Broadway Book Chat

Broadway Book Chat: Blake Price

It's Liberation Day.

As an actor, every job you do, you make a new family.  There is something special about theatre and its ability to bring people together in a way that is unlike any other.  I have made so many amazing friends throughout my career, and many of them share my love of books and literature.  Since theatre brings stories to life, I thought I would feature some of my favorite performers (my fabulous friends and cast mates) and see what their bookshelves look like! Welcome to my Broadway Book Chat!

Blake Price

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Currently performing as Curly in Oklahoma at Stages St. Louis!

www.blakewprice.com

instagram: @blakewprice


What shows have you been working on and who do you play?

I was most notably Monty Navarro in the most recent tour of the Broadway show A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which played all over the country from October of 2017 through May of 2018.  But I’m currently checking off another dream role off my list at Stages St. Louis, playing Curly in Oklahoma!

What are you currently reading?

I’m going back and forth with And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, but it’s been a very slow go.  I really enjoyed his first two books: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

What is your favorite book series?

It’s hard not to say Harry Potter, but in an attempt to be different, I’ll say the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series.  I blew through all three books seamlessly, and as I said before I’m usually a really slow reader.

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Who is your favorite author?

Most of Khaled Hosseini’s books are some of my favorites.  I have a very basic library so JK Rowling is obviously up there.  I also love diving into a good memoir or interview-based novel like Judd Apatow’s Sick in the Head.  Or revisiting George Orwell’s 1984, which I read in high school.  It’s a little too poignant nowadays, so it hits pretty close to home.  Home being America and its new obsession with fascism.  Let’s just say it didn’t make riding the subway in NYC any less stressful.

What book inspires you and why?

I love a good acting self-help book.  The Actor and the Target by Declan Donnellan was a game changer for me.  It revamped the way I approached character work and my own process and blocks in all aspects of my work.  I highly recommend it for any performer looking for a new outlook and a practical approach to their work.  Even more important is the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.  It’s one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read.  It’s basically an ass kicking thrown into less than 200 pages with an emphasis on overcoming any and every thing that keeps you from achieving your true purpose, as an artist or otherwise.  It challenges you and is 100% upfront with you about its strong opinions.  Not everything in the book will resonate, it even includes a forward from another author that disagrees with the entire final portion of the book, but the sentiment and practical approach cannot be denied.  Read this book if you’re a person with any type of aspiration… Seriously.

Which literary character would you like to play and why?

This could go a million ways.  I’ve had feedback from more experienced readers who’ve told me I should play the infamous Dr. H.H. Holmes from Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City.  I did play one murderous character based on the 1906 novel Isreal Rank:  The Autobiography of a Criminal which was then turned into the 2014 Tony Award-winning musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.  I played Monty Navarro, who comically knocks off 8 of his family members to become the Earl of Highhurst.  The book is a dark comedy, but nowhere near as fun and enjoyable as the musical.  If you see it playing anywhere near you, buy your tickets immediately.

If you could be friends with any of the characters you have played, who would it be and why?

I played Billy Bigelow a couple years ago, and part of me wishes I could’ve helped him through his problematic relationship with Julie Jordan.  It’s a musical with a stigma and a musical that’s disliked because more often than not, it’s done incorrectly.  Like bad Shakespeare, it has a way of leaving audiences with a sour taste in their mouths.  Sweeny Todd is another gentleman I’d like to be there for.  I’d rather avoid murderous and violent folks, but growing up in the emasculating sports world, I’ve had experience helping gents get in touch with their sensitive sides.  It’s okay to be a man (straight or not) and enjoy singing, dancing, dressing nice, watching musicals, shopping, embracing love from both women AND men.

What book would you like to see turned into a musical/movie/play?

Many of the books I’ve read HAVE been made into movies.  And self-help books and acting technique books would make for real masturbatory work.  Which, I mean, there’s a place for it.  But Khaled Hosseini’s second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, would make for a very poignant film in our current era of #MeToo and #TimesUp.  It follows three women and their place in Afghan society.  It spans various points in the latter half of the 20th century, but it really exemplifies an immense amount of strength that women in a much more conservative society have to have in order to endure and overcome adversity.  It puts out own society in perspective and helped me look at the way I treat the women in my life in various aspects.  It’s important that we find ways to take a step back and look at how responsible we are when interacting with the people in our lives.

