Culture Feature

On Transgender Day of Remembrance: 5 Iconic Trans Men From History

While we memorialize victims of transphobia, we should take the time to remember the historic contributions of trans men.

Philanthropist Reed Erickson

November 20th is known as Transgender Day of Remembrance.

First marked in 1999, it's now part of Transgender Awareness Week, and an occasion to memorialize victims of transphobic violence who have died in the course of the year. Trans women of color in particular have long been disproportionately targeted by violent transphobes.

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New Releases

Brittany Campbell Releases Powerful BLM Protest Song and Video, “Matter”

The video and song, Campbell explained, was inspired by the frustrating interactions that many Black Lives Matter advocates are currently having as they debate the validity and morality of a movement intended to support Black people's lives.

Brittany Campbell - Matter

Brittany Campbell has released a new song and a self-illustrated video. Entitled "Matter," the project is a moving tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement, a rousing call for solidarity, unity, and resistance.

Brittany Campbell - Matter www.youtube.com


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FILM

Is “Hamilton” Sexist?

The hit musical will drop on Disney+ July 3rd.

Lin Manuel-Miranda's Hamilton has taken the theater world by storm since its 2015 Broadway premiere.

A hip-hop musical about America's founding fathers doesn't sound immediately appealing, but Manuel-Miranda's brilliant song writing and diverse casting not only captured the attention of audiences, but proved that major change is possible within an art form as encumbered by traditions as musical theater.

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Culture Feature

Broadway Straight to Your Computer: Musical Theater in Lockdown

From the cast of "Dear Evan Hansen" to an average family's rendition of "One More Day."

If you're someone who loves live theater, then you know that it really can't be replicated on film.

But for the first time, live theater is no longer readily available. Broadway and the West End are both closed, as are the majority of the theaters around the world. If you're missing it as much as we are, recorded versions of beloved musicals and musical theater songs are good enough to tide us over until the theaters open their doors again.

Original "Hamilton" Cast Sings for 9-year-old's Birthday 

There is no chance you can watch this without crying. None.

"Dear Evan Hansen’" Cast Performs on James Corden's Show

Late night talk show hosts are trying to spread some cheer by returning to TV, and this reunion of the original "Dear Evan Hansen" cast is certainly worth watching.

Andrew Lloyd Webber Sings "All I Ask Of You" 

Andrew Lloyd Webber is obviously one of the best living composer's of all time, and it's a real treat to see him play one of the best songs ever written.

Family’s rendition of ‘One Day More’ from "Les Mis"

This isn't exactly broadway caliber, iits even better.

Live Stream Q&A's with West End Stars 

Follow London Theatre on Instagram to partake in their morning warm ups and West End star Q&A's!

Watch the Online Recording of Cats

Don't worry, it's not the movie musical; it's the original stage musical from 1998 with Elaine Paige singing "Memory." Watch it here!

Watch Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's best plays, and thanks to the Public Theater and PBS, last summer's Shakespeare in the Park production is available to stream.

Watch SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

SpongeBob SquarePants The Broadway Musical for Everyone

If you're looking for light hearted entertainment, this brightly colored spectacle is just the thing to distract you from your isolation.

YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND performed by the worldwide cast of BEAUTIFUL (in quarantine) for The Actors Fund

The cast of "Beautiful" on Broadway wants you to know that "You've Got a Friend."

FILM

The "Hamilton" Disney Movie Will Be Truer to Its Message Than the Musical

Lin Manuel Miranda's smash hit Broadway musical is coming to the big screen.

"Hamilton" is officially coming to theaters. For the price of a movie ticket, fans will be able to experience Lin Manuel Miranda's smash hit musical for themselves.

The movie will be a live recording of the original Broadway cast, so fans will be able to see Lin-Manuel Miranda gallivanting around the stage as Alexander Hamilton, along with Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr, Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, Jonathan Groff as King George III, and many more. The musical will be hitting theaters on October 15, 2021.

The Broadway musical became a smash hit partly thanks to its ability to mix American patriotism with progressivism, as well as its radically diverse cast and its innovative fusion of hip hop and musical theatre styles.

But the show—which is really about scrappy young working-class people fighting for their American dream—was never exactly accessible to the people it aimed to represent. Hamilton tickets went for hundreds to thousands of dollars and was only available to New Yorkers and visitors with the ability to go to the theatre.

To stay true to the show's mission and message, Miranda and the Hamilton cast made sure that the show focused on philanthropy. When Philippa Soo, who plays Hamilton's wife, discovered that the orphanage Eliza began in Hamilton's honor still existed, she created an organization called "The Eliza Project" to raise money and offer support for the Bronx-based Graham Windham facility.

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Hamilton dance captain Morgan Marcell has also done his part, helping to start The Eliza Project and launching "Share Your Stories," a pen-pal program that connects cast members and kids at the orphanage.

