REVIEW: The Wild Party

This show unquestionably lived up to its name! I was so happy to be going to see live theater again after the height of the pandemic, and this was a fantastic show to begin on. I loved the music, vocals, outfits, and just the experience of being in a theater with a live audience after such a long time.

The first thing I think it is important to comment on is the fantastic vocals from both the lead actors. I was awed by their voices, and I realized that I have never really heard anyone from the SMTD program sing before. I enjoyed their solos as well as their duets, and I got a great sense of the major vocal ranges that both of them possessed. The music also provided many opportunities to impress, as it was complex and well written. I loved the sort of jazzy style of some of the music, and I thought each song sounded unique from the others. Also, this musical had basically no dialogue and was almost entirely singing. So I was doubly impressed that there was full voice singing and dancing the entire show, which was over 2 hours.

I also loved some of the more modern implements, the most interesting of which was the inclusion of “phones” as a prop. In many of the scenes, the characters were holding phone-shaped items that just let off enough light to be bright in the darkness. They used these props as phones, as a way to light up their faces, and as faux recording devices during exciting moments. I think this prop brought the show into a more modern “gossip girl” style, as it was advertised that it would do. However, I think it wasn’t enough to let me know that was the intent without me having known that beforehand. While I did really think this prop was cool, I was actually hoping they would do more with it. Perhaps a part of the show could have been in darkness with the phones as the only light, which could have looked very cool.

The only critique I really have for this show was the sparkly streamers that lined the back and sides of the stage. These reflected the light of the spotlights and were super distracting, especially during serious moments. I found them hard to look away from even when I wanted to be watching a scene that was going on between characters.

Pulp | Arts Around Ann Arbor

Finally, I want to mention the amazing performance by the male lead. His character’s steady progression from confident boyfriend to unhinged psycho was amazing to watch. He did a spectacular job with this slow descent into madness and I didn’t even notice how unstable he was becoming until he started really acting insane. His solo at the end of the show had crazy vocals and he really kept up his energy through the end.

I would definitely recommend this show to anyone who likes musicals. The vocalists were amazing, the dancing was quite impressive, and the storyline had me hooked. It also gave an important message about domestic violence, and I thought the director did a great job getting this message across. Not a show for children, but I would recommend this show highly.

PREVIEW: The Wild Party

This steamy prohibition tale, following a party-to-end-all-parties, was originally set in the 1920s but has been updated to reflect a more modern, gossip girl-style show. The show is filled with jealous lovers, violence, glamour and colorful party guests, and has won several different awards for its off-Broadway run. The Wild Party also features a score written by SMTD alumnus Andrew Lippa! There is a content warning that the show is really for mature audiences, and includes profanity, drug and alcohol use, and adult situations. Additionally, it contains strobe lights. So leave your kids with the babysitter for this one.

I am excited to see this show because I have never heard of it, even when it was on Broadway, and it sounds like a lot of fun. And I love to support the SMTD program! I have missed seeing in-person theater performances, and I am eager to get back into the theater world here at U of M. The show is playing at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, which is in the League, from October 14th through October 17th.

Tickets and more information can be found here: https://tickets.smtd.umich.edu/5207

REVIEW: The Alpinist

This amazing documentary followed an extreme alpine climber, Marc-André Leclerc, through several different adventures of climbing as well as his own struggles and personal life. I would say this was one of those films that has you sitting awestruck at least through the credits if not longer. I was blown away by the gorgeous cinematography, the raw honesty of the filmmakers and the subjects of the documentary, and the craft honed by those who do alpine climbing.

First, the cinematography was just gorgeous. I loved that we got both very up close shots of Leclerc climbing and more birds-eye views of the different landscapes he was scaling. A big part of the appeal of the documentary for me was that it was very aesthetically pleasing. They also showed a variety of different climbs, so the audience got to see picturesque mountains from all over the world.

Film Review: The Alpinist – SLUG Magazine

The raw honesty of the filmmakers and subjects definitely drew me in right away to the story. Everyone spoke so highly of Leclerc, and was amazed by his talent, but the filmmakers were not afraid to show some of the difficulties working with him. He did disappear on them for a while, and they had to track him down through other climbers social medias in order to get back in touch with him. I think the fact that they included this in the film made him seem a lot more real, and made me much more interested in him as a person. Further, they chose such interesting people to comment on his talent, with a mix of both older, experienced climbers, people close to him, and some younger, more famous climbers. I think this array really gave viewers a better understanding of how intense and extreme his climbing really was.

