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Friday
December 06th, 2019

lea michele christmas in the city spotlight pageLea Michele in a scene from her “Christmas in New York” video from her recently released “Christmas in the City” album. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The Christmas season is upon the world now and that means an (almost) onslaught of Christmas music being blasted in local stores and out of cars driving in traffic. Like many people, I’ve been searching for some Christmas music to listen to in order to help get in the holiday spirit and recently, I came across Lea Michele’s new Christmas album “Christmas in the City” on YouTube. Having been a fan of hers during her time on “Glee,” I knew I’d probably be in for a good time jamming out to her renditions of some of my favorite Christmas songs. 

But ultimately, my expectations ended up being blown completely out of the water – in a good way, of course. 

First off, a ton of praise has to be given to Michele’s vocals because they are absolutely outstanding. She has a great, clear soprano tone and she can also belt it with the best of them – sometimes within the same song on this album. I also love how she doesn’t strain herself or try too hard to reach the notes in the songs and lets her natural abilities shine through. Overall, her voice is perfect for all the Christmas songs featured on this CD and she sounds great on every single song, making it an overall very enjoyable album to listen to for this Christmas season. I would say my favorite vocal moment from Michele comes at the end of “O Holy Night” because the high notes she reaches sound absolutely beautiful, so much so that I almost cried just because of that song’s ending. I also really enjoyed her duet with Cynthia Erivo on “Angels We Have Heard On High,” their voices harmonized so well together and it just sounded absolutely amazing. And since that’s one of my overall favorite Christmas songs, I was very happy to hear such a great rendition of it. 

frozen 2 spotlight page reviewElsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) discovers some new powers in this scene from the recently released “Frozen 2.” Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The past couple weeks have been a little long for me with everything I’ve had to take care of, so this weekend I decided to take a couple hours away from my apartment and go to the movies, ultimately deciding to see “Frozen 2.” I’ve been a fan of the original since seeing it with my mom and younger sister shortly after it was released – the music was fun and catchy, the animation was stunning and the vocal performances were great. So when I heard the official confirmation that a sequel would happen, I was excited. 

The sequel takes place a few years after the events of the original and the story follows our favorite Arendelle residents Queen Elsa, her sister Princess Anna, and their friends Kristoff, Olaf the snowman and Sven the reindeer, who embark on a journey beyond their kingdom to discover the origin of Elsa's magical powers and the source of a mysterious voice who has been calling out to her. 

Much like the original, the animation in “Frozen 2” is absolutely stunning. The colors are extremely bright and vibrant, which is great since much of the film is set around the autumn season, and the scenes throughout the movie where Elsa is using her powers are gorgeously drawn and are total eye candy. Animation-wise, I would say my favorite parts of the movie were Elsa’s two big songs “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself,” because they are both just so well done and the level of skill it took to put together those particular scenes deserves recognition. The scenes that take place in the enchanted forest our heroes travel to are also very well drawn and just pop on screen. 

macys thanksgiving day parade spotlight pageThese floats make their way through the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Catch this year’s parade Thanksgiving morning. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Thanksgiving is coming up only next week, and one of my favorite traditions on Thanksgiving Day is watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on TV. It always sets the tone for the day for me and it’s always a good way to start Thanksgiving because there’s just so much to watch throughout the parade. 

So for this week, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the things I’m particularly excited about for this year’s parade. The parade always has something for everyone and I think this year should be just as awesome as the past 90-plus years. 

 

Performers

One of the parts of the parade that’s always extremely diverse is the performers set to be part of the parade festivities. This year’s parade, from what I’ve read online, will feature a very diverse and talented group of performers including Broadway veterans Idina Menzel, Lea Michele and Billy Porter, new “Blue’s Clues” host  Josh Dela Cruz, Natasha Bedingfield, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, and country artists Chris Young and Chris Janson. With so much diversity in these performers, there’s going to be a lot of great music for the parade audiences there in New York to hear. 

I’m also excited to see performances from the Broadway shows “Ain’t Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations,” “Beetlejuice,” “Hadestown” and “Tina - The Tina Turner Musical.” I always look forward to the show performances because not only are the casts of the shows ridiculously talented, there’s a good chance I get introduced to some new musicals to listen to in the process. The shows are also a great lead-in to the Radio City Rockettes, which I have fond memories of attempting to mimic back in my much younger days. The final part of the performances I’m looking forward to (and this comes from my many years participating in band) are all the marching bands and other similar groups that will be making their way to 42nd Street. These bands are always super talented and it always brings back some great nostalgia of my days in high school/college band. 

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