76401What book is next on your reading list?

Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.  I’ve always been enamored by those classics that I never got to read or had to read when I was “too cool to care”.  This is one I’ve always known about but never took the time to sit down with.  It’s one of the best stories for retelling the brutal relocation by our own government, stripping any and all tribes of their power and land for no other reason than greed.  I’m excited to give this one a hearty read.  I’m also apparently into anti-establishment books that also give me anxiety.  Go figure.

What is your favorite show you’ve been a part of and why?

Each one has given me the opportunity and tools to grow as a man and an artist.  Each one carries a newfound respect for myself and the artists and world around me.  A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder taught me that I could do literally anything- because my character was onstage for 95% of the show, singing all sorts of patter and operatic turns with highly energetic physical movement on a schedule that no other Monty who has ever played the role has had to endure.  Billy Bigelow in Carousel taught me how to use text that reads one way to be delivered another.  Its format is outdated, and I think the intention for the character is lost when the way he’s written is so aggressive.  The only way the show works is if the audience inherently roots for him- which means the actor playing him MUST show us his capacity for love in the iconic Bench Scene (“If I Loved You”) and that’s not just singing pretty.  Julie has to be seen as an equal and most of the time, she’s bowled over by the actor playing Billy.  I also did a play called Canine Mutiny Court-Martial a couple years back in Arrow Rock, MO at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre that was one of the worst selling shows they’ve ever had.  However; it got the most positive email responses of any they’ve ever put up as well.  The cast was beyond stellar.  It was an all-male courtroom drama about a naval captain, who may or may not have lost his composure during a storm, and his second in command is forced to commit mutiny to save the ship.  I’ve never seen a more efficient dissection of a script than this production with only the two lawyers who stood, and every other character sitting.  I was also the youngest in the cast with an entire testimony to carry, and each veteran actor I interacted with treated me as an equal.  It was the first time I began to realize that even if I’m standing face to face with the likes of Morgan Freeman, Bernadette Peters, or Daniel Day-Lewis, I should see myself as no less or no more than their equal.  In whatever moment that is, as two or three or twenty storytellers on the same stage or screen, we are equals.


I feature a new performer every month! I would love some suggestions for questions you would like to ask, or things you want to know!  Leave them in the comments and I will add them to future interviews! Thanks to dear friend Blake for sharing with us! ❤

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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

ARC August Review: The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy

25781691Summary: 16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way.

Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.


*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review*

My Thoughts: I so wanted to love this book.  It had everything that I love about high fantasy, and yet something was missing.  This book moves fast.  Too fast.  There was never enough time to establish a scene or a relationship, and all of the action felt very rushed.  A lot happens in this book, and while the concept and plot are entertaining and engaging, I needed more development to become fully invested.  Because of the speed of events, I didn’t believe any of the relationships, be it friendly or romantic, and I wasn’t able to fully grasp the vast world in this book.  There was no relationship or character development, very little world building or explanation of the systems of magic in place.  As far as the characters go, I hated the heroine, Aurora.  She was weak, whiny, pathetic, and moronic.  I constantly wanted to scream at her when she would go do ANOTHER stupid thing, against all advice and common sense.  She constantly had to be rescued, which would have been fine if she grew from that and actually had a character arc, but she doesn’t really.  The rest of the characters were there to support and guide her, but all they did was tell her it was okay, and never gave her any resistance or ACTUAL support.  I think I would have liked the supporting characters more if we had more time to establish their depth.  I loved the idea of  her love interest, Rafe’s, character but all of a sudden she was in love with him with nothing behind it at all.  I can’t even call it insta-love.  One moment she has a crush, and the next she has madly fallen for him.  It just doesn’t make sense and there isn’t much to support their relationship.  There were some really nice moments in the plot, and the ideas had SO much potential.  It left off in a cliff hanger, and I admit that I am intrigued to see where the story is going to go.  I just wish that the development of the characters and events matched and supported the very exciting plot, because it has a lot potential to be an amazing story.

