YUM. Overall, it was a nice quick getaway with good friends. Can’t wait to hit the road again soon!

Travel Diary: Toronto, January 15-17, 2016

What are your top must-sees in Toronto? Tell me all about it!
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Huzzah! 3 Tips For A Great Medieval Times Adventure (Plus, A Deal For You!)

Huzzah! 3 Tips For A Great Medieval Times Adventure (Plus, A Deal For You!)

I am a Medieval Times junkie. I’ve been every year since 2011 and I’m still not sick of it. I’m obsessed with swords, horses and all things royal — I’d totally work at Medieval Times if they hired female Knights! (Hint, hint!!!)

Medieval Times is fantastic entertainment for everyone — families young and old, big groups, and adults alike. It’s not just for little kids — everyone can truly enjoy the pageantry, the service, the food and the show. It’s always so much fun!

Since I consider myself to be somewhat of a Medieval Times expert, read on for my three top tips for enjoying your experience at Medieval Times!

1. Arrive early.

When you book your tickets, you’ll be told when you can arrive — generally an hour before the show starts. I definitely recommend arriving nice and early for a number of reasons. First, you’ll need to check in with your party to pick up your seating cards and crown. You’ll line up in a queue to have your photo taken with a member of the Medieval Times cast — I’ve had my photo taken with the King, the Princess, and the Royal Falconer.

Once you arrive in the Great Hall, you’ll have time to look at the animals (the stables and falcon’s areas are really cool — sometimes the Royal Falconer brings one of the birds out to see up close!), check out the Museum of Torture (there’s a small admission fee), get a beverage (tons of fancy goblets, steins and mugs are available to quaff from), and peruse the gift shop (everything from tiaras and cheering flags to figurines and big fancy swords!). You’ll also be able to see Knighting ceremonies that happen before the show — you can even be made a Knight or Lady of the Realm! (I was made a Lady of the Realm last year on my birthday!)

Huzzah! 3 Tips For A Great Medieval Times Adventure (Plus, A Deal For You!)

2. Let yourself splurge a little.

You can purchase a ticket, show up, and just enjoy the show, but to be perfectly honest, I recommend spoiling yourself a bit and upgrading your ticket. Medieval Times offers three different ticket packages (Royalty, King’s Royalty, and Celebration) which include fun upgrades including VIP seating, photo packages, and special souvenirs. I usually get the Celebration package when I go to Medieval Times because you get a slice of birthday cake with your meal! It doesn’t matter if it’s not actually your birthday. Any day is a great day for birthday cake!

I also always pick up a little something from the gift shop as a memory of my trip. Each time I sit in a different Knight’s section, I get a miniature goblet shotglass in that Knight’s colour. I also get a cheering flag, and of course, the commemorative photo (which is dated). Maybe I’m a sucker, but it makes me happy, so I will indulge my medieval magpie!

Huzzah! 3 Tips For A Great Medieval Times Adventure (Plus, A Deal For You!)

3. Go in with an attitude of fun!

The moment you walk in the castle gates, you are treated like royalty. The staff at the castle will refer to you as My Lord or My Lady — enjoy it! Be prepared, you don’t get to pick which Knight’s section you’re in. I’ve been in the Black & White Knight’s section at least three times — guess that Knight is my champion!

Be ready to don a paper crown in your Knight’s colour and cheer like a maniac for your trusty and handsome Knight. After each round of competition, Knights who successfully complete the round receive flowers from the Princess to give to ladies in the crowd! If you want a flower, be sure to show your appreciation!

And don’t be afraid to get a little down and dirty — it’s true, you have to eat with your hands!

If you’re at the last performance of the night, after the show you can go back into the Great Hall and meet the Knights! They pose for photos and sign autographs, so go enjoy!

Medieval Times is way more fun when you’re not afraid to be a little silly, so go in with an attitude of fun and no matter which Knight is victorious, you’re already a winner.


SPRING BREAK BOGO AT MEDIEVAL TIMES –
VALID AT ALL LOCATIONS!

So hopefully by now I’ve convinced you that Medieval Times is fantastically fun, and you’re raring to go. Here’s a great deal for you to enjoy — buy one, get one FREE!

Huzzah! 3 Tips For A Great Medieval Times Adventure (Plus, A Deal For You!)

Must mention or enter code BOGORB at time of purchase. Buy one full-priced admission and receive the second admission of equal or lesser value FREE! Not valid with other discounts, offers or group rates. Not valid for the Saturday shows at the Buena Park location. Restrictions may apply. Valid through 5/3/15. Make your reservations by calling 1-888-935-6878 or visiting medievaltimes.com.

Purchase tickets: http://www.medievaltimes.com/purchasetickets.aspx


Have you been to Medieval Times? Do you plan on going soon? I’d love to hear your stories!
Share them with me on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!

This post was made possible by the Medieval Times Royal Bloggers Network.
All opinions are my own.