The Alpinist' true story: Tragic romance meets 'Free Solo' - Los Angeles Times

Finally, this documentary honestly gave me my first ever exposure to alpine climbing and how it worked. I enjoyed the learning aspect of it, and was glad that the documentarians gave a background of how alpine climbing has progressed in the last century, because it put the talent of Leclerc into perspective for me. Also, I was shocked to actually watch him in action, and see how much faith these climbers really put into their abilities and tools. The amount of knowledge that they have and the bravery of their expeditions really blew me away. The film did a great job of limiting the amount of actual physical climbing shown to the audience, because I think a ton of clips of him just climbing could have been very boring.

I would recommend this film to anyone who likes to watch feats of human talent or anyone who enjoys beautiful landscapes. I thought this documentary was very well done, and kept me engaged and interested the whole time. Finally, I have to mention that the “twist” towards the end of the film came as a total surprise and I think the way the documentary handled it was very well done. Go see this movie!

Tickets at the State Theater: https://michtheater.org/the-alpinist

Where to Watch 'The Alpinist' Movie

PREVIEW: The Alpinist

The Alpinist, starring extreme alpine climber Marc-André Leclerc, follows his death-defying solo adventures scaling huge mountains, with minimal equipment and a ton of raw skill. This movie has already gotten a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, after being released on September 10th. I am excited to see Leclerc’s climbing abilities, as well as the beautiful mountain landscapes he will be ascending. I also rarely get to see a documentary in a movie theater (especially recently due to Covid-19), so I am especially eager to experience this film.

The movie is currently showing at the State Theater, mostly in the late afternoons and evenings. Get tickets here! https://michtheater.org/the-alpinist

PREVIEW: Sir András Schiff, piano

Sir András Schiff, a master of the piano, recorded this presentation in the Church of St. Peter in Zurich. He is one of music’s most revered pianists, and is releasing this program to only a few US presenters. Luckily for us, it is available through UMS Digital Presentations.

I miss listening to live piano a whole lot, and he is performing a bunch of Bach and Beethoven that I would love to hear! Plus, the Church of St. Peter will definitely enhance the sound of the piano beautifully!

The performance begins streaming on April 8th: https://ums.org/performance/sir-andras-schiff-piano-digital/

REVIEW: Mod Metallic Trays

With the wellness day coming up, I thought that a small art project would be the perfect way to destress and enjoy my “spring break”. This craft was an art project supplied by the Ann Arbor Art Center, and in the kit included some instructions, one package of white Model Magic air dry clay, a huge thing of gold paint (relative to the size of the clay), a paintbrush, and a piece of wax paper for letting the clay dry on.

First I looked through the instructions, which were pretty basic, and detailed how to create a pinch pot as a starting point to the suggested crafts. These included a ring tray, small bowl, and flat lipped tray. I chose to do a flat lipped tray, but make it heart shaped, just to make it interesting. The instructions also suggested using materials from around the house to push imprint patterns into the clay, which I thought was genius. I used a couple of my rings that I wear every day to make the shapes that I included on my tray, as well as some necklaces that I have which have heart-shaped pendants. I had so much fun looking through my room and trying to find different items that I could use to push shapes into the clay.

Here it is from the top, with two different necklaces used to make shapes in the clay for the inside of the bowl. I also tried to make shapes on the inside of the lip of the tray with another ring, but for some reason those did not turn out as well. You can sort of see them on the sides of the tray in the above picture as well. Pushing the necklaces in to the clay was hard without accidentally making other markings from the necklace, as well as not pushing against some of the shapes that were already there and causing them to fade a little. You can see that it was hard to make the hearts uniform in terms of depth. But it looked pretty cool at this point! Below, you can see I used another ring to do a different design along the outer edge of the tray too.

I waited 24 hours for the clay to dry like the instructions said, and then I started painting! The gold paint they provided was so sparkly and pretty, I wish I had more things to paint it with. It especially looked gorgeous because I was painting in the light of my window, so the sun was making it look so cool. Below you can see I outlined each heart on the inside of the tray along the lines of where I pressed them into the clay. I think it turned out looking pretty cool! I didn’t try to make it super neat or anything because I wanted it to be more fun than perfect. 

Below you can see I painted the whole outside so as to be able to see the pattern too. I love how it turned out overall and it was also a blast to mold the clay and paint.

This was one of the most fun things I have done for a review in a while! The art I review is not usually so hands-on, and I had a really good time playing with the clay and painting it with that gorgeous gold paint in the sun.