BROADWAY: Stage VS. Film

I was eight years old when I saw my first Broadway show. My parents took me to New York City for my very first time to celebrate my eighth birthday with my best friend and her parents. We saw “Beauty & the Beast” on the Great White Way; I was completely captivated. It helped, of course, that the play was based on one of my favorite Disney movies. Scenes that played fondly in my head in soft animation exploded in front of my eyes in a dazzling display of pyrotechnics and choreography. Broadway has held a special place in my heart ever since; I’ve seen approximately a dozen shows and there’s only been a handful that I haven’t loved. It’s an amazing experience each and every time. The success of certain stage shows has been helped along by film versions for years now, but only recently have I started to truly enjoy comparing the two. There are movies I’ve seen and loved even without even having the experience of the stage to back it up (like “Rent” and “Sweeney Todd”). Just this month alone, I was able to do some of that comparing twice. On June 18, I saw “Aladdin” on stage. On June 26, I saw “Jersey Boys” on film. So I decided to do a quick breakdown of all the Broadway shows vs. movies I’ve seen. Ya know. For fun.

Beauty&theBeast1. Beauty & the Beast (1995)

What worked: The “Be Our Guest” dinner show has been unmatched in any show I’ve seen since.

What didn’t: The beast in the film is scary. The beast on stage was scary-ugly. That costume could’ve used some work.

Which was better: The movie. Don’t get me wrong, the show was amazing. But there’s a reason why the Disney generation holds those classic animation films on such high pedastals. Continue reading

From NJ to FL: Favorite Thrill Rides

Summer vacation season is fully upon us! One of my favorite ways to enjoy the summer months is by making sure my butt gets on some rides. I guess I would call myself a thrill-seeker. I’ve loved amusement rides since I was placed on the kiddie ones on the boardwalk as a toddler. I grew up riding boardwalk rides and eventually worked my way up to gargantuan coasters. I’ve never once looked at a ride and said ‘no’—well, only if it was out of my price range. I may scream along with everyone else, but it’s out of sheer joy. I’m on an adrenaline high every single time; I often get made fun of because I giggle uncontrollably when the coaster train comes to a stop and we’re rolling back into the station. Heights? Bring ‘em on. Speed? The faster the better. Upside-down? Duh. Just thinking about it is giving me that craving. I’ve already talked about rides in film, now it’s time to discuss the real deal. These are hands-down some of my favorite rides ever.
What are yours? 

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom | Orlando, FL

Disney-Space Mountain

I’ve waxed rhapsodic about Disney World plenty already, so it’s probably not a surprise that one of their rides made my list. Favorite park: Magic Kingdom. Favorite ride: Space Mountain. Come on, it’s a classic! When my family and I find ourselves standing at the rope to enter Tomorrowland, we’re already gearing up to make a mad dash to the oldest operating roller coaster in the state of Florida. If you’ve ever Googled photos of what the ride looks like with the lights on, you’ll see there’s not much to it; just a small steel track in a compact space. It’s relatively tame, but with the lights out—where you can’t see when the sharp turns and steep drops are coming—it makes it one of the most fun experiences in the park. Continue reading

Best Beach Books

I’m still over a month away from my St. Lucia vacation, but I’ve been compiling my reading list for months. Every time I go away, I have a suitcase for clothes and a carry-on for books. (“But Danielle, that’s why they created e-Readers!” NO.) My absolute favorite place to read is on the beach. Everything else melts away and you’re just left with the feel of the pages between your fingers and sand between your toes, the smell of salty sea air and fresh paper, and the sound of the waves crashing. It’s my happy place; nothing beats it—clearly, I mean, just listen to how dreamily I talk about it. I know I’m not the only one with this particular love in my life, otherwise authors wouldn’t launch new summertime novels so easily. (Many of these books are considered chick lit for obvious reasons, but that’s what makes them the best for nibbling on during a sunny afternoon.) When I take a glance at the bookcase in my bedroom, I can pinpoint specific vacations just based on the book spines. Below are a handful of favorites and my recommendations to anyone in need of a good beach read this season.