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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

ARC August Review: The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

37007910Summary: Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

My Thoughts: This book caught my eye immediately on Netgalley because I love witches and the 1800’s.  The cover was so beautiful, I had to see what it was holding on the inside.  With Fox’s writing, I was immediately transported to the world of Lydia and her family.  The dark, creepy, and Gothic atmosphere of this novel is perfection.  In fact, the atmosphere was my favorite thing about this book.  I also really liked the characters.  They were multi-dimensional and their relationships were so interesting and complicated, especially the relationship between Lydia and her sister, Catherine.  While I really liked and rooted for Lydia, Catherine was the most interesting character and I only wish we could have learned more about her.  The novel starts out with a secret scandal involving Catherine, which sets the mood for the rest of the story, and keeps you guessing as to what she could have done that was so disgraceful.  Their sisterly relationship is full of toxicity, and yet Lydia still feels a sense of duty to her blood.  The plot almost felt secondary to the characters and atmosphere.  It was pretty slow moving, and I expected there to be a lot more magic and supernatural elements.  We don’t really get to see much of Lydia’s abilities until the second half, and up until then there isn’t that much action.  There was a lot of build up, and I didn’t think the release at the end was big enough after how long we had waited.  I wanted more excitement and more magic.  The love story was sweet, and I thought the pace of it worked really well.  There were a couple plot twists and elements that I really enjoyed, but all of them seemed small and I wish we would have had a grander plot to go with the incredible atmosphere and intriguing characters.

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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

ARC August Review: The Canary Club by Sherry D. Ficklin

cover117283-mediumSummary: “Bad Luck” Benny is a fella from the wrong side of the tracks. Recently released from jail, he has vowed to keep his head down and stay out of trouble. But he also needs to care for his ailing sister and the rest of his struggling family, and he’ll do anything to make that happen—even if it means taking a position with a notorious crime boss. He soon finds himself in over his head—and worse still—falling for the one dame on earth he should be staying away from.

Masie is the daughter of a wealthy gangster with the voice of an angel and gun smoke in her veins. Strong-willed but trapped in a life she never wanted, she dreams of flying free from the politics and manipulation of her father. A pawn in her family’s fight for control of the city, and with a killer hot on her heels, she turns to the one person who just might be able to spring her from her gilded cage. But Masie is no angel, and her own dark secrets may come back to burn them both.

Two worlds collide in this compelling story of star-crossed lovers in gritty prohibition-era New York.

My Thoughts: I don’t know what it is, but there is something about the Roaring 20’s that always gets me.  There is such a dark glamour that I can’t get enough of.  I found this book on Netgalley when I was doing the musical Bullets Over Broadway, which is also about 1920’s gangsters, and I knew I had to read it.  I was not disappointed.  I really enjoyed this book.  It immersed me into the dark world of mob life in the 1920’s and it was so entertaining.  I liked the two main characters, Benny and Masie, right away and I loved their chemistry together.  There were a bunch of interesting side characters as well, like Masie’s brother and his girlfriend, and Vinny, Masie’s fathers hit man.  While Vinny certainly was an antagonist in the story, “the life” as they call it, was the biggest one.  It was the main obstacle for everyone involved, and it was really interesting to see each different character struggle with their place in that world.  The plot is engaging, but I wish it would have been a little meatier.  I was very much invested in these characters and the world, so I wanted more.  The ending seemed a little too convenient, and I was hoping for a little more of a dramatic explosion.  Still, it was a super quick read and I was definitely entertained by what did happen.   There was a set up for another book, which made me excited, and I look forward to seeing what is going to happen next!

