Posted in Writing

Is Regina George the Real MVP of North Shore High?


Disclaimer: This is an extended metaphor.

If you’ve seen the hit movie Mean Girls, you know that protagonist Cady Herron collectively refers to the behavior of her female classmates as “Girl World.” At the beginning of the story, Girl World is in a state of chaos- cattiness, backstabbing, manipulation, you name it. But by the end of the film, as Cady says: “Finally, Girl World was at peace.”

You may wonder how Girl World came to that point, and there could be many correct answers. Was it because Cady and her friends decided to take down the main instigator of the problems, Regina George? Perhaps it happened because Ms. Norbury held the mass intervention in the gymnasium, enabling the students to come clean and heal their wounds. But there’s one other possibility- that Regina herself was the unintentional catalyst. Say what?!

Long story short: For the entire movie, everyone was doing terrible things in secret and behind a smiling veneer (Cady included). When Regina spread the contents of her damning Burn Book, the situation’s true severity came to light, and it was only then that it could be fixed for good.

I’ve felt a similar sentiment in my struggle with cliques of smaller theatre communities. To use a hypothetical example, suppose there is a local actress who repeatedly gets cast in major roles with one company. To me, this is problematic because it would appear that the company has her in mind from the start. They will insist in the audition notice that “all roles are open.” So you mean to say that of EVERY young woman that showed up, NONE came even close to the “repeat offender,” so to speak?

Look, if you’re going to use the same closed pool of actors in every production, like a “troupe,” that is totally fine. In fact, this isn’t that uncommon! But at least own up to it. Don’t waste the time and get the hopes up of people who audition for your shows. It’s not transparent and reflects embarrassingly on your organization.

Maybe, in towns across the United States, somebody ought to call this stuff out. Some thespian should take on the role of Regina George.

(Happy Tony Awards week, everyone!)

Posted in Writing

“Sky Full of Stars” (Theme from…)

by Amanda DeLalla

We were kindred souls
Even with our clearly-set roles
I could tell from your sparkling eyes
How my heart was in for a surprise
In my head
I would remember every word you said
Carved craters on the moon
In my head
Stained like the surface of Mars with red
Giving both life and ruin
(Refrain) And all I see when you’re with me
Is a sky full of stars
Complex as cosmology
And so very far
Maybe one day you’ll understand it
How I might as well be on another planet
Just me where you are in a sky full of stars (End refrain)
Circumstance isn’t kind to me
I know well that this never should be
You’ve got plenty of things to do
I fear nothing when I’m standing with you
All this time
I’ve felt I’m guilty of some awful crime
Floating up on some cloud
All this time
Loving you like this is an endless climb
Loving you ain’t allowed
Take me on a rocket to fly
So I’ll never have to say goodbye
Take me on a rocket to fly
No I never wanna ever have to say goodbye!


Posted in Film and Television

Cinematography Appreciation Post

Okay, so…the technical side of filmmaking went over my head for quite some time. In many ways, it still does. However, I think that may be one of the reasons why I find it so captivating as a medium. In short, the fact that technology and coding can be skillfully manipulated to create a movie is something that’s perpetually magical to me.

One well-known technical aspect is cinematography- how a movie is shot. This is a crucial part of the piece’s creative development, as good cinematographers can use their camera artistry to secure a certain aesthetic for the movie, or perhaps elicit a particular feeling from viewers.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of my favorite Hollywood camerawork…and I’ll share why I find it so effective. (Note: Because I can’t readily embed videos here, we’ll have to settle for GIFs!)


1951: An American in Paris (Alfred Gilks and John Alton) The Gershwin brothers’ musical masterpiece is the standard by which all musical films are judged. From its dynamically-shot street scenes to that glorious 17-minute fantasy ballet, this movie’s cinematography oozes artistry. No matter how many years have gone by, it is still so easy to get enveloped in its dreamlike bubble of a time long gone.


