Learning How to Say No: Why we turned down a chance at a National Broadway Tour

LIttleGrayThread Keila Segerstrom

It all started when I took my kids to see Miss Saigon at Segerstrom Center.  I know its an unconventional choice to take a 4 and 7 year old to see such a “mature” show, but I had good reasons for wanting my children to see this production.  In this day and age where Asians are largely unrepresented, I couldn’t pass up the change to show my daughters a stage full of talented Asian artists living their dreams.  Also, our friend Keila Halili @cupofkeila was in the cast and I COULD NOT miss that!

After the show, we met Keila at the stage door and she was able to take us on the Miss Saigon stage.  We also got to meet a lot of her cast mates, a couple of them who were casting people for the show.  They sort of eyed LittleSage since she matched the age and description of Tam, who is the child in the show.  I half joked that if they ever needed someone to go in as Tam, I have the perfect half-asian 4 to 6 year old child who loves the stage.  Not too much came after that, but I did submit my info to them on a whim.

Miss Saigon Kim Pose

Fast forward to present day (months and months later), I got an email from Miss Saigon confirming my daughter’s name and if we are able to make it to the National Broadway Tour audition for Tam.  I stopped breathing for a good portion of a minute until I read that the audition was in New York.  In eight days.  I laughed it off and immediately texted a few of my close friends.  Surprisingly, EVERYONE was in support of us going to New York.  Even my best friend Jo, who is usually my voice of reason, said, “This could be her big break.  Of course you need to go.”  I texted all of my close friends with touring and musical theater experience and everyone encouraged us to at least audition.

Miss Saigon Step and Repeat

When I texted my husband, he calmly replied, “Let’s talk about this tonight.”  My brain shut off and I was unable to do anything the entire day.  I talked to Keila about it and she  let me know a little bit more about the role.  After talking to the casting people, I found out that they were looking for a quick replacement and that the contract would start within a month.  Since it is with the National Broadway Tour, we would be traveling with the company through the remainder of the tour.

We talked about the different options together as a family.  LittleSage was so excited about the idea of going on tour.  She said she wanted to be on stage and have her name in the program.  I asked her what she thought being on stage would be like, and she said “I run out on stage, and when the loud gun goes off, I fall down!” so she did have some loose recollection of the story.

LittleGrayThread Segerstrom Stage

But then realistically, this was a logistical nightmare.  First off, we would have had to pay our own way to get to New York for the audition, and the role wasn’t even an guarantee (and last minute trips to New York are very expensive).  We thought of different options for big sister LittleGray.  Her initial reaction is that she would rather stay home with Dad then go on tour with LittleSage and me.  (I also want to add that there was not a silver of jealousy here.  She was excited for her sister and 100% understood that she was too old/tall for the role and it wasn’t even an issue).  After talking to our parents, my dad agreed that he could come and stay with her long term if this entire thing ended up happening.  But even so, it would be super difficult for my husband to basically be a single father while working a full time job and potentially flying out to see us every weekend.

We asked LittleSage if this is something she really wanted to do, and what she wanted to be when she grows up.  She was torn too, because while she really wanted to go on tour, she said she would miss her family, her dog, and her teachers and friends at school.  I asked her if she would want to do this forever, and she quickly said, “No, no, not forever.”  I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she said, “A doctor.”  Since this isn’t her passion in life, we ultimately decided not to go through with the audition. 

emily bautista

This really got me thinking about passion and dreams.  Why do I work so hard to expose my children to the arts and live theater?  I am always drawn to Asian performers in particular because I know how hard it is to break away from the stereotypical mold.  While at Miss Saigon, we met Emily Bautista @em_bautista who is a powerhouse Kim at only 21 years old.  We met Jessica Fry @jesicafry_ who left Stanford University to tour with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  At Frozen, we met Marina Kondo @marinakondo who is helping break down sterotypes by playing Queen Iduna in a colorblind cast.  These stories are so fascinating to me.  I want my daughters to see Asian people in all walks of life so they can see that they are limitless.  

I have no idea why LittleSage wants to be a doctor.  LittleGray said she wants to be an Instagrammer like me, but that’s an entirely different story for a whole other post.  Maybe Asians are more drawn to fields like medicine?  Probably because both of my sisters are doctors?  I don’t know.  At any rate, I just know that I have to work extra hard to show them that they can be something outside of what is expected.