Travel Diary: A Murder Mystery and the Marriott, June 6 & 7, 2014

Travel Diary: A Murder Mystery and the Marriott, June 6 & 7, 2014

I will never say no to a crazy adventure.  So when Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre invited me to come check out their new show, Speakeasy: A Roaring 20’s Murder Mystery on June 6, of course I said “YES!”

Shawn loves travelling to Toronto, so he took it upon himself to book our hotel.  He surprised me by booking a suite at the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville.  Located at 90 Bloor Street East, this hotel has fantastic service and comfortable, spacious rooms, and is literally steps away from the gorgeous Yorkville shopping district.  Our suite was on the top floor and had a huge sitting room, a big comfy bed, two flat screen televisions and lots of storage space to spread out in.

Travel Diary: A Murder Mystery and the Marriott, June 6 & 7, 2014

The hotel has valet parking and a very helpful staff, who catered to our every need.  I mentioned on Twitter that I was excited about our upcoming mini-getaway, and their Twitter team (@MarriottBloor) wrote back right away!  It’s always nice to connect with hotels before you go there, in case you need to ask questions or request something special.  The only drawbacks that I noticed is that there is no swimming pool in this hotel, and wireless internet is available in-room, but it’s not free.

The drive to Toronto was ridiculous… there is a lot of road work going on at the moment, and the commute took much longer than it usually does.  However, the Marriott has a staircase that takes you straight down to the subway, and just a few minutes later I was at Mysteriously Yours to meet up with my friend Maggie, who was my date for the evening.  (Shawn went to Mysteriously Yours with me back in August 2013, so he suggested I bring someone who’d never been before… I suspect that there was a hockey or baseball game on that he wanted to watch!)

Maggie is a Toronto native, but had never been to Mysteriously Yours before.  I didn’t give her much in the way of details, other than letting her know that there is definitely audience participation involved in a murder mystery dinner!  Like I said in my last post about Mysteriously Yours, “Murder mysteries are not for the shy or faint of heart — the actors will come right up to you and start a conversation, no matter how much you try to hide!”  The characters (which included Al Capone, Sam Spade and Mae West, as well as a Doctor who looked eerily similar to Doc Brown from Back to the Future!) all interacted with us, giving clues and dropping one-liners and innuendo all night long!  Many of the characters were particularly interested in Maggie’s tattoo!

Travel Diary: A Murder Mystery and the Marriott, June 6 & 7, 2014

I remember the food at Mysteriously Yours being excellent the last time I attended, but this time we had a different situation: Maggie is vegan, and I definitely wanted to make sure that she would be able to eat the food there!  What’s the point of attending a dinner theatre if you can’t eat the dinner?!  I emailed ahead to let them know about our needs, and they were more than happy to accommodate us!  We were served a vegan potato soup to start.  My main course was salmon with aioli, quinoa and asparagus, and Maggie was served risotto.  For dessert I got the salted caramel brownie, and Maggie got a ridiculously yummy sorbet.  How they got the flavour to be so strong, I have no idea!

Travel Diary: A Murder Mystery and the Marriott, June 6 & 7, 2014

The current show, Speakeasy, is set in the 1920’s at the “Emerald City Night Club” with a twist — the slogan “Flappers and Gangsters and Guns… Oh My!” gives it away, don’t you think?  Well, I must be a slow one, because I didn’t notice the Wizard of Oz influence until Maggie pointed it out!  (Duhhhhh…)

The actors give clues throughout the night and it’s up to the audience to figure out whodunit!  All the audience members are given a ballot near the end of the evening to guess who the murderer is, and what clues brought you to your solution.  I won’t reveal any spoilers, but know that if you guess correctly, you can win a prize!  Maggie solved the mystery and was one of the prizewinners — her prize consisted of a reusable Mysteriously Yours shopping bag, a travel mug, and lip balm.  After dinner, the cast is available to take photos with the audience members — of course, I couldn’t resist a photo op!

Travel Diary: A Murder Mystery and the Marriott, June 6 & 7, 2014

After dinner, Maggie and I met up with Shawn at Three Speed for some post-mystery drinks before we headed back to the Marriott for a good night’s rest.  Shawn and I returned to our room to find this awesome surprise on the desk:

Travel Diary: A Murder Mystery and the Marriott, June 6 & 7, 2014

Totally unexpected… but what a treat!  Yummy chocolates, strawberries, raspberries, grapes and blueberries, bottled water and a lovely note.  Thank you, Marriott team!  That’s great service!

The next morning we headed out for some retail therapy in Yorkville (although we didn’t buy much!) and checked out all the fancy designer shops at Holt Renfrew.  I don’t think Shawn could ever fathom spending ____ amount of money on a single shirt or pair of pants, but it’s fun to browse and daydream!

We had so much fun… I wish we could have stayed longer!  But we’ll be back soon, I’m sure!

Travel Diary: A Murder Mystery and the Marriott, June 6 & 7, 2014

Disclaimer: I was invited to attend the Mysteriously Yours event free of charge.  Hotel was booked through Hotwire.com.  All opinions are my own.  Photos taken by me with my iPhone.