1993: The Piano (Stuart Dryburgh) Bloody hell…if you’d told me that I may someday have an urge to “jump the bones” of Harvey Keitel, I’d have said you were bonkers! But damn, does the camerawork in this love story make him look good! Aside from that, every angle in the movie is finely crafted and feels deliberate, like you’re watching events unfold in real-time. For me, that’s a hallmark of any great period piece.


1998: The Big Lebowski (Roger Deakins) This cult “modern noir” flick from the Coen Brothers is an acquired taste for sure. But I can promise you, man- part of the reason you’ll find that taste is due to the movie’s slick yet dizzying camera antics. You get first-person views from the inside of a bowling ball (seriously) as well as a nice closeup shot of John Turturro’s tongue. Yes…it’s beautiful.


2001: Amelie (Bruno Delbonnel) This colorful romance- which, if a person says they’ve only seen one French film, it’s probably this one- has been called a “true cinematic movie.” That could sound redundant, but what it means is that the film employs every camera trick at its disposal. Thankfully, this was done to incredible results. Viewers are in for a pleasure cruise through Montmartre as well as a firsthand look at its heroine’s psyche.


2003: Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Robert Richardson) The saga of assassin Beatrix “the Bride” Kiddo is a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, and the camerawork won’t let you forget it. The cinematography of both “volumes” in the Bride’s story is remarkable because it presents a tonal shift; we go from hyperactive-samurai-mania in the first to subtle introspection in the second. One thing is certain: the rapidly-changing angles and clever use of perspective enable the camera to almost act as another narrator.


2015: Carol (Edward Lachman) Considering that photography is a major plot point in this movie, it would have been colossally embarrassing if the cinematography were not pitch-perfect. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case, and we got an exquisite-looking period piece with some real pathos. Dramatic closeups of Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara- among other things- highlight the expressiveness of both actors and pull us right into their worlds.

For you, what films got the best cinematographic treatment? Share in the comments!

Posted in Film and Television

The Toughest Roger Rabbit Quiz You’ll Ever Take

…I mean, it will be if you don’t cheat by Googling. Anyway, Robert Zemeckis’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit is quickly becoming one of my favorite films. Every time I watch it, I find something new to admire about it.

The technology used to create the intersected human-and-cartoon worlds of the movie was groundbreaking…and expensive. Fortunately, it all paid off as the project exploded at the box office and won four Academy Awards. Many have even credited it as kicking off the “Disney Renaissance” in the 1990s.

But how much do YOU know about this very important film? See how many of these questions you can answer; for some of them, you’ll need the eagle eye of Private Investigator Valiant!


  1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released in 1988, but (technically speaking) it is a period piece. In what year does the story take place?
  2. Who is the only Disney princess to appear in the movie?
  3. Can you name at least three actors who were considered for the role of Eddie Valiant before Bob Hoskins was cast?
  4. What are the three ingredients of Judge Doom’s “Dip?” (Bonus: Why were these particular chemicals selected?)
  5. In the final sequence, Eddie whips out a weapon known as the “Singing Sword.” What jazz standard does it perform?
  6. Who Framed Roger Rabbit became the second-highest grossing film of 1988. What movie took the top spot?
  7. Who is the very last Toon we see onscreen before the credits roll?
  8. What was so noteworthy about the moment when Eddie is falling from the top floor of a Toontown building?
  9. When Eddie is telling Roger about his brother’s death, he mentions two distinct traits that the murderer had. What were they?
  10. When Judge Doom is searching for Roger in the bar, what common ditty does he recite to lure him out?
Posted in Personals

Welcome to Seb’s.


It has been one year, two months, and two weeks since I saw La La Land in full for the first time. It’s also been that long since I’ve seen it in full, period.

So much has happened in the wake, and yet this movie is still so hard to watch.

The greatest stories just have that effect on you, you know? Furthermore, we all have those moments where we say “I related to that character” or “that part of the movie reminded me of something that happened to me.” But even rarer are the stories that seem to appear at just the right time, and in which you not only see a part of yourself, but a part of your whole life playing out in front of you.

It’s pretty surreal.

