Fast Fashion

John Oliver did a show this week about where our modern clothes come from on this week’s episode of Last Week Tonight, touching on many points I’m very passionate about.

In the era of fast fashion made overseas by child labor, I believe vintage fashion provides an answer to so many moral dilemmas in modern clothing. For every outraged newscast and law created to stop this, large companies keep finding another way to shrug it off. And what alternative do people have? I believe the only way to disrupt these terrible industry practices is to create and support our own ideal.

Before overseas sweatshop clothing, America took pride in creating quality, stylish garments that last. Many of these garments are in great condition and deserve to be worn again, especially given our other option.

We want to continue this homespun tradition with reproduction vintage clothing made right here in Oakland, created by people skilled in their trade, working for a living wage. I wear a handful of reproduction pieces made in California, and it’s the best feeling to know I’m directly helping sustain our local economy, often directly benefiting people I care about.

The most environmentally conscious fashion choice lies with vintage clothing. By wearing vintage styles, We’re buying clothing made and sold in the USA. Dressing in stylish vintage fashion has lead to daily compliments from people passing by on the street, which is an amazing experience I want to share with everyone at OverAttired.

I’m proud to say I wear clothing made and sold in the United States. I want you to be proud of the same thing.

Please support my dream to bring this feeling to you, by clicking the image below. We’re nearly 1/3 of the way to our goal, and I would really appreciate anything you can do to support us with a Pledge and/or Sharing the Kickstarter with friends.

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The Rite of Spring Ball Review

IMG_3289 Yeah, this is happening. I’m reviewing my own Ball. This review is comprised in large part from praise/comments/criticisms I’ve received. If you have anything to add, please contact me. Overall, the Ball went extremely well! I had a lot of fun, and everyone else seemed to have a lot of fun too! Brassworks were great. I got a lot of compliments on their music, which really pleased me because Frank and I worked pretty hard on it, and made some changes from the standard Gaskell structure:

  • I introduced about 1/3 more waltzes. I feel like we never get enough waltzes at a Gaskell.
  • To accomplish this, I had to remove some dances, of course. I cut down (but did not eliminate) the number of Gallops, Schottisches, and set dances.
  • I also removed the opening ‘Rule Britania’, because The Gaskell Ball has more of a legitimate British historical theme, and it seemed appropriate to not copy Every Single Part of a Gaskell Ball. We closed with ‘God Save The Queen’, and it was great to have The Queen and Prince on hand to trot up on stage (thanks Jessica and Gregory!), but I think we’re going to remove it next time, for the same reason. I’m open to suggestions of alternate ways to Open and Close the Ball (aside from the obvious Grand March and Last Waltz, both of which I’m certainly keeping).
  • Mazurka Waltzes were played faster (~160bpm), to enable “real Mazurka” dancing. I loved this, as I love to Mazurka. I’m sure this made the “Gaskells Mazurka” more difficult to do at that speed, but I haven’t heard any complaints. Real Mazurka is beautiful. Please let me teach you.
  • More “modern” music was added in, consistent with the style of a Grand Victorian Ball. In addition to selections allowed by Gaskells in the past (Congress of Vienna, Bohemian National Polka, etc.) The Brassworks played music written just after the turn of the century, such as Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite #2, and recent compositions from the new Cinderella movie, beautifully arranged by Frank Davis.

We used Gaskells Punch, because I wanted the familiarity, and because I really like Gaskells Punch, though it’s truly the most complicated Punch recipe I’ve seen. The Rite of Spring Ball had an official attendance of 101, which is one over my publicly-self-imposed number we’d need to break even and do this all over again. Despite attendance of 101, I still lost about $40, because events cost more than they appear to cost (not to mention the volunteered time spent). THANK YOU ALL for coming, and enjoying that magical, beautiful evening with me! It was my dream come true! SPECIAL THANKS:

  • Monica Lenk, Gregory Seeley, Shannon Valerian, and Frank Davis. I couldn’t have run this Ball without you. And now that we’ve gotten through it, I mean that more than ever.
  • Sarah Kramer, Laurie Tavan, and Louise Smythe “donated” event admission, even though they couldn’t attend, because they wanted it to succeed so badly. Thank You with all my heart. We wouldn’t even be talking about another Ball without your selfless kindness. 

