A Night at the Theater Review

I recently went to An Evening of Song with Lesli Odom Jr. at Tampa’s Straz Center for the Performing Arts, and talk about incredible! For those who don’t know, Lesli Odom Jr. is a Tony Award and Grammy Award Winning actor and singer best known for his unforgettable performance as Aaron Burr in Broadway’s Hamilton.

I had the pleasure of seeing him in Hamilton a little over a year ago and man is he talented. Being out of the 8-show-week grind, he has focused on recording his own music and is now on tour performing music from his albums as well as Hamilton.

Lasting about an hour, An Evening of Song was a show that provided the audience with a taste of what he’s all about. He was accompanied by his three band members that are so insanely talented, my jaw was dropped probably the entire time. His jazz album is all around good for the soul. It’s the kind of music you feel throughout your whole body and makes you so thankful for this wonderful life. The bass, the drums, the piano…it was breathtaking. You could feel their energy and passion oozing from the stage and each song brought me deeper and deeper into his world of music.

In addition to his insanely talented band, his renditions of his own songs from Hamilton took the performance to a whole other level. Most people know him for that performance and seeing him perform in a completely different setting compared to New York’s Richard Rodgers Theater was a treat. The biggest difference was that the accompaniment consisted of three people rather than an entire orchestra, and yet he still created magic in a more intimate performance.

The only downfall of the evening was how short it was. However, the hour was filled to the brim with feel good music that left me in awe. I was already a huge fan and I left the Straz Center not only wanting more, but with an even deeper appreciation for his art. He has a glow about him that lights up the entire room and his talent is undeniable. I’m blessed to have attended his evening of song and look forward to seeing him perform once again.

I encourage anyone reading to listen to his music! You will not be disappointed. A personal favorite of mine is his version of “Winter Song” from his Simply Christmas album. Enjoy 🙂

Apple Music Preview: iTunes

His Single: iTune’s

Debut Album: iTunes

Christmas Album: iTunes

 

Photo Credit: By Brittani Schiller

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How To Budget in a City

Moving to a city for college was super exciting and still is, but budgeting is very, very important. There’s so much to do and see, and it’s quite easy to say yes to everything and then realize you have no funds to pay for the lifestyle you desperately want. It is very hard to keep your money (if any) where it needs to be: away. So, here’s how to budget in a city where temptations are lurking around every corner.

 1. Limit yourself to ONE special something per week 

When I say this, I unfortunately don’t mean a luxurious getaway or super fancy skyscraper dinner. I’m talking about Taco Tuesday at Flaco’s or a cute shirt you just have to have. And sometimes I don’t even allow myself a weekly treat because I know the feeling of having $$$ in savings feels a lot better (most of the time). It may not be fun to limit yourself but trust me, it’s worth it.

 2. Stick to the list

Grocery shopping and/or shopping in general. Danger danger. My key tip for this is to seriously stick to the list. There’s always going to be something calling your name on the shelf, but if it’s not on the list, you most likely don’t need, need it. It comes down to separating the needs and wants and realizing that when you’re 20 something, basically broke, living downtown without a car, and having to carry all that heavy stuff back to your apartment…the lighter the load, the happier you’ll be (the cheaper the load, too). Temptations are very real. Especially when you grocery shop at Target and there’s a whole other section besides groceries. Stick to the list.

 3. Hide and don’t seek

Another trick that comes in very handy is of course saving. But a “fun” way to save is to take any extra cash you have in your wallet and put it somewhere safe that’s not in the bag you take everywhere. Maybe a drawer, a closet, an old box…something that’s put away and out of sight so you’re not constantly reminded of the treasure it holds. Tuck away that extra cash and make a pact with yourself to not seek it unless you absolutely have to. Trust me, it’ll be worth it when it starts adding up. If you’re like me, you may even forget about it and only remember you have some hidden away when writing a blog post on how to budget. So remember: hide but do not seek!

Lastly, given that I’m still in college and haven’t landed the dream job yet, I’m still very much learning how to manage my money. Working is my best advice. Work, save, repeat. But also treat yourself because you deserve it!

It’s all about finding that balance and enjoying yourself without breaking the bank. It is possible even when living downtown Chicago. There’s lots to do that doesn’t involve spending and while there are plenty of temptations, it is more than possible to have fun, experience new things, explore and have some extra cash (hidden, of course).

 

Photo Credit: By Brittani Schiller

 

Mark Your Calendars!

The summer is full of things to do, places to go, and people to see. Here’s a few events coming up near me that make the summer months so great!

First Friday St. Pete – July 7th, 2017 

Free block party downtown St. Pete between 2nd and 3rd streets on Central Ave. The fun is from 5:30-10pm. Live music, dancing, and yummy food. What more do ya need!?

St. Pete Second Saturday Artwork – July 8th, 2017

St. Pete’s art scene is one you don’t want to miss. Galleries and studios stay open late as the event is held from 5-9pm. Not only is there cool art, but also free trolleys to bring people around the city to scope out the good stuff. More information can be found here.

Sunsets at Pier 60 Festival – Clearwater – Daily 

Clearwater Beach always has things happening and each night there are artisans, crafters, street performers, live music and entertainment 2 hours before sunset and 2 hours after. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s beautiful.

