Author: girlgrapher

MEETING ALANIS MORISSETTE

Last year, around this time, American Repertory Theater at Harvard was announcing its 2017/18 season. Among the list of productions was Jagged Little Pill. This new musical would be set to the music of Alanis Morissette’s hit 1995 album of the same name. As a big fan of the album and Alanis, I was excited and hoped the start of the show would mean a Boston visit from Alanis.

Fast forward to last month. Jagged Little Pill had begun to conduct previews at A.R.T. and the cast and crew of the show were busy ironing out the kinks before Opening Night. I checked social media everyday for a sign that  Morissette would make an appearance, until that sign eventually arrived in the form of an instagram post.

Immediately after seeing the post, I headed over to Cambridge after work. On the way to A.R.T., I encountered tons of traffic on the Mass Pike and I was afraid the delay would cause me to miss her.

After sitting bumper to bumper for at least 20 minutes, I finally broke loose and turned the corner onto the street A.R.T. is on. As my car inched to the theater, I caught a glimpse of bright blue. I glanced over and saw that the blue was from a silk shirt on … Alanis Morissette! I looked again fearing I had seen a mirage.

I immediately pulled over, parked and grabbed my cast signed program from a few nights prior and my Jagged Little Pill album from the glove compartment.

I turned back to where I had seen her, but she had disappeared. My heart sank. Had I imagined it?  Was that perfect opportunity gone? I looked everywhere before my eyes settled back on the blue of Morissette’s shirt as she smelled the lilacs from a bush across the street.

As I walked up to her, I couldn’t help but admire how much time she took to appreciate the world around her and the flowers that I had never noticed in all my trips to the theater. I didn’t want to interrupt; so I delayed asking her a few moments more. I used the extra time to calm my nerves and search for the confidence to approach her.

Finding that hidden confidence, I finally asked, “Excuse me, Alanis. Would you mind signing my cd?” She lifted her head from the lilacs, looked over, smiled and nodded.

As she was signing my CD and program, I told her how much I loved her music and how amazing the show was. She was so appreciative of the feedback, smiling like a proud parent.

Once she was done signing, I asked for a photo. I raised my camera to take a selfie and realized that I was shaking. I was so excited to meet someone who inspired me and a whole generation that the nerves and adrenaline were taking hold. I apologized and did my best to keep the camera steady. She was so patient as I tried to steady myself  and assured me it was okay and to take my time. Eventually, I pulled it together enough to get a photo.

Alanis Morissette

The photo does so much to remind me of the ordinary and the extraordinary.  Everything about the day and the meeting seemed organically ordinary, yet stepping back and realizing the talent I had the chance to meet, I realize how extraordinary it was.

Later as I thought over the moment and the moments that preceded it, I mulled over her interest in the lilac bush. Was she searching for inspiration… perhaps? Days later scanning through social media,  I discovered in that moment, when I saw her at the lilac bush, she was creatively framing a photographic shot inspired by a lilac bush her dad had given her when she was younger… and I was there…how cool is that and …how cool is she?  What a day! What an extraordinary meeting! One of my favorites!

 

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MEETING PLÁCIDO DOMINGO

Opera legend, Plácido Domingo was quoted as saying, “The public made me and then encouraged me for many years, and my future even now depends upon it.” Domingo’s appreciation and kindness towards his fans has been something I have heard about for years, but never knew its true extent until recently at one of his Boston performances.

It was just before showtime and myself and other fans had gathered by the stagedoor. We were all on high alert watching each of the shiny SUVs speeding by. Our concentration was suddenly interrupted when a man in a long coat walked up behind us. Although time had taken the color from his hair, his smile and accent quickly gave him away. Domingo, the silver haired man, apologized explaining that he was running late to soundcheck, however he promised he would be back out to greet us as soon as he was finished.

As a grapher, I’ve heard this line too many times. In most cases, celebrities use it to escape the crowd without any intention of returning. However, something in the way Domingo said it, assured us he was genuine and would uphold his promise.