So where does this leave us? We’re putting on another Ball! It is my honor and privilege to announce A Midsummer Night’s Ball on July 18th! Visit the page for more details! What I’ve learned:

  • I need to raise the door price by $5 (while leaving the advance price at $20). This small amount of added revenue will enable us to do the rest of these bullets.
  • I need more volunteers. Like twice as many. We really under-estimated the volunteers we’d need, especially on snacks/punch duty. I’m fixing this.
  • I’d like to add Tea. I really like how The Gaskell Ball used to be an evening of dancing and socializing. I think I got 100 Dancers at the Spring Ball, and I want to encourage the Social aspect too. Tea seems like a good start. I don’t do anything half way, so if you know where I can buy teacups and saucers in large quantity for cheap, I’d love to know! There will not be tea bags.
  • I’d like to pay the band more. They’re great.
  • I need to pay the venue more. I negotiated a slightly cheaper rate for the Spring Ball, which I don’t get to keep. And I would like to keep the venue.

The biggest & best thing you can do to show your support for events of this nature is to back my Kickstarter, so I can keep putting them on in the future!

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7 Days In

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My life has been completely taken over by this Kickstarter.

Whatever I thought a few months ago about how much effort this would take has been exceeded by an amount so large, I’m uncomfortable even thinking about it.

We made some early/amateur mistakes that have since been corrected

Metrics:

As of this writing, we have raised a little over 25% of our goal, from 115 backers. It’s “middle of the road” – it isn’t fantastic, but it certainly isn’t terrible either. I’m devoting all free time to making this successful.

Our video, which is essentially my favorite thing I’ve ever produced, has only been viewed 800 times. I love this video, and I’m extremely thankful to Paul and Justin of Zoetic Labs for their work producing it. I’m even more surprised that 85% of people who watched our adorable video haven’t backed the Kickstarter. My biggest, most important question is for that 85% – if you watched our video and didn’t donate, why? Was it not cute enough? Were the rewards not appealing? I really want to know. If you’re in that 85%, please let me know. No judgement.

To the 15% who have backed my dream, all I want to do is give you a big hug.

Of those 115 glorious backers, 100 have been our friends (thank you all so much!) and 15 have essentially been from referrals from friends – friends-of-friends who checked out our Kickstarter when a friend shared it.

Our Kickstarter has been shared by our fabulous friends about 35 times, or about 1/3 of the friends who donated. We would really love the other 2/3 of our friends who have backed our Kickstarter to share our campaign too! It would be a huge help in making this campaign successful!

Promotions:

I’ve got a whole Promotional Calendar devoted to not missing any chances at promotion, while not bombarding you with a new promotion too many times in a day. If you have a promotional idea for our Kickstarter, I’d love to hear it! And if you know anyone who works at Kickstarter, I’d REALLY love an introduction!

I’ve also just updated the OverAttired Calendar with more fun local events, including our new OverAttired Gentlemen’s Social Club on Saturday!

Speaking of Promotions, TODAY ONLY we have a ST. GEORGE DAY SPECIAL!
Never heard of St. George Day? It’s totally a thing! They have feasts and Kickstarter sales!
TODAY ONLY The OverAttired Society membership at HALF PRICE! Still a full year! What a deal!
If you’ve already backed at another reward level and want to add the OverAttired Society Membership, just add $50 to your existing pledge TODAY, and we will take care of the rest!


Please contribute and share! 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/877339113/overattired-vintage-fashion

It’s been a wild ride so far, and we’re just getting started!

11 DAYS OUT

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Let me tell you that 11 days feels like a Very Short amount of time when launching the biggest undertaking of your life.

Above is the mostly-final logo we’ve come up with after a wonderfully productive meeting today with Zoetic.

I’m really happy with it.

Please comment with your opinions and impressions! Did you catch the bow-tie and necklace?

I like how it can easily be re-worked to remain consistent. Some version of this will become a button, business card, gift certificate, store section signs, and (hopefully) more things I haven’t thought of yet!