Safety Harbor Third Friday – July 21, 2017

Safety Harbor’s Main Street is a great place to be on the third Friday of the month. There’s shops, vendors, live music, and delicious food. From 6-10pm, this free event is perfect whether you’re with friends and wanting a fun, relaxing night or want a family friendly atmosphere.

Largo Cultural Center – A Chorus Line

Largo Cultural Center puts on some amazing shows and this month they are doing A Chorus Line! Shows will be July 14-16, 20-23, Thursday-Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. Ticket prices vary from $16-26 and it is reserved seating so don’t miss your chance! Trust me when I say it will be good!

 

Photo Credit: By Brittani Schiller

California Dreamin’

One with the clouds, the journey to Cali begins.
I just had to get the obligatory picture of Sunset Boulevard.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame has some pretty great views if I say so myself.
Spent the day pretending to be Emma Stone on the set of La La Land.
“Dog of the water” waiting for some nice humans to throw him a snack.
Cute lil’ toesies.
Santa Monica has my whole heart.
Pretended I was Hannah Montana the whole walk down.
Good ole’ pier coaster.
Scoops, scoops, scoops!
Like I said, it has my heart.

This trip is definitely one for the books. California has everything: city, mountains, beach and just about everything else someone could want. It has a zest to it that’s unlike anywhere else I’ve been. I’m also very thankful for my good friend, Chloe, who now lives in L.A. and is all the more reason to go back and visit (possibly even move). The trip was full of good times, amazing food, perfect weather, puppies, and the breathtaking views you see above.

Cali, I hope to see you very, very soon. Till then, take good care of my heart and my sweet Chloe ❤

 

Photo Credit: By Brittani Schiller

My Promise Letter to Time

Dear Time,

I am writing to you today because you are worthy of praise. You are a very weird concept and sometimes it feels like you are slipping away, but having you by my side is a true blessing.

We aren’t told how much of you we will have or how little of you we will receive, but I’m learning day to day that we must fully appreciate you in your entirety. Sometimes you like to walk. Sometimes you like to run full speed ahead. I have found that the walking pace comes when I want you to run. When things aren’t necessary ideal, I’ve noticed you take a little longer to pass. On the contrary, the running seems to take place when things are at a high. All of a sudden, the days are passing and you are flying. I am writing you today to tell you that no matter what speed you choose, I’m learning that each is important and each is a gift.

No matter what stage of life someone is in, we are blessed to be in a stage period. Going forward, I promise to appreciate every ounce of you that I receive. I have a tendency to look at what’s coming rather than what is now and what is present. I also have a tendency to focus on things from the past. Both tendencies leave me looking at something that is out of reach and not presently with me. While you grant us the ability to remanence as well as the ability to look beyond, I promise to appreciate you in the moment just as much.

It’s funny. It seems as if when we’re kids we want to be the prestigious adult. And when we’re in the middle, in adulthood but not yet in the “old” category, we wish to go back to the days that are filled with play time and the unforgettable nap time. It’s that whole way of thinking that we want what we can’t necessarily have. But what we don’t realize, is that we have you each step of the way. You are what permits each step to happen.

You are the foundation for this lovely little thang. I promise to cherish you and do good with the amount I am allotted. I promise to soak in each moment, be in the present, and always recognize your lovely composition.

With immense gratitude,

Brittani

 

Photo Credit: By Brittani Schiller

Question of the Day

What is something that brings you joy?

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of something that excites me and brings me joy is theater. Whether that’s going to a show or performing in a show, I am my best self while in a theatrical atmosphere.

Thinking way back, I remember always wanting to sing and perform (side-note: being a performer at Disney is my ultimate dream). Unlike Florida, when I lived in Chicago we had basements, and my basement was pretty much my own little stage. I would go on our dial-up computer for hours on end with my microphone in hand and YouTube karaoke blasting away. I did a little dance back in the day, some shows in middle school, choir performances and then was able to discover musical theater on a bigger scale in high school.

Now, I feel like majority of my heart belongs to theater and everything that it is comprised of. In simple terms, it’s an art form. It’s all about people coming together to create and share a story and communicate with each other and the audience. Music alone has a way of transporting you into a world that seems limitless, and theater is that on another level. Being on stage allows someone to jump outside of their comfort zone, create a character, be a different person, live in a new world, and explore everything the stage has to offer. There’s truly no limits and it’s a beautiful form of expression that I have fallen in love with.

One of my main focuses for this blog is that it acts as a reminder to not only notice the things that bring us joy, but appreciate them to the fullest. However big or small they may be. Whether I’m laying in bed listening to a cast recording or getting ready backstage, theater is one of those things in my life that reminds me how incredibly wonderful this life is. I sadly haven’t been in a show for about two and a half years now, but have taken several classes at school and it’s still a major part of me. It’s a very rare day when I don’t listen to my jams and belt a little too loud. With that said, I hope to get back on stage in the very near future (fingers crossed for Disney, ladies and gents).

No matter who you are, where you come from, where you want to be, we all have things in our lives that bring us joy, make us smile, make us laugh, make us cry (yes, ugly cry too), and make us feel like we belong. Those things that make you hold your hands to the sky and thank the universe for its existence. The things that make you take an extra deep breath to soak up all of its goodness.

I invite you, reader, to comment on this post and answer the same question. What is something that brings you joy? While we are all different, we are all very much alike and connected. We all have passions, and I’d love to read about the things that you love most.

 

Photo Credit: By Brittani Schiller