Little GrayThread

Now let’s go back to why we had to say no to this once in a lifetime opportunity.  It wasn’t the right choice for our family at this time.  We should not pursue it unless 100% of the family was on board, and this was not the case.  While we were all supportive, deep down we knew it was not the right thing for our family.  Luckily, I found a local children’s theater within our budget (way less than what it would have cost to get us to New York) where both of the kids can perform together.  Have you ever had to say no to something that you really wanted to say yes to?

It’s an interesting thing having to say no to something you really wanted.  Even though I knew what the right decision was, I still had to grieve the opportunity that once was.  I was really sad for a couple of days.  It was the crippling type of sadness that made me want to crawl inside my skin, and for that I felt even worse because I knew that the alternative was the best choice for my family.  I felt bad for feeling sad.  But again, my best friend Jo talked me through my feelings and told me that my feelings were valid and that I’m allowed to grieve.  After about a day, I felt better and I was able to talk about this experience openly without breaking down. Now, I want to write about it so my daughters can look back at this and see what was going through my head and how we came to these decisions. 

little gray thread segerstrom

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to expose them to live theater and support Asian and minority performers.  By having them meet people who are living their dreams, we learn their stories and add to ours.  I hope that someday the kids will look back on their childhood and realize that their stories started at home.  No matter where the end up, I hope they end up living their passions, happy, full, and content.

Escape to Margaritaville Coming to Orange County February 4-9


Where my Jimmy Buffett fans at?!  “Escape to Margaritaville” is coming to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from February 4-9.  This North American tour is the inaugural tour for this show! 


Jimmy Buffett was very involved in the creation of this tour.  “This talented cast has been hand-selected to share and celebrate the story, music and lifestyle of this show on its first national tour,” says Jimmy Buffett. “I am thrilled that this group of performers will transform theaters into Margaritaville each evening. Margaritaville started out as an idea, but now you can actually spend an evening there, and get your mind on island time.”


“Escape to Margaritaville” features Jimmy Buffet classic songs like “Fins”, “Volcano” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise”.  The tour will feature Shelly Lynn Walsh @shellylynnwalsh as Tammy, Peter Michael Jordan @latifahpeter as Brick, Chris Clark @chrisclark55 as Tully, Sarah Hinrichsen @sare_hin as Rachel.


Ticket Information

February 4 – 9, 2020
Tuesday – Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 1:00 and 6:30 p.m.
The 2:00 p.m. performance on Saturday, February 8 will include audio description, open captioning and sign-language interpretation.
Tickets – Start at $26
In Person – The Box Office
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily

Online – SCFTA.org
Phone – (714) 556-2787

Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily

Group Sales – (714) 755-0236

Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday

Official show site: www.EscapeToMargaritavilleMusical.com
Facebook: BuffettMusical
Twitter: @BuffettMusical
Instagram: @BuffettMusical

All photos courtesy of Segerstrom Center of the Arts and used with permission.

Blue Man Group is Coming to Orange County Segerstrom Center for the Arts and Kids can go for FREE on Select Days


BLUE MAN GROUP is making it’s way to Segerstrom Center of the Arts in Orange County January 7 – 12, 2020!  This would make an excellent Holiday gift especially for families who are focusing more on experience based gifts instead of physical gifts.

Kids Night on Broadway–Kids ticket for FREE!

A special Kids Night on Broadway discount will be offered for two performances January 7 and 8. With the purchase of one full-price ticket, parents can receive a second ticket FREE for children. Ticket prices start at $26. Use code BLUEKID when purchasing. Children and families are also encouraged to arrive early and enjoy pre-show activities in the Segerstrom Hall lobby beginning at 6:00 p.m., including coloring stations, crafts, activities, photo opportunities and more!

Blue Man Group

More than 35 million people around the world have experienced the smash hit phenomenon that is BLUE MAN GROUP, and the world renowned bald and blue trio are back on the road in a new North American tour. Under the helm of visionary director Jenny Koons, in her first-time collaboration with BLUE MAN GROUP, the tour features everything audiences know and love about BLUE MAN GROUP—signature drumming, colorful moments of creativity and quirky comedy—the men are still blue, but the rest is all new! Including pulsing, original music, custom-made instruments, surprise audience interaction and hilarious absurdity, audiences join the Blue Men in a joyful experience that unites audiences of all ages.