A Trip to the Beach by Melinda & Robert Blanchard
Read on a Carnival cruise, 2007

jpeg-4I don’t read many nonfiction books, but this one intrigued me. It’s the true story of a husband and wife team who decide to abandon mainland living to open the restaurant of their dreams on Anguilla and spend their days living on “island time.” It’s all steel drums and palm trees until a hurricane turns their lives upside down. Don’t read on an empty stomach; the Blanchards write with recipe descriptions so vivid, you can almost taste the words. Continue reading

Five Fave Vaca Spots

This has nothing to do with pop culture, but so what?
I’m in a summer-y mood, so here, read about my favorite vacation spots.


Screen shot 2014-06-11 at 11.09.04 AM

OK, technically not a “spot,” but I could cruise every single summer and love it; I wouldn’t even care to leave the ship, making it kind of qualify. As long as I’m out on the water (and in the Caribbean), I’m good. They just so happen to have the added bonus of bringing me to a handful of tropical islands in the span of one week. Next summer will mark my 7th time cruising and I cannot wait. My first was when I was only four and a half; we boarded The Big Red Boat, back when it was still owned and operated by Disney (1985-1993). In 2000, we boarded the then two-year-old Disney Magic—best cruise of our lives, to this day; Disney Cruise Line is just on a whole other level, plus it’s an unforgettable combo of numbers 1 and 2 here—and we have since been on three Carnival ships and what we affectionately refer to as the “tugboat cruise” (long story). Next year we’ll finally try out Royal Caribbean, the cruise line that has long been touted as the best by anyone we ask. I’m not sure what it is about these giant vessels that I love so much, but I do know that some of the best times of my life have been spent singing “Celebration” and “Hot Hot Hot,” enjoying a delicious meal (and a show!) in a crowded dining room, and feeling the wind in my hair while walking on deck at night. Continue reading

Journos on Film

IMG_3478Photo by Danielle S. Tepper

I spent this past weekend in a state of geeked-out bliss; both days were spent touring the Newseum in Washington D.C. I met the friend who accompanied me in 2008; we worked together on our university newspaper and she’s my go-to girlfriend for nerdy journalism stuff. We drove down bright and early Saturday morning and couldn’t wait to explore six floors of journalistic history. It was interesting and engaging and enlightening and inspiring; the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo gallery was humbling and the 9/11 Memorial gallery was heart-breaking. I came away from the experience just being proud to be included, in any small fraction, in the company of the amazing men and women who have come before me and paved the way for me to sit here and write about how awesome it is to be a journalist. One exhibit that I particularly enjoyed was a video loop of clips from movies throughout the years that depicted reporters and photographers both fictional and historical and it got me thinking about some of my favorite silver (and small) screen characters who struck a chord with me. In no particular order, here’s a handful of the women I’ve watched and thought, “I wish that was me.” Continue reading

Five Favorite Finales

I hate goodbyes. As a couch potato, I never want to see good TV come to an end. As I once said to my sister, “I love TV! It’s like a movie that never ends!” Not entirely true, as even the longest-running shows have to end eventually. May sucks. Not only do you have nothing to look forward to each night, but sometimes favorite shows reach the end of their lifespans for good. Which got me thinking about some of the finales that always punch me in the feels—or make me want to punch the writers. So, in the order in which they broke my heart, here are five finales that I look back on fondly … and one, er, not so much.

(Warning: Serious SPOILERS ahead!)

1. Boy Meets World
May 5, 2000: “Brave New World”


The two-part finale to my all-time favorite show, although disjointed and lacking continuity from a storyline perspective, was a fitting send-off to the TGIF sitcom. It was one of those perfect hour-long clip episodes that took you back through everything you knew you loved about the show. Seven seasons’ worth of favorite moments play at rapid speed, so even though the show ends in tears, at least it has the good form to give you 45 minutes of hysterical laughter first. (The Eric montage is my personal fave—and, of course, the Feeny Call.) My heart starts to pound a little when they step into the classroom because I know what’s coming … and then, the very second the music dips into that three-staccato-note melody and Mr. Feeny tells them to believe in themselves … dream … try … do good … the tears are already flowin’. I cannot handle this finale, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. I learned more from that man than I ever did from any teacher in my own life, so I feel their pain as they say goodbye to him. That final scene is brutal, especially coming from a show that went heavy on the silly humor and light on the heavy stuff for seven seasons. I’m a sobbing mess by the time Cory says, “You’ll always be with us. As long as we live, OK?” (Because truth.) And when Feeny finally says those final words? Oh, it hurts so good.—DT Continue reading