Why Phillipa Soo Simply Rocks

Why Phillipa Soo Simply Rocks

The soprano behind Elizabeth Schuyler.
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Some of the best parts of the musical phenomenon "Hamilton," if not the best parts, are the Schuyler sisters, Angelica, Eliza and Peggy. And anyone who has seen or heard the show will agree on at least one thing: Eliza Schuyler, wife of Alexander Hamilton and woman who established the first private orphanage in New York City, deserved better.

Eliza's personal arc is beautiful and poignant, going from a harmony-rich number with her sisters to an enraged and mourning wife and mother. But I won't spoil anything.

After performing together for nearly two years, Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones (who play Eliza, Angelica and Peggy, respectively), have the same sort of sisterly bond that the Schuyler sisters have in the musical, which is probably symbolized best in their natural and almost instantaneous harmonies they create together on the fly.

What I will spoil, however, is that Soo is incredible and absolutely nails the role.

The Juilliard graduate and Illinois native was playing Natasha Rostova in Dave Malloy's "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812," a musical based on Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace." When Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer and writer of "Hamilton," saw the show and heard her soprano, he asked her to take part in an early reading for "Hamilton." The rest is history: There was no one better for the role.

The rest of the cast loves her, and why wouldn't they? Miranda himself referred to her in a recent Ham4Ham (fun mini-performances with cast members) as a precious cinnamon roll, too good for this world. To validate his point, she created a teaching artists program called The Eliza Project for the kids of New York City, as an example.

It's pretty hard not to be jealous of her. She's performing her art on the world's stage with some of the most amazing actors, singers and rappers on the face of the earth. She recently got engaged to fellow actor Stephen Pasquale, and performed at the White House for Barack and Michelle Obama at their workshop for students.

Jealousy is the wrong word, actually. She deserves the Grammy that the musical received and all the praise that goes with it, and after she worked so hard on the role (her Broadway debut role no less)!

Anybody who's a giant nerd like me can't wait to see what else Phillipa Soo does with her skills, and wishes her happiness with her engagement!

Cover Image Credit: timeout

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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The Burning of Notre Dame

As the world looked on in horror, the 800-year-old cathedral threatened to burn to the ground, but I felt a different sort of fire igniting.

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It's unlikely that this is the first article you've ready about the burning of France's Notre Dame Cathedral. It's a national landmark that has stood, in some form, for 800 years and we, as a world, were forced to watch it burn for nearly a day and a night. It was devastating to a multitude of people, not only the French nation.

I was watching a live stream of the cathedral's burning, stuck between horror and disbelief, when another feeling entirely began to creep over me. I read the headlines sprawled across the top of the screen, "Notre Dame Burns", "Gothic Structure Nearly Lost", "Will They Rebuild?" and started to wonder where we place our value in everyday life. I understand and appreciate the fact that Notre Dame is a treasure from a different time entirely, it holds more history than the whole of younger lands like the United States and Canada combined, but still, doubt circled in my heart and mind.

After the spouting flames had died to their last embers, a torrent of posts began to flood multimedia platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and everything in-between. People began to communicate their relief that the inner sanctuary was unharmed, that the fire hadn't damaged the twin towers, etc. They touted that God had spared dear Notre Dame in her darkest hour. I disagreed, but not for the reasons you might think.

We, as a culture, as a world, place too high a value on historical religious items whilst we shun the Power to which we owe their creation. The historical value of a place like Notre Dame is unmistakable, I pray that the French government will make every effort in her restoration so future generations can understand her place in history. But...I pray, more so, that the tragedy of the burning of Notre Dame serves a higher purpose; to bring those who have fallen away from Christ back from the brink.

We need to understand the value of our religious history, but not allow it to control us. Some might say the burning of Notre Dame was the conflagration of a dying era. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't. I think God used the pillars of fire that emerged from the cathedral's center as a beacon to bring our eyes back to him. Disasters unite nation to nation, people to people, and He wants us to unite in our adoration of Him.

I'm amused when people describe Christ as a softy, a push-over, a weakling. Because I know better. The flames that wreathed Notre Dame were a testament to His strength. Through them, He was shouting, "Come back to me! I am here! Forsake your sinful ways and find redemption in Me!"

I think John the Baptist had the right of it in Luke 3:16, "...I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

Christ is the fire.

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