I’ve decided to run the campaign for a little over a month to be able to include all the events below. If you know of ANYTHING I should consider promoting the Kickstarter at/in that isn’t on this list, I’d LOVE to know about it!

April 17: OverAttired Kickstarter Launch Party! Sign Up Here for an alert when the Kickstarter goes live!

April 18: The Rite of Spring Ball Presented by OverAttired! (and official Ball Afterparty at Longitude!)

April 19: Life and Style in the age of Art Deco

April 25: Gentlemen’s Club (link coming soon)

May 2: PEERS My Fair Lady Ball (and Afterparty at The Parlor)

May 3: GBACG A League of Their Own Reunion Picnic

May 8: Deco Drinks (link coming soon)

May 15-16: Alameda Vintage Fashion Fair

May 17: Venetian Fancy Dress Ball & Gala at Oakland Zoo Snow Building (link coming soon)

May 23: Art Deco Preservation Ball

May 24: OverAttired Kickstarter Campaign End & Wrap Party

Related: I’ve updated The OverAttired 2015 Calendar, and made it a permanent page.

Please see the previous post with more shop detail.

36 Days Out

Yesterday I hinted at an even larger event in my life.

I’m launching a Kickstarter Campaign in a month to open a vintage-clothing-store-and-event-space in Oakland! Every day I pendulum from Super Excited to Freaked Out about a dozen times! I’ve been keeping this mostly-secret because I want it to still be really exciting to everyone when it launches, but I need to start talking about it because Launch Day is Really Important. The first day the Kickstarter Campaign launches is crucial because an overwhelming majority of Kickstarter Campaigns make-or-break on their first day: Campaigns that hit 20-50% of their goal on the first day usually make it, while Campaigns that don’t make 20% usually fail. And more than anything else in life, I don’t want to fail at this. This leads us to why the first day of the Kickstarter is so important to YOU: I’ll have a handful of limited-quantity “doorbuster deals” perks on my Campaign that are just TOO AWESOME to exist in unlimited quantities! Please contact me here, and I’ll contact you personally right when the Campaign goes live! Everyone wins!

This is my life-long dream!

I love dressing well, and I love the compliments I receive from doing so. I’ve found that I also love dressing others well, and hearing about a compliment they got is even more wonderful!

I love hosting events, and seeing everyone having a fabulous time is a great payoff for all the hard work that hosting events entails.

I love our different lecture and knowledge-sharing events we have in the bay area, and look forward to bringing my ideas forward to make them even better.

I love the cocktail social hours hosted around the bay area, and look forward to hosting a regular evening myself. I have amazing friends in different circles. Bringing those circles together in a venn diagram of conversation, sharing (and snark) is really magical.

I love live music and dancing, and especially love dancing to live music, and being able to hire my favorite local musicians!

In closing, I’d like to repeat:

Please sign up (email phone/text Facebook Twitter, or just comment below), and I’ll contact you personally right when the Campaign goes live! Everyone wins! Let’s all be winners!

I'm very happy to be working with friends Paul & Justin of Zoetic Labs on the Kickstarter video and branding. This isn't final branding at all, just a sketch Paul showed in our last meeting. I like it, but I'm concerned it looks too formal - like you'd only come to my shop for a Tuxedo. What's your opinion?

I’m very happy to be working with friends Paul & Justin of Zoetic Labs on the Kickstarter video and branding.
This isn’t final branding at all, just a sketch Paul showed in our last meeting.
I like it, but I’m concerned it looks too formal – like you’d only come to my shop for a Tuxedo.
What’s your opinion?

Event Organization

…is a magnitude more difficult and time-using than you’d expect. I have tons of respect for Tanoa, Jim, and anyone else who does it (among other things) for a living.