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Books to Pull You Out of a Reading Slump

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So, I have been participating in #ARCAugust and it has been going really well.  However; last week was a SUPER crazy week for me, and I ended up taking a week off from blogging and my reading slowed down a lot.  Now I am trying to get back into my stride, but I’m struggling a little.  This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is: 10 Books to Pull You Out of a Reading Slump.  This came at a perfect time for me personally, as it is helping to bring me out of both my reading AND blogging slump!


Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

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I recently started a re-read of this series, and it never fails to bring me out of whatever bad mood I’m in.

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

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This series is so fast paced and well written, that I can’t see anyone not being sucked into this world.

Dan Brown Books

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Dan Brown’s books are always so quick and exciting, which makes them the perfect thing to jump start your reading.  I have this one sitting on my self, and I can’t wait to get to it.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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Another favorite of mine, this book is so much fun and unputdownable.

The Illuminae Series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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These books are some of the most thrilling things I have ever read.  They’re also super quick and will get your blood pumping!

Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi

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I love these characters, and the villain alone is worth the read.

Kristin Hannah Books

Literally anything by Kristin Hannah fills my soul, but these 4 are my favorites.

Kate Morton Books

Kate Morton has quickly become one of my favorite authors, and her books can always bring me back to my love for reading.

Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris

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I just love Sookie Stackhouse.  These books are so quick and entertaining.  The perfect thing to amp up your reading.

Meg Cabot Books

Meg Cabot is my first love, and without fail her books always get me out of my funks.  She also has a TON of books and series, so its easy to find one that fits your mood!

 

What books help bring you out of a reading slump? Do you agree with my choices? Let me know in the comments ❤

 

Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

ARC August Review: Full Circle by Regina Timothy

37706656Summary: Eight years after the 9/11 attacks, Samia-Al-Sayyid an Iraqi immigrant is living a quiet life in New York City after she fled her home to avoid imminent death.

She works hard for her cold, heartless, high-strung boss, loves her seventeen-years-old-son, and cherishes the close friendship she has formed with her best friend Susan.

Nothing can go wrong, or so she thinks – until the estranged brother she left back in Iraqi shows up on her door step. Then she finds herself in a cab, on her way to the hospital to identify her son, a terror suspect who has blown the city, and with it her boss’ husband, and her best friend’s son. With everything lost, she is forced to flee to Iraq where she confronts her past. Will she make peace with her past? Can she get forgiveness for all the damage she has caused?

Full Circle is a contemporary fiction tale of friendship, family, and hope. It explores the devastation of loss, the great capacity to forgive and the lengths our loved ones will go to protect us.


*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review!*

My Thoughts: This is a powerful story.  I went into this book with no idea what to expect, and I was surprised by how invested I became in these character’s lives.  The story follows Samia, an Iraqi immigrant living in America with her son, her best friend Susan, who is maneuvering life as a single mother after the loss of her husband, and their boss, Melisa, a fashion mogul with a brother fighting in Iraq.  The story begins 8 years after the 9/11 attacks in NYC, and we see how the aftermath of this event has affected the lives of these three very different women.  What I loved most about this book, was that it showed all sides of the conflict and didn’t shy away from anything.  It showed a very realistic picture of society and the tense relations in such a turbulent time.  Samia lived a rough life, and I felt sympathy and anger for her situation immediately.  It was a very interesting perspective to read from, especially since I don’t know much about the Iraqi culture.  Some of her story was difficult to read, and definitely brought out some strong emotions in me.  Melisa was not a likeable character at first, but throughout the book you get glimpses into what makes her tick.  Does it make how she treats people acceptable? No, but you understand her pain and it gives her a lot more depth.  Susan’s story is really sad, and just shows how much strength she has.  I know that I would not have had the strength to react to everything in the way Susan does.  I can’t imagine going through what any of these women deal with in this book.  The ending doesn’t tie up the way I expected or wanted for these characters, and I admit that I was a bit frustrated with the way things turned out, but it is haunting and I can understand why it ended this way.  While I loved the plot and was fully engaged in the story and the characters, the writing was a little choppy for me which took me out of it at times.  There were a bunch of grammatical errors and a couple continuity discrepancies that I noticed as well, but overall it was a haunting, different, and emotional story that I fully enjoyed.