One more little detail- when La La Land first booted up in the cinema, and the wonderful “Another Day of Sun” number began, I was convinced that the actors were playing actors on a film set. Giving a nod to old musical films, if you will, within the context of the plot that was about to unfold. But when the song ended and the cast just got back into their cars as if nothing happened…that’s when I realized that there was no tribute here. It WAS that kind of movie. I knew that I was in for a helluva ride.

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you planned. Sometimes an art form crystallizes your feelings better than words alone.

Always and forever, the story goes on.

Posted in Film and Television

Golden Girls Appreciation Post: The Definitive List of the Best Guest Stars

Anyone who knows me knows that The Golden Girls is my favorite television show of all time. (Jerry Seinfeld, I’m real happy for you, Imma let you finish…)

What makes the show so entertaining, for me, is its brilliant balance of pure comedy and serious topics- delivered pitch-perfectly by its iconic cast. (Fun fact: This show, Will and Grace, and All in the Family are the only TV programs in history in which the four lead actors all won Emmy Awards.)

But while everyone’s got a favorite “Girl,” it’s also hard to ignore the smattering of special guests that have appeared on the series. Some of them were so legendary that they just played themselves; others took on roles in the ladies’ lives. In this entry, I’m going to serve up my personal favorite guest appearances on The Golden Girls and describe why I find them so amazing. Allons-y!


NANCY WALKER as Sophia’s sister Angela: “May your shampoo get mixed up with your Preparation H and shrink your head to the size of a mushroom!”

Fabulous Factor: Nancy Walker, a Broadway baby as well as screen staple, was an ideal rival-in-wisecracks for Sophia. They played off one another so well that the character of Angela actually appeared in two episodes: “The Sisters” and the incredibly-titled “Long Day’s Journey into Marinara.”


BURT REYNOLDS as Himself: “Are these your roommates? Which one’s the slut?”

Fabulous Factor: Now I wasn’t alive when The Golden Girls originally aired, but judging by the studio audience’s reaction, it was a shock when the real Burt Reynolds showed up at the women’s Miami house. Making things even more amusing is that he’s there to go out with Sophia, much to the others’ envy.


SONNY BONO as Himself: “It’s good to be mayor!”

Fabulous Factor: If you really want to get technical, the beloved singer-songwriter appeared twice…although, the first time around, he was being impersonated by Sophia (with Dorothy as Cher!) for a talent show. In the episode “Mrs. George Devereaux,” he competes with Lyle Waggoner for Dorothy’s heart and hilarity ensues.


GEORGE CLOONEY as Officer Bobby: “Nice touch, but I work alone…”

Fabulous FactorBefore he was a Hollywood heartthrob, an Oscar-winning producer, a sophisticated actor…George Clooney was just a dark-haired young punk who got cast in an episode of The Golden Girls. “To Catch a Neighbor” is an interesting episode on many levels, but the appearance of a young Clooney is the true cherry on top.


DEBBIE REYNOLDS as Trudy: “Handful of rice, handful of dirt…the only difference is that after a funeral, it’s okay to date!”

Fabulous Factor: What kind of older-woman-glorifying sitcom would it be without an appearance by one of the greatest dames of American cinema? In the two-part episode “There Goes the Bride,” Reynolds plays a serial widow who almost moves into the house after Dorothy almost remarries her ex-husband Stan.

HONORABLE MENTIONS! Mario Lopez, Julio Iglesias, Lois Nettleton, Mickey Rooney, and Jack Gilford.

Posted in Film and Television

Take Me to Heaven: My Lifelong Ministry of SISTER ACT

I’m not dead! In fact, dear readers, I am feeling great. On Sunday, I gave my own presentation at the 2018 BroadwayCon: being an Aspie in the theatre world. (It was like a restructuring of my 54 Below show.) To my surprise, the panel was a great success- my audience was engaged in the topic and had a really good time. It felt amazing to use my passion and my craft to help people smile and learn. The dream is back!

But, I digress. Today’s post is an ode to a movie that, as a Catholic schoolgirl, has threaded itself in and out of my life. And no matter how many times I watch it, it never fails to be funny and uplifting. I’m talking about Sister Act, folks.