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In a week I’m putting on a St. Patrick’s Day Irish Ceili, complete with live band, in my home. That might sound like “oh, you don’t have to deal with a venue!”, but the reality is more “Can you host 30 people dancing around your home tomorrow? Yeah, neither can I.” It’s still a lot of work, it’s just different work. In fact, I decided to cancel the Fortnightly Ceili at The Parlor after 8 months doing it for the following (all pretty depressing) reasons:

  • Despite tons of promotion for each event, we were only averaging ~10 dancers. Why didn’t more people come? Why didn’t more people come back? I don’t know. If you were one of those people, I’d honestly like to know, down in the Comments. No hard feelings at all. (no speculation please)
  • Being a weekday event, this was more difficult to produce than anything else I put on at The Parlor, because time was so restrictive. I’m actually taking the day off work on St. Patrick’s Day to get the house ready. Obviously that isn’t sustainable every fortnight.
  • This was also more (consistently) expensive than anything else I put on at The Parlor, because we had to pay the band (in addition to the tip jar), buy appetizers, etc.. I’m not interested in ideas that include not paying musicians. The first few Parlor Ceili dances didn’t have a band, so I added a band to help attendance. It didn’t.

In about a month, I’m hosting a Gaskells-like event, essentially trying to emulate our largest and longest-running Bay Area dance event that hasn’t been able to pull in the numbers recently to make costs; despite not being able to use their name, and trying the same thing three years ago, which also didn’t make costs (I lost money). Either I’ve learned how to be more successful at event production since then, or I don’t learn well and I’ll lose money again. We’ll see in a month! (please please come!) While still more than a month away, I’ve already spent lots of time (and a not-insignificant amount of money) on the following:

  • Venue research. I know Lake Merritt Dance Center might sound like the obvious choice, but for reasons I’d rather not write publicly, I researched, contacted, visited & measured, and got rates & availability for a few other potential venues.
  • Overall Scheduling: What Date(s) work for the venue, the band, myself, and don’t conflict with (too many) other local events.
  • LMDC: Schedule meeting, meet with venue, beg for lower rate, sign contract.
  • Brassworks: Schedule meeting, meet with band, beg for lower rate, feel like a terrible person for asking my friend to play music I love for a lower rate (this is regarding their guaranteed minimum. If we get enough attendance, I’d end up paying them more than their public rate, Which Would Be Fantastic).
  • Setup Paypal for payments (I farmed out most of this to Monica. Thanks Monica!). Still need to setup Square.
  • Write copy for Facebook Event, Blog Post, Short FB Post about FB event, Tweet, and the Flyer (so far). I’m concerned I wasn’t funny enough this time. It’s hard to shake the concern/fear about not hitting my minimums.
  • Find/crop/etc Image.
  • Design & Create Flyer. Print. I’ve done 200 so far. I’m sure I’ll double that. (want flyers? Contact me!)
  • Schedule Promotion and begin promotion. You might have already seen promotion about The Rite of Spring Ball 5 times. You might have only seen it once. You might just be hearing about it here. You’ll hear more about it. Consistent promotion in waves, with a big push at the beginning, seems to work best. I’ve done the big push, and have a laundry-list of steady promotional waves from now until the Ball. Tonight I’m dropping off flyers at Persephone’s dance class (thanks Persephone!). The Ceili promotion works on a smaller scale of the same thing.

I get a lot of “you don’t have to answer this, but…” questions about costs. It’s never appropriate to include that in actual event promotion, but this is sort of an “insider’s post”, so I’ll include it here. If I get a takedown request from an involved party, I’ll comply. My “break even” number is 100 paying attendees. At 95 attending, I’m paying money out of pocket. At 100, I’m paying the band a rate far below what they’re worth. I don’t take home anything until about 125-150, and even then it’s very small.

Previous established events of this nature (type/area/date) have gotten ~180, so that’s a nice number to shoot for, but not a number I should presume to hit.

The ticket price ($20) is non-negotiable. $15 is too little to break even (the number attending would have to be Huge), and I can’t charge $25 until Gaskells charges $25, because I’m running a very similar Ball in the second-best Ballroom (though still beautiful!) in the area, without the benefit of being established. Why Gaskells doesn’t charge $25 isn’t my business, but I really wish they would.

Are you throwing an AfterParty for the Ball?  HAHAHAHAHA, NO.

If you’d like to throw one, I’ll be happy to attend.

Ten years ago, I only thought about 10% of the actual effort involved. This isn’t a complaint. I wrote this to shine some light on what Event Organization & Promotion actually entails. When you’re enjoying yourself at a local event, thrown by me or someone else, Thank Them. I know they’d appreciate it.