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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

ARC August Review: Strange Secrets by Mike Russell

38815196Summary: Discover the mystery of the two-headed rose and many more Strange Secrets in this new collection of extraordinary stories by Mike Russell. ‘It can’t be real.’ ‘But it is.’ Strange Secrets invites you to discover the magical and the marvellous. Startlingly inventive and constantly entertaining, these unique, vital and vividly realised stories will take you to places you have never been before. Strange Secrets is Mike Russell’s third short-story collection.


*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review!  Thank you StrangeBooks and Mike Russell!*

 

My Thoughts: Strange Medicine by Mike Russell was the first review request I ever received after starting my blog a little over a year ago, and I loved it.  It was super weird, emotionally engaging, thought provoking, funny, and sad all at once.  I was really excited to get back to this kooky world of Russell’s when they reached out with Strange Secrets.  Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with this collection of short stories as much as I did with the Strange Medicine.  The stories were interesting, and I love Russell’s voice and writing style, but for some reason I couldn’t get as invested in them.  Most of the stories were a little too strange for me to fully grasp, and I definitely feel like I missed something important.  My favorite story was “Missing Persons” which is about a young girl finding out about death in a society that refuses to talk about it and considers dying to be a shameful act.  I thought it was such an interesting concept and held a harsh mirror up to our society and the things we are taught to value.  Mike Russell is such a special and unique voice and I would love to understand how his brain works and where he comes up with the ideas for his short fiction.  Once again he has opened my mind to a different type of literature from what I normally read, and even though this one was harder for me to connect to, I still got something positive out of the reading experience.

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Monthly Wrap-Ups

July 2018 Wrap-Up

MonthlyWrap - Up

How is it already AUGUST!?  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  July was a busy month for me.  I started a new job at a fitness studio, which means I am now working two jobs, auditioning, and blogging.  The glamorous life of a NYC actress.  Because I have been so busy, this month went by SUPER fast.  I’m enjoying summer in the city (thank god for my air conditioning unit), and I am really excited for my TBR this month.  I have a lot of fun ARC’s that I am excited to get to on my new Kindle Paperwhite, as well as a bunch of back listed books that have been sitting in my room just staring at me for months 🙂


Books Read:

Sorority by Genevieve Sly Crane 

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi 

Wrong in All the Right Ways by Tiffany Brownlee 

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton 

The It Girls by Karen Harper 

The Daughter of the River Valley by Victoria Cornwall 

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part 1 by Audrey Davis 

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part 2 by Audrey Davis 

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part 3 by Audrey Davis 


Favorite Book of the Month:

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Currently Reading:


Challenge Updates:

Goodreads Challenge: 48 of 50 (SO CLOSE)

A to Z Challenge: 13 of 26 (S)

Classics Club Challenge: 4 of 50 (didn’t read any books for this one this month…)


Broadway Book Chat: Joey Simon

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July Reviews

Sorority by Genevieve Sly Crane • Fallen by Lauren Kate • Wrong in All the Right Ways by Tiffany Brownlee • Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton • The Daughter of the River Valley by Victoria Cornwall • The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part 3 by Audrey Davis •

July Posts

Cleaning Up My TBR- Down The TBR Hole #2 • Top 10 Tuesday: Best Books I’ve Read in 2018 So Far • The Summer Reading TagTop 10 Tuesday: Books With Sensory Reading Memories • Top 10 Tuesday: Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype •

 

Reading Challenges

My First ARC August Sign Up and TBR

ARC-August.pngI have been feeling overwhelmed by my TBR lately, JUST in time for this year’s ARC August hosted by Read. Sleep. Repeat.! ARC August is a month-long reading challenge to help and inspire us to get through our pile of Advanced Reader Copies and Review Requests.  This is the first ARC August that I am participating in, and I am hoping that it will hold me accountable and help me get through my list!  I’ll be posting updates, and participating in the Bookish Bingo and readathons (even though the idea of a readathon stresses me out… AHHHH) that they have for this month as well.

My ARC August TBR

 

Wish me luck!