This 1992 musical comedy, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith, Harvey Keitel, Kathy Najimy, and Mary Wickes, follows Reno lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier (Goldberg). After witnessing a murder by her gangster boyfriend (Keitel), she is put into Witness Protection and takes refuge in a convent. Deloris butts heads with the Mother Superior (Smith) when she takes over the nuns’ choir and teaches them rockin’ new arrangements of praise to the Lord.

The film has seemed to pop up at the most random moments in my life. In high school, my glee club’s “signature performance” was a medley from Sister Act, complete with stylized hand movements. The nuns at our on-campus convent loved it. In college, I went on a class trip to see the Broadway musical adaptation; I don’t think I’ll ever forget the giant Virgin Mary in the finale, sparkling and spinning like a disco ball.

As a Catholic- or, a member of an organization that gets a lot of grief- I particularly appreciate the movie as a beacon of what my faith is really about. It isn’t about fire and brimstone…but joyful noise and being good to others, no matter who they are.

I read a fascinating (and somewhat sad) article that the original screenwriter of Sister Act envisioned the lead role for Bette Midler, and he went through so much development hell with the studio that he eventually withdrew from the project. To this day, he doesn’t consider the finished piece to be his work and has not watched it.

Posted in Film and Television

Happy 30th Anniversary, MOONSTRUCK!

As far as I’m concerned, Moonstruck is one of the finest comed- no, roman- no, FILMS, period…ever made.


It really has it all: a wintry NYC setting, a moving story, plenty of smart humor, Italian-inspired music, and a phenomenal cast giving knockout performances. Here’s my one problem, ironically…the movie is so perfect that I find it difficult to watch. Why? Well, because it makes me feel a lot of things.

You guys must know by now that I’m a sucker for a good Puccini aria. Combine that with thoughtful, hard-hitting love commentary and I’m a dead woman. Honestly, it’s hard for me to adequately put into words how good Moonstruck is. Maybe it’s because its screenplay was written by John Patrick Shanley- a bona fide Broadway baby- and its direction done by the great Norman Jewison.

Maybe it’s because of Cher and Olympia Dukakis’s Oscar-winning performances, in which they nail their characters with perfect line delivery and emotional introspection. (Also, this might be Nicolas Cage’s only film that you can’t poke fun at.)

Or perhaps it’s due to the fact that it follows a stereotype-free Italian family in the Big Apple…something I only rarely get to connect with.

Whatever the source of its magic, it’s impossible to deny that Moonstruck is a very special movie. And I couldn’t be happier that 30 years after its debut, it is still being celebrated by cinephiles, Italians, and hopeless romantics alike. Want to know a secret wish of mine? That the story will come to Broadway someday, with Shanley writing the libretto…and myself penning the song lyrics. Mr. Shanley, if you’re reading this, don’t forget about me!

(Check out this fun fantasy list of potential leads for a musical adaptation. Also, if you’ll be in the Astoria area tomorrow, attend this very cool screening…I wish I could!)

Posted in Film and Television

Spotlight: A Talk with Michael Anderson of Purple Cloud Entertainment

Here on the blog, we’ve made it our mission to bring the very best in theatre/film/art to the forefront. That, my dear friends, is why this post exists!

Michael Robert Anderson and I first met during a production of The Heiress on Staten Island. He was Morris Townsend and I was the maid, Mariah. He’s a real Renaissance man: actor, writer, director, filmmaker, singer. And he is also the head honcho of his own company, Purple Cloud Productions.

Their latest project is a short film- Major Key– which is set to premiere at Staten Island’s Atrium Cinema on December 5th. Mike was kind enough to sit down with me over the weekend to talk about his movie and give a little behind-the-scenes info!


Amanda: So Mike, I know you’ve been into filmmaking for quite some time now, but is Major Key your first feature? If not, what was?

Mike: Major Key is in fact a short film- clocking in at 25 minutes. However, it is NOT my first. My first film was titled The Colors of Perception– which was a 45 minute short about a young man who dealt with disabilities/perceptions of life/love/family/etc.

Amanda: As we know, the “war love story” genre has been done a lot over the years. What makes Major Key different and what inspired you to tell this story?