Tickets to BLUE MAN GROUP start at $26 and can be purchased at SCFTA.org, by calling (714) 556-2787 and at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. To take advantage of the Kids Night opportunity, use promo code BLUEKID. For inquiries about group ticket savings for 10 or more, please call the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236. The 2:00 p.m. performance on Saturday, January 11 will include audio description, open captioning and sign-language interpretation. The Center offers many services for patrons with disabilities including removable wheelchair locations, binoculars and assistive listening devices. To learn more visit SCFTA.org/accessibilityinformation.

Fans can keep up with the Blue Man Group Tour through:

Twitter:        https://twitter.com/bluemangroup
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/bluemangroup
Instagram:   https://www.instagram.com/bluemangroup/
YouTube:     https://www.youtube.com/bluemangroup

Holiday Shows coming to Segerstrom Center of the Arts


Can you believe the Holidays are right around the corner?  It doesn’t feel like Christmas without taking in a live performance like the Nutcracker or Mannheim Steamroller.  I’m a huge fan of gifting experiences instead of physical presents, so tickets to a Holiday show at Segerstrom Center of the Arts is a great idea!  I love creating new family traditions and the kids look forward to revisiting things year after year.  There are so many options for Holiday shows right in our backyard!

Segerstrom Center for the Arts is pleased to announce a thrilling roster of performances and events that celebrate the holiday season.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
December 1, 2019 | Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
Segerstrom Hall. Tickets start at $59.


Join the celebration as Mannheim Steamroller makes history again – celebrating 35 years of holiday magic as they bring their annual holiday tour to fans throughout the country. Experience the performance of the #1 Christmas music artist in history and, for the first time ever, hear the entire album that started it all, LIVE – “Mannheim Steamroller Christmas!”

Dixie’s Tupperware Party
December 4 – 8, 2019 | Wednesday – Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday 2:00 and 7:00 p.m.; Sunday at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m.
Samueli Theater. Tickets start at $39.


Lift your spirits and perhaps even get some holiday shopping done with Dixie’s Tupperware Party. Dixie Longate, the fast-talking Tupperware Lady, returns for good ol’-fashioned Tupperware parties filled with outrageously funny tales, FREE giveaways and the most fabulous assortment of Tupperware ever sold on a theater stage!

American Ballet Theatre: The Nutcracker
December 13 – 22, 2019 | Wednesday – Friday at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m.; Sunday at 12:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Segerstrom Hall. Tickets start at $29.


American Ballet Theatre’s sumptuous production of The Nutcracker is Orange County’s must-see holiday tradition. Once again, audiences will be thrilled by ABT’s incomparable dancers and delighted with Alexei Ratmansky’s “cinematic creation” (Orange County Register). As the ballet unfolds to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, accomplished young students from Segerstrom Center’s American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School appear alongside ABT’s internationally acclaimed dancers to tell this family favorite tale.

Fiesta Navidad Mariachi Los Camperos
December 19, 2019 | Thursday at 8:00 p.m.
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets start at $29.


Join us for one of Orange County’s most beloved annual holiday traditions as the Grammy Award®-winning Mariachi Los Camperos returns to Segerstrom Center with Fiesta Navidad. Filled with music and dance, this colorful celebration of Mexican holiday traditions is perfect for the whole family.

Spanish Harlem Orchestra: Salsa Navidad
December 21, 2019 | Saturday at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.
Samueli Theater. Tickets start at $39.


Celebrate the winter holidays with the Segerstrom Center debut of the two-time Grammy®-winning Salsa and Latin Jazz band that will make you want to stand up and dance. It simply doesn’t get any better when this Latin jazz powerhouse exudes energy on stage with musical precision that captivates audiences until the last note is played.

Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert
December 28, 2019 | Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets start at $49.


Ring in the New Year with a glittery celebration of singing and dancing that will delight the senses. Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert recreates the beauty of Vienna’s golden era and its elegance charms audiences of every age. This year’s concert will feature a brilliant new program of Strauss Waltzes and sweeping melodies from beloved operettas performed by acclaimed European singers, champion ballroom dancers, the National Ballet of Hungary and the Strauss Symphony of America.