All this is leading up to the Even Larger event that I’m working Even Harder on, which I’ll post about tomorrow!

Friday Links List

Five Quick Friday Links for your weekend pleasure!

PPIE Outfit

San Francisco is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), and we re-lit the Ferry Building tower with 1915 lights as part of the celebration! I got a photograph in The Chronicle! I’m especially honored because I’m the only attendee in their spread! Thanks Chronicle! I hope to do a proper write-up about this soon, but for a quick preview – I’m wearing an era-appropriate brown sack suit with blue windowpaning, blue tweed waistcoat, blue ascot, false soft collar shirt and brown derby.

PEERS is throwing an Edgar Allan Poe Ball this Saturday! That sounds horrifying and depressing unless you know Lee, our resident fantastic Mr. Fox Poe. I really, really hope he does a reading!

I’m throwing an Irish Ceili Dance on St. Patrick’s Day! Come on over to The Parlor for a proper St. Patrick’s Day celebration and dance!

Lovely short commercial from ReVamp Vintage out of Los Angeles. ReVamp does some of the best repro clothes I’ve found!

Humor: McCalls Pattern Behavior Tumblr. I can’t quite articulate why I find this so funny, but I’ve been in tears laughing while going through this lately. Warning: if your humor mirrors mine, you will not be able to keep quiet at your desk.

Laurie’s Black Diamond Cocktail Corset Dress

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Monica and I recently had the pleasure of modeling for Laurie Tavan, showing off a stunning new dark magenta & black piece she created.

Well, Monica modeled the corset, I was just a prop. Guys, why am I always the prop??

The session was done for a corsetry competition at Foundations Revealed that ends in three days(!) at the end of February.

If you’re a member of Foundations Revealed, or you’d like to become a member, I highly encourage you to click over and vote!

As a “prop” I always find it amusing that I’m running around filling the car with stuff, while Monica is modeling one specific thing, that she doesn’t even need to bring!

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Though we only used one outfit, I wanted to give them choices, a rabbit hole you never want to watch me go down.

I brought a full suit, two pairs of trousers, 3 shirts, 20 vests, 3 pairs of braces, 3 pairs of cufflinks, 2 hats, and 3 bow ties.

We went with a black (real) Victorian brocade waistcoat, matching vintage black brocade bow tie, striped morning trousers & black cap toe spade-soled shoes both from the 20’s, and fez of indeterminate vintage.

I’m sure you’ve noticed my beautiful figure; underneath all that I’m wearing a Laurie Tavan corset as well!

Yes Gentlemen, men can wear corsets too, and we look fantastic in them!

I wore a waist cincher corset underneath my Edwardian Ball outfit too (post forthcoming). I find they give that perfect Victorian/Edwardian male silhouette without looking like I’m wearing a fetish outfit (post not forthcoming).

The corset I wore had a wonderful innovation from Laurie of making the top binding elastic! Normally a man will ask that the top of the corset be bound as tightly as possible over his lower ribs, because any gap will give the unwanted (by most of us) impression of a bra/breasts. Using elastic for the top binding completely eliminates this problem.

On to The Corset, which I can’t even begin to do justice with mere words, is made of alternating panels of black satin coutil and magenta silk charmeuse. She calls it the Vegas Black Diamond Cocktail Dress – aka. Smoked Sugar. She made many wonderful posts about the making-of.

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Two magenta satin bows “tie” up the front, and a layer of black lace adorns the top of the bust.

Go vote for this amazing thing!

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Laurie also made a “sister corset” to this one, modeled by a British model here (somewhat NSFW). Yes, it’s ALSO AMAZING. I love the accentuated V made by the black satin, essentially in the dead-space between the diamond-patterned fabric, how different they both are.

Monica accessorized with two different vintage hats – a black mock-bowler and diamond-shaped hat (I admit she brought along 3 hats), and stunning American Duchess Harlow shoes.

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Backstage secret – those fern shadows in the background were lit by photography lights in the next room! We only saw frosted glass pocket doors while doing the shoot, but thanks to Jeremy Tavan’s expert camera work, the hidden fern backdrops look amazing!

