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 Holy Bones Festival

To all Halloween enthusiasts,

I will be the brave one to address what’s on everyone’s mind: Fall break is just around the corner and you don’t know what to do! Halloween season is about to start! Your midterm couldn’t have been scheduled at a worse time! AT&T stock drops toward 11-year low, as dividend yield rises further above 8%!

Fear not I have an event for you that will cast away your worries and give you the perfect, ghoul fuelled start to your fall break.*

*applies to folks free between 3 pm EST and 10 pm EST on the 16th October 2021 only Terms and Conditions apply.

Skeletons partying like there’s no tomorrow

Thee (with the special e sound) Holy Bones Festival!

If you were looking for a sign then here is the official start to Halloween season for you. This spooktacular event is held right in your backyard: Ypsilanti. A quick (did I mention free?) bus ride away from CCTC. Forget taking the bus to your North Campus 8ams this is where the groovy kids take the bus to. 

The festival will have over FORTY local artisans and tarot readers, live music, drag shows, an art show, an auction (c’mon have you ever been to a freaking auction?),  and an improv show.

So put on your Jack Skellington T-shirts and be ready to have fun in the sun like the skeletons in the poster. Do you see how much fun they’re having?! 

Also, their early tickets are prices devilishly at $6.66 so don’t wait too long. Grab a friend and let’s go!

 

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

REVIEW: Realm of the Dead

This Thursday, I attended Realm of the Dead, an installation at the School of Social Work. Comprised of more than 30 suitcases, Realm of the Dead is a reflection on tragedy, grief, and identity by Rogerio M. Pinto, a professor of Social Work at UofM.

The walk into the building was supplemented by a drumline performance, waking me up and welcoming me into a lobby where videos of the Rio Carnival played. I was handed a small, white, rectangular box with a letter and number denoting where I would be located once we moved downstairs. A suitcase full of wish ribbons lay open: curious, I peeked inside, and an usher offered to help me tie one around my wrist. The ribbons read “Realm of the Dead.”

When the performance was set to begin, the audience descended a set of stairs to the lower floor. The ritualistic feeling of moving down the stairs, down to the Realm of the Dead, accompanied by the drumline’s beat, felt sacred in a way. Hushed, the audience made their way to the suitcases, laid out in a grid. The artist, Rogerio M. Pinto, sat next to a doll in a suitcase casket, holding a rosary, murmuring inaudible words. The drumline came to a halt, the suitcases were opened to reveal insides filled with art, and Pinto began to tell his story.

“Emotional baggage—” Pinto explains. Many people in the world can fit all their belongings into one suitcase. Could you carry everything with you in one bag? How about one small box?

Pinto tells the story, in pieces, of the death of his baby sister Marilia. She was 3 when she was killed in a tragic accident. Pinto unfolds the effect of this tragedy on his family and his identities growing up. Both his words and the suitcases weave a deep exploration of grief in relation to gender, body, ethnicity, immigration, and class. 

Throughout the exhibit, suitcases filled with small items asked each viewer to take the things that reminded them of someone or something they had lost. We would fill out boxes with these things, and at the end, there would be the option to keep it or to leave it in the Realm of the Dead, allowing it to become part of the exhibit. Moving through the exhibit, I felt my box grow slightly more full with the notes and items I had collected, but I also felt myself grow heavy. Listening to Pinto’s story of grief, remembering my own.

We keep the dead with us, in us. My mother passed away 2 years ago, leaving me feeling helpless and crushed. I am still grieving her. While this performance left me remembering this loss with a heavy heart, I found myself comforted by the reminder that a part of her is in me and always will be. I choose to carry her with me. I grieve. “My sweet sister, no longer here, no longer on Earth.” Pinto holds his hands to his chest. She lives on, he says, in him—”Can you see her?” 

This exploration of grief through art and performance was so beautifully touching to me. I am thankful to Pinto for sharing his story, and in this way giving the audience a space to search their own losses. To honor the Realm of the Dead.

REVIEW: University Philharmonic Orchestra

What a night!

This was my first orchestra concert  experience since coming to the University of Michigan and I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed! Walking into Hill auditorium, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how beautiful the space was; the rows upon rows of red cushioned seats, the decorative work running across the ceiling, and  the massive organ glimmering beneath the lights along the back wall of the stage. I made sure to get to the auditorium early in order to get a good seat and I could tell as soon as I sat down that the acoustics in this space would be amazing. A stifled sneeze from someone on stage would be able to be heard as clear in the nosebleed sections as it would be in the front row.

The concert started out strong, opening with an excitingly fast paced rendition of Chad “Sir Wick” Hughes’  Visions of Renaissance. This piece was a whirlwind of sound from start to finish and Adrian Slywotzky conducted beautifully. But, what truly blew my mind was the second piece of the concert which was  Piano Concerto no. 1 in F-Sharp Minor, op. 1 by Sergei Rachmaninov. The piece was split into three movements and the star of these movements was Pianist, Sua Lee. Lee is a master pianist, having received multiple awards for her incredible talent on the ivory, the most recent being the 2021 Concerto Competition. I’