Mike: I’d like to think this genre hasn’t really been as tackled as many people believe. But regardless, I think Major Key differs from the rest because of the main focus being based around music. Major Key is a story that’s surrounded by love, tension, action, and humility. At its heart, the short is an uplifting story about the power of connection through music during tumultuous times. The film centers on an American band of brothers in the height of WWII who are hosted by a German family. Our lead soldier, John Key connects with the German host’s daughter Ilse Brauhn over their mutual love of jazz music. The rest, as they say, is history.

Amanda: What was it like to both write the screenplay and star in the finished product? Was it a difficult task?

Mike: It was my worst nightmare on top of my biggest dream! I had a blast and wouldn’t trade it for the world… but then again, I could’ve used a lot more coffee and downtime to prepare myself on the acting aspect of things. As you can imagine it’s tough to wear all of the hats at once- especially when you have to switch them instantaneously. But again, I’ll treasure that feeling forever.

Amanda: I’m assuming the film was not shot in a studio lot. Where did you go on-location, and did that factor into the actors you wound up casting?

Mike: The location was actually found by our incredible production manager, Jessica Davies, who recommended the odd idea of AirBNB. But lo and behold, she found us a beautiful early 19th century home in the middle of the woods in Millville, New Jersey- where we shot for a full week with no interruptions, beautiful weather and an incredible cast and crew! In regards to the casting side of it, I cast the best of what I saw. I cast the people who I KNEW could bring it all to the table. Location wasn’t a factor in who I got. In fact, the home was the LAST thing we found in the pre-production days, even after casting it.

Amanda: One more thing! What’s next for Purple Cloud Productions? Are you taking this project further, starting something new, or both?

Mike: Purple Cloud Entertainment is always making work. We just love to create. It’s a passion that drives us fay in and day out. Without this craft, without art, I would be no one! So to answer your question- there’s ALWAYS something going on. We’ve got our webseries out now, “Pipsqueak & Stretch”, which can be found on YouTube. And another project that we shot for a dear friend is in post-production, AND I may or may not have something very special in the works moving into 2018! But you’ll have to keep up with us to see!

Hungry for more? Check out Major Key‘s official webpage.
Posted in Film and Television

Spotlight: “Murder Porn,” Parte Trois

“I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed, I get along with the voices inside of my head.”

Water we doing here?!

In all seriousness, though, I never thought I’d be writing another “murder porn” piece so soon, but last night’s episode of American Horror Story necessitated it.

But first, a disclaimer: I am a feminist. I believe in equality for men and women. I believe it’s closer than ever before and is still somewhat far off.

What I saw on television last night, I believe, is detrimental to the feminist cause. In a nutshell- from plot convolutions unknown to me, we got Lena Dunham playing Valerie, a deranged man-hater (and real historical figure) looking to suppress the male gender through revolutionary acts of gratuitous violence (shocker).


It’s clear that this season of American Horror Story is hyperbolically “ripped from the headlines,” addressing topics such as groupthink, racism, and the 2016 Presidential election. Because women’s rights had become a component of this situation, they were bound to make an appearance as well.

I spoke to my boyfriend recently about how to system needs to be “fixed, not overthrown.” As I see it, a coup d’état mandates violence, which is never the answer. And in an age where people seem to be on the brink of “snapping,” so to speak, equating violence with female empowerment- as Dunham’s character is doing- is hugely misguided.

And, frankly, she seemed to be enjoying every minute of acting out this most twisted feminist fantasy: calling men “scum,” reigning over them, physically harming them if they do not submit.

Did I imply that Lena Dunham is a “bad feminist?” I didn’t say that, did I?

Look, I get that a lot of Americans are angry by the current state of our country. I’m upset too. But men aren’t the enemies of feminism, and to present such an idea is dangerous to the true meaning of the cause. And, to present the idea on an extremely popular TV show makes it widely available as fodder for those who don’t outwardly support equality. “Y’all crazy feminists think women should be superior to men; I done saw it on the tube!”

Not good, Ryan Murphy. Not good.