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I had a wonderful time modeling for these very professional photographers, who have provided me with half of my favorite photos of myself. I’d personally recommend Laurie’s stitchwork or their photography. This is not a paid post.

All photos by Tavan Photography. Used with permission. Negroni mixed by Jeremy Tavan.

Bowling Shoes

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I’m wearing a vintage Christmas Winter sweater, because it’s still winter, regardless of what 73-degree-California would have you believe. I just noticed that the red shapes pattern across the sweater isn’t as symmetrical as it should be. WTF 1940s people? Between the sweater and shoes I’m wearing blue drop-looped wool trousers, and stripey socks.

I’ve always been fond of recycling bowling shoes as casual vintage wear. With leather soles, they hold up MUCH better than 70+ year old rubber on the bottom of sneakers, AND they make fun dance shoes!

Here’s another pair of bowling shoes, matching my floors. Contrasting laces make them fun & easy to match with another brownish-red item. Bowling shoes commonly have a suede patch on the right toe; I’ve never found this to be an issue (or even noticeable) when walking or dancing in them.

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Monica is wearing a blue 40’s style blouse she made using a reproduction calico print based on a Wearing History pattern, and a navy wool pencil skirt.

(I'm actually a size 9. I suffer for my vanity)

(I’m actually a size 9. I suffer for my vanity)

Newsies at The Orpheum!

Newsies Stop The World!

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One of my favorite musicals (caveat: I’m not sure I have many not-favorite musicals), Newsies is a mostly-historical David & Goliath drama taking place at the turn of the century.

Cast!

The Lead (Jack Kelly, played by Dan DeLuca) plays a perfect heartthrob with a big voice, just bad enough that you don’t want to take him home to the folks (spoiler), just good enough that you never stop rooting for him. He captures everything we love about golden-era musicals that Newsies came from. As Katherine says, he’s charismatic, cocky, arrogant, and a son of a; most of which I think are compliments. Katherine is played by Stephanie Styles, who certainly holds her own in such a male-dominated cast. Dressed in Magenta throughout, a color suggesting both heat and femininity, which plays into her character.

Jack is supported by Davey (Jacob Kemp), owner of a lovely deep baritone, if a little out of place when all the parts are “children”.

Davey’s younger brother Les (Anthony Rosenthal) steals every scene he’s in. The kid’s bio lists past performances of nearly every musical with a small child role.

Costuming!

Adults atop their tower are properly attired , with men in morning coats, frock coats, false collars, and ascots, and women in striped mutton sleeves, big teased hair, and trumpet skirts.

The newsies themselves are comprised of a nearly 20-strong multi-ethnic ensemble cast, encompassing a significant percentage of our nation’s top male acrobatic dancers. Just about every one of them gets time to shine, and the ensemble routines routinely had me at the edge of my seat. I have a minor complaint that every boy is in knickers, and every pair of knickers is just hemmed up trousers, no fullness.

Newsies sits in the middle of the road between musicals with songs that advance the plot (Le Mis, most of the script is sung) vs interlude songs (Cocoanuts).

The staging is fun, creative, and modal, with many smaller set pieces moved in/out of place by the cast when changing scenes, though they employ too much video for a stage show (I still have nightmares of Peter Pan in 360). The last few big shows I’ve seen have been unmiked, so it was a little difficult getting used to everyone’s voices coming from the same place.

The dancing is fantastic. Fosse’s influence is all over it, as well as our modern love affair with floor acrobatics. I was happy to see a handful of fellow dancers in the audience :)

The show ended with a well-deserved standing ovation; and don’t leave just yet, because there’s a little more dancing before it’s all over.

Newsies runs Now-March 15th at The Orpheum in San Francisco. Tickets run $50-225, with Rush tickets at $40 each, 2 hrs before showtime (6pm). I got Rush tickets: about 30 back in the waiting line, and still got Orchestra seats!

Directed by Jeff Calhoun

Choreographed by Christopher Gattelli

Costumes designed by Jess Goldstein

I’m the king of New York!

$_35

Related: OverAttired 2015 Calendar