We resumed our positions at the stagedoor. We jumped every time a caterer or a stagehand would pop out for a smoke. After an hour of waiting, Domingo emerged from behind the heavy metal door. He slowly worked his way down the line carefully signing everything everyone had. When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING.

It eventually came to be my turn. Domingo and I struck up light conversation and I told him what an honor it was to meet him and he responded with a smile. I asked for a picture and he jokingly asked if his hair was ok.

Once he had taken a picture with me and signed my record, he continued signing and smiling for many others. He never once complained about the time it took to meet the twenty of us or sign the stacks that some of the crew had. In fact, when he was done signing, he asked us if he had met everyone waiting and signed everything. We answered and thanked him for his time and he went back inside waving and thanking us.

Days later I’m still thinking about the experience. I am awed that unlike other artists like  Domingo that have been working for many years, he has never lost sight of his fans and how their loyalty has contributed to his impressive career. That realization makes me appreciate him and his artistry even more!

Placido

2017 YEAR END WRAP-UP: A PERSPECTIVE ON MUTUAL RESPECT

As I  reflect back on my 6th year of graphing, one predominant thought comes to mind: mutual respect.

A scenario that echoes this thought made headlines this past November when Finn Wolfhard, of the hit Netflix Stranger Things series, dodged fans waiting outside his New York City hotel; ignoring their presence. Those “fans” took to social media criticizing the actor for not stopping, tweeting, “Imagine being 14 and heartless that you can’t even stop for your fans who made you famous in the first place! WOW.”

His co stars immediately came to his defense. Shannon Purser, aka Barb, tweeted, “Okay, no. No actor is under any obligation to stop for anyone. Finn is an incredibly kind human. But he’s human and he needs breaks too.”

Being a part of many graphing social media groups, my timeline was flooded with different perspectives on who was in the wrong; Wolfhard or his fans. After viewing the video of the interaction multiple times and scanning through many opinions, I came to the conclusion that the reason both sides were so heated about the matter was due to the fact that both parties felt that they had been disrespected.

I do believe that it is important for celebrities to be respected, however mutual respect of fans is also warranted.  If you watch the video of the incident, the waiting few merely asked Finn for an autograph. Even though they waited patiently for his appearance and called out to him respectfully, he never once acknowledged that they were even there. He never said hi. He did not even wave. It was as if they did not even exist. Such disregard on a human level, is disrespectful.

On the flip side, I do understand Wolfhard and Purser’s perspective. No celebrity is “obligated” to stop. Privacy should be valued, but at the expense of devaluing another is wrong.

If the event had ended there one could site Wolfhard somewhat at fault. However, the fan’s anger led to a shaming Tweet post about Wolfhard that I believe crossed the line.

Unfortunately, one grapher’s negative actions make the press, and overshadow a celebrity’s disregard of his fans. It is important to note, that this is not the norm for grapher’s or for celebrities.

For example, around the same time the Finn incident happened, I experienced a wonderful example of mutual respect.

I am a huge fan of the show FRIENDS and when I got a tip that Matt Leblanc would be coming to Boston, it was hard to contain my excitement over the possibility of meeting the guy who got us all asking, ‘How You Doing?’

The day came and I was poised in the airport terminal with my full size Friends poster in hand. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of Matt with his blue baseball cap. As he approached, disappointment began to set in. I noticed that his daughter was by his side. Out of respect for the celebrity, it’s generally my rule not to ask them to sign when they are with their families; so I began to return the poster back in its tube. I looked up briefly and made eye contact with Matt. He had seen the poster and I think sensed my disappointment. He explained that he would love to stop, but he couldn’t with his daughter. I told him that I understood and wished him a safe trip.

He smiled and continued on his way. When he got half way down the terminal, he looked back to see if I had followed. However, I was still in the same place he had left me. He nodded as if to say thank you.

Although I left without the picture or autograph that I had hoped to get, I was left with the memory of the pleasant interaction. Matt was respectful and recognized that I had put the time in to wait for him and I was respectful of Matt’s wishes. I know I’ll meet him one day, but I want it to be on both of our terms.