The show also hosts a series of matinees for 11th graders in public school, which go for $10 a ticket. "I can only imagine what the show would have meant to me as a 16 or 17 year old," said Leslie Odom, Jr. of the project. "I know what Rent meant to me in my life, how that show changed the course of my life, and we can only hope that Hamilton will have the same effect on a few kids. We get so much doing this glorious material, and we get so much from our audiences, and so when you're in a moment like that, you feel the responsibility very acutely to pay it forward."

Now, Hamilton will be lending its revolutionary sentiments to the big screen. "Lin-Manuel Miranda created an unforgettable theater experience and a true cultural phenomenon, and it was for good reason that 'Hamilton' was hailed as an astonishing work of art," Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger told Variety. "All who saw it with the original cast will never forget that singular experience. And we're thrilled to have the opportunity to share this same Broadway experience with millions of people around the world."

Certainly, Hamilton is a life-changing show. But will it be as effective as a film?

While movies can be impactful, there's nothing like the magic of live theatre. Still, as a movie, the show will be reaching far more people than it could've on the Broadway stage. Hamilton's spirit of populist energy, activism, and political fervor is something we could all use right now at the start of election season.

The show also makes a powerful statement about immigrants and how they shaped America. "I just recognised that guy," said Miranda, describing his connection to Alexander Hamilton. "When you see Hamilton as an immigrant story, it becomes universal to me because I grew up in a largely immigrant neighbourhood in New York and we just knew the deal was: we have to work three times as hard. I don't remember a time when my parents had less than three jobs each. That is just the immigrant story and in Hamilton's case, he ends up shaping the nation. He gains the trust of George Washington and he ends up shaping our financial system, inventing the coast guard, creating the New York Post and a million other things."

Hamilton the Musical hasn't been without criticism, especially among those who criticize the show for exploring white history and emphasizing a "bootstraps" immigrant narrative, which blames any immigrants' failures on their lack of hard work rather than systemic forces of oppression. "The assertions here, that Hamilton worked harder and was smarter, true or not, imply that other immigrants who have not experienced success in their new nation are somehow at fault. They either do not work hard enough or, simply, are not smart enough. Such logic neglects and obscures the material obstacles and violences (structural racism, predatory capitalism, long-burned bridges to citizenship) imposed on racialized immigrants within the United States in order to celebrate the (false) promise of the American dream and the nation-state," writes James McMaster for Howlround.

All that said, Hamilton is still a powerful tale that strikes more than a few meaningful chords. Now audiences across the country can decide what they think of the ten-dollar founding father and his musical origin story.

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MUSIC

Let Leslie Odom Jr.'s Silky Vocals Ease All the Pain In Your Soul

The sonic equivalent of a hot toddy on a cold night.

Leslie Odom Jr. has released a new album, entitled simply Mr, and it's, well, soothing.

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While some music is great for diving into the darkness so you can come out stronger (cough, FKA twigs' latest album), some music is useful for replacing all the aches in your heart with elegant jazz, dreamy violins, and of course, Leslie Odom Jr.'s voice.

If we're talking voices, Odom Jr. has the voice. It's the vocal equivalent of a hot toddy on a cold night, an advil in the thick of a migraine, a sip of warm but not hot honey-ginger tea. It's just rough enough to sound real, and thank god for that little rasp, otherwise it would be almost incomprehensibly smooth. He's riffing magnificently and shifting from falsetto to sultry low notes with impressive ease.

Mr finds the former Hamilton star adding modern inflections to classics such as Nina Simone's Feeling Good, using that song's triumphant chord progression to fuel the energy of his song "Standards," which is all about having high standards.

Wait for It www.youtube.com

Though not ostensibly a Christmas album, Mr still feels like Christmas—it's got all the bells and whistles, and you can imagine it playing in a department store during the Christmas sale rush, but in the best way possible. That's not to say it's not great party music: It would also be perfect to play during a Christmas party.

Odom Jr. can't quite shake his theatre kid roots, and it shows, as the album has an element of flashy performativity to it. That doesn't hurt the quality of the music. If anything, it's refreshing in an era obsessed with radical authenticity and glitchy sonic experimentation. Though not averse to drawing from a wide range of styles, Odom Jr. makes it all sound classic and refined, resulting in a cohesive, beautiful, and deeply, deeply soothing work of art.

Some of the songs are quite poignant, while others turn political, but ultimately, it's the perfect album to listen to if you're trying to stop racing endlessly through the hamster wheel and just take a minute to rest. On "Cold," he's literally inviting you in from the cold and promising to keep you safe, so take note. Here's some advice: Tonight, shut off Twitter, curl up with a cup of echinacea tea, and let Leslie Odom Jr. sing you to sleep. Sleep for twelve hours, wake up with your winter cold gone and a newfound excitement for the holiday season running through your currently cold, dead veins, and give thanks for Mr and all the pristine sounds that Leslie Odom Jr's voice box is capable of creating.