Tickets and Gift Certificates

To help take the stress out of year-round gift giving, the Center offers gift certificates that can be used for any of the many wonderful shows and performances. Gift certificates can be purchased through the Center’s website at www.SCFTA.org or by visiting or calling the Box Office.

Tickets are available for purchase online at www.SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787. For inquiries about group ticket savings of 10 or more, please call the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236.

All images courtesy of Segerstrom Center of the Arts.

Broadway “Anastasia” Coming to Segerstrom Center of the Arts in Orange County November 5 – 17


I remember being obsessed with the animated version of “Anastasia” when I was a kid.  Maybe it was my abnormal obsession with Meg Ryan or my undying love for dance, but I knew this story inside and out.  The haunting storyline, ballads that you will immediately memorize, the COSTUMES–what’s not to love?!  I’ve scoured the internet for every single teaser video of ANASTASIA on Broadway and I 100% understand the cult following behind this musical.


Already having made stops in San Diego and the Hollywood Pantages Theater, this is your last chance to see ANASTASIA in Southern California!  This dazzling show transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love, and family.


Jake Levy will join current cast members Lila Coogan as AnyaJason Michael Evans as GlebJoy Franz as Dowager EmpressTari Kelly as Countess LilyEdward Staudenmayer as Vlad and Delilah Rose Pellow as Little Anastasia. The company also welcomes new cast members, Hannah Florence as Swing / u/s AnyaTamra Hayden as U/S DowagerRyan Mac as Ensembleu/s DmitryDaniel Z. Miller as U/S Dmitry and Eloise Vaynshtok as Little Anastasia. The current ANASTASIA ensemble includes Ronnie S. Bowman Jr.Ashlee DupreKylie Victoria EdwardsAlison EwingPeter GarzaJeremiah GinnBrad GreerLucy HortonFred InkleyKourtney KeittBeth Stafford LairdMark MacKillopKenneth Michael MurrayTaylor QuickMatt RosellSareen Tchekmedyian and Lyrica Woodruff.


Tickets to ANASTASIA start at $26 and are available for purchase at SCFTA.org, by calling (714) 556-2787 and at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. For inquiries about group ticket savings for 10 or more, please call the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236. The 2:00 p.m. performance on Saturday, November 16 will include audio description, open captioning and sign-language interpretation. The Center offers many services for patrons with disabilities including removable wheelchair locations, binoculars and assistive listening devices.

Photos used by permission.  More information about ANASTASIA can be found on Instagram @AnastasiaBway, Facebook, Twitter, and on their official show site www.anastasiathemusical.com.

Why I Took my Young Daughters to see Miss Saigon


A lot of people might wonder why I decided to bring my kids to see Miss Saigon. Miss Saigon is a musical intended for audiences 14+ due to adult content and language. It’s also a musical with an Asian storyline with a primarily Asian cast. An opportunity for my Asian daughters to see themselves represented on the stage is very rare. I wanted them to see other Asian people living their dreams (and also support our own Auntie Keila @cupofkeila who was performing in the ensemble in the cast).  It was more important to me that my daughters were able to see an Asian Broadway production first hand.  I received three complementary tickets from Segerstrom Center for the Arts in exchange for an honest review.  Photos used by permission .

Miss Saigon Step and Repeat

After the show, their Auntie Keila was able to take them backstage to give them a first hand look at a working Broadway tour. LittleGray got to see the Dragon (her favorite part) and LittleSage was up close and personal with the American Dream costumes (her personal favorite and yes she asked me to make one for her). Most importantly, they got to meet Asian performers and were validated by their success. It made their Broadway dreams just one step closer to becoming a reality.

I didn’t think that Miss Saigon was even that inappropriate for my children. Though the dance scenes were racy at times, it helped tell the story of something that really happened as a part of our history. They were more enthralled at the production as a whole (The costumes! The lighting! THE SHEER TALENT of Emily Bautista @em_bautista (Kim) and Red Conception @red_concepcion (The Engineer). My kids are comfortable around language and are accustomed to theater etiquette, so I wouldn’t hesitate to take them again. Both of them thoroughly enjoyed the show through the final curtain call—they even got to wave to Keila directly during bows and when she waved back, my heart burst into a million pieces.  