As I raise my glass to 2018, I hope for a year filled with many more respectful interactions and perhaps even a picture with Matt.  

MEETING JAMES CORDEN

This month, Carpool Karaoke star and Late Late show host, James Corden took a detour to Boston to speak to local university students. It has been awhile since I was a student, however, that did not stop me from figuring out a way to meet the Tony Award winner at this student event.

I arrived to the venue just as the Corden audience crowds had begun to flood the streets. The beaming faces and high energy level of the spilling crowd confirmed that it had been an awesome show. While scanning the smiling faces, I noticed a well lit side-door that the crowds were not using. There was no waiting car near the door, but my suspicion that Corden would exit from this unutilized doorway, caused me to hover at the spot in the hopes that I was right.

A crowd of about 20 people soon began to join me as I waited. I feared that this stage door crowd would swell too much or that temperatures would plummet and then there would be no way Corden would stop to sign or take pictures.

I looked back and noticed that the streets had cleared of event attendees. My eye caught a glimpse of a black SUV as it zoomed to the venue’s front door. Security flagged and redirected it to the side-door where we were waiting.  We waited in anticipation as the SUV driver stopped, hopped out, and opened the passenger door.

We cheered as Corden appeared. He waved and headed straight for the car. My heart sank thinking he was about to drive away? But as quickly as it sank, it rebounded as Corden leaned his head out yelling “I’ll be right over guys.” Within moments, he was in the middle of the crowd taking selfies. He even gave suggestions to get the best selfies and gave advice regarding lighting when one student’s face was hidden in shadow. Between pictures, he answered questions and interacted with the crowd.

He took a few more selfies, including one with me and hopped into the car. The crowd waved as he drove off; I imagine, rocking out to the next Carpool Karaoke star’s music.james corden with watermark.jpg

I watched as the car disappeared; while I took in one of those great grapher moments. Thank you James!

 

MEETING BETTY WHO

It’s such a pleasure when a performer gives you reason to admire them as a person as well.

In 2014 Betty Who, a graduate of Berklee, was riding the success of her first single, Somebody Loves You; popularized by an adorable proposal video. Her song was climbing the charts and she was touring the United States. I was excited to see that the tour included a stop in Boston, but was disappointed when I found out that tickets were limited to students of the host university. Although disappointed, I was still determined to meet her.

The show day arrived as temperatures in Boston dropped below freezing. Despite the cold, I made my way to the venue’s stage door; bundled in a huge winter coat looking much like a giant marshmallow.

A few hours passed before Betty’s cab pulled up. She emerged and smiled when she saw me, the giant marshmallow, waiting. She happily gave an autograph and took a picture with me.

betty who

Meeting Betty had already put me over-the-moon. She was so down to earth and she made me feel like I was meeting up with a good friend rather than meeting a celebrity. I was ready to head home when she asked if I planned to see the show. I told her that I had been unable to obtain tickets to the closed event. She quickly said, “Let’s fix that!”

She brought me inside the venue and convinced the people running the event to make an exception. I couldn’t believe this was happening and expressed how grateful I was to receive the pair of tickets. She soon had to scoot off to soundcheck, but said she looked forward to seeing me in the crowd that night.

I returned to the venue at showtime with my friend, Sabrina. When we got to the door, the guard said that we weren’t on the guest list. My heart sank. Perhaps, this was all too good to be true.

I quickly remembered that Betty’s manager had given me her number in case I had problems with the tickets. I gave her a call and she assured me not to worry and that she’d be right out. Betty must have overheard and was right there before I could even hang up the phone. She apologized and personally wrote our names on the guest list. After thanking us for coming, she disappeared backstage and the lights dimmed.

The show that night was one of the best I’ve seen. There was lots of dancing and singing. It felt like a like a huge party and we all felt like family or as Betty calls it: The Who Crew.

The night ended and we all went our separate ways. I wasn’t able to thank Betty in person after the show, but sent a text to her manager expressing how grateful I was. She responded with a picture of Betty Who smiling with a thumbs up.