Thank you, Miss Saigon, for touring with this story that needs to be told and exposing people to POC representation. Keila @cupofkeila, this experience meant so much to us and I am forever grateful. To Segerstrom Center for the Arts, thank you for allowing people of all ages see this special show and letting parents make the best decision for their family. 🥰.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts Ticket Information


MISS SAIGON tells the story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim, who is orphaned by war and forced to work in a bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American G.I. named Chris, but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For 3 years, Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he’s fathered a son. This new production features stunning spectacle and a sensational cast of 42 performing the soaring score, including Broadway hits like “The Heat is On in Saigon,” “The Movie in My Mind,” “Last Night of the World” and “American Dream.”


October 1 – 13, 2019
Tuesday – Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 1:00 and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets – Start at $26
In Person – The Box Office
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily

Online – SCFTA.org
Phone – (714) 556-2787

Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily

Group Sales – (714) 755-0236

Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday

Advisory – MISS SAIGON contains some scenes and language which may not be suitable for younger audience members, including scenes of a sexual nature. Recommended
for ages 14 and up.  More information about the show can be found on their website.

Surprising Things My Kids Learned in a Special Needs Musical Theater Class

Segerstrom Judy Morr Theater

I have been searching high and low for a wonderful and affordable musical theater class for kids in Orange County.  I didn’t even know that Segerstrom Center For the Arts, the same theater that hosts Broadway shows in Orange County, also offers musical theater, dance, and ballet classes on site.  Not only can kids ages 4 to 22 learn how to dance, sing and act, but these classes are geared for children with special needs and their typically developing peers.  

Segerstrom Musical Theater Matters Baseball Poses

My daughters tried out the “Musical Theater Matters” class for kids of all abilities ages 7 through 11.  They made an exception for LittleSage (age 4) because she really likes Charlie Brown, this session’s theme.  The classes cap off at 10 students and all abilities are welcome.  Each class is taught by three teachers:  the Director/Music instructor Ms. Cynthia, the Choreographer/Dance Instructor Ms. Ashley, and the Therapist Ms. Brittany.  In addition to the three instructors, there are 8 student peer volunteers from OCSA (Orange County School of the Arts).  This allows each child to have an older buddy to partner with one-on-one.  In our class, there was a variety of cognitive disabilities, physical disabilities (wheel chairs and leg braces), Autism, and Down Syndrome.  Even though my daughters do not have a physical or cognitive disability, every child was treated equally.  After our first class, I came to three big reasons why every child should participate in an inclusive class for all abilities.

Squash the need for “One size fits all perfection”

When I was little, I spent most of my time at my ballet academy.  There were several times where I felt pressured to be the same cookie cutter perfection that is commonly associated with ballerinas.  I’ve been apprehensive about putting my daughters into a dance program because I didn’t want them to feel at same level of pressure.  During the Musical Theater Matters class, I realized that all the kids were working to the best of their abilities, and their version of “perfect” all looked different.  Some kids were slower to do dance moves while others performed with rigid perfection.  This took the pressure off my children to look or perform a certain way.

Segerstrom Musical Theater Matters Movement

Learn Patience and Adaptability

Since their new friends had some physical limitations like being in a wheelchair or having leg braces, the kids had to creatively think of a way where everyone could be involved.  They also learned to be patient if a friend is having a rough time stemming or attending to the teacher.  This experience normalized these behaviors so they wouldn’t be perceived as “weird” or “scary” when they encounter them again.

Segerstrom Musical Theater Matters Charlie Brown

Inclusion and Exposure to Kids with Different Abilities

I am a strong believer that the heart beats stronger for things that one has a direct experience with.  One of my goals is to raise my children to have open minds and open hearts.  On an every day bases, we probably wouldn’t have many experiences with children with disabilities.  Through “Musical Theater Matters”, my kids have an opportunity to get to know kids who might not look like them.  If you want your kids to be compassionate about kids with all abilities, give them opportunities to be along side them.  

Segerstrom Musical Theater Matters Huddle

At the end of the session, the class learned an entire number with lyrics, choreography, and staging.  Each child was affirmed at the beginning and the end of the session with individualized praise and attention.  Improv and movement games were played at all levels of abilities.  Honestly, my typically developing daughters didn’t feel that they were any different than their peers with special needs.  This 10 week session is only $200, which makes it a steal at just $20 a class.  It takes place every Monday from 5:45-6:45.  To register, you can visit scfta.org for more information.

Musical Theater Matters LittleGrayThread