Since 2014, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Betty Who a few more times. I still will not forget how nice she was that night to a fan. As the years have gone by and her success has grown, I have become a greater fan and realized She’s (really) Some Kinda Wonderful.

Baby Driver Review

Ansel Elgort is stealing more than hearts in the new action film, Baby Driver.

Orphaned in a car accident as a child, Baby (Elgort) becomes a delinquent to get by. As a teen, he finds himself back behind the wheel as a getaway driver. Viewers learn quickly that this new gig is retribution for stealing robbery ringleader Doc’s (Kevin Spacey) car and that Baby has two more gigs to complete before his debt is paid. Baby soon learns that he’s “never done” and that the debt will never be considered “paid”. Complications increase when Baby finds a love interest at a local diner. Love develops and as expected, chaos ensues.

Since opening, the film has raked in over $41 million worldwide. This expected commercial success includes all the classic action movie components including chase scenes, shootouts and romance. Writer and Director, Edgar Wright has masterfully written a script that combines drama with comedy in a way that is believable and fluid. He has judiciously placed jokes to add levity and lessen tension and has inserted such characters as Doc’s nephew to inject dry humor.

Wright’s film boasts a unique form of editing and cinematography that keeps the audience engaged in a seemingly extended music video. Even stacks of cash are dropped on the table to a choreographed beat, creating a soundtrack that spans all genres and generation.

Wright’s unique approach is revealed to the unassuming viewer when Baby becomes aware of the soundtrack and uses it to drown out recurring memories of his earlier car accident. Baby even makes his own music out of recorded conversations; which makes for a comical moment in the film.

The success of Wright’s film does not lie solely with him. It is supported by a tremendous and often witty cast of Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Lily James and many others.

Wright’s trailblazing efforts to create new genres of action films with Baby Driver, is not without shortcomings. Unlike other films of similar genres, there is noticeably less violence at the beginning of the film. This lack of violence paired with a sudden impaling and a shootout end of the film place the viewer initially in a disorientated state. Additionally, the tight music track editing becomes lazy towards the end of the film and it becomes apparent that the beats no longer sync. Despite these minor flaws, Baby Driver is a movie worth racing to and one that is sure to entertain.

MEETING ZARA LARSSON

At the beginning of 2016, I was scanning new releases on Spotify and came across a song that had a great beat and featured an awesome voice! Lush Life, by Zara Larsson,  immediately was added to my playlist and became my go to jam on car rides.

Soon after my discovery, Zara visited Boston for radio promo. Despite my best attempts, I was not able to “win my way in,”  However, I hoped that with her talent, a tour back to Boston would be scheduled soon; giving me another chance to meet her.

Fast forward to the end of 2016 and Zara Larsson announced that she would join Clean Bandit and Starley on a North American tour! I was so excited. However, with the amazing lineup, tickets for the show went very fast. So fast, that I didn’t get one! It was the radio promo scenario all over again. Despite my previous disappointing experience,  I was determined to meet her.

On the day of the concert, I arrived at the venue with minutes to spare. All the performers were delayed in soundchecking due to radio promo! The delay worked in my favor and provided an opportunity to see Grace, Luke and Jack from Clean Bandit and Starley, who were all extremely sweet and a pleasure to meet.

With only an hour to spare, Zara Larsson emerged from her tour bus. As she entered the venue, she smiled and waved. She noted she would stop after; but I was skeptical knowing from experience that even the nicest performers aren’t always able to keep such promises. Not feeling confident in the promise, I began to pack up my bag before the performance even started. I was ready to head out when I heard, “Hey Girl!” I looked up and saw Zara walking over to ME! She signed her new album as other fans began to gather. She was just as gracious with them. Before she returned to her bus, she asked me if she would see me inside and I explained that  I wasn’t able to get a ticket to the sold out show. Without hesitation, her and her team handed me a ticket. I accepted and Zara took one  last photo and headed back on the bus.

zara watermark

The concert was one giant dance party and was one of the best concerts I have gone to. Zara glided through riffs and kept up with her backup dancers.

The encounter and performance left me in awe and made me an even bigger fan.

Thank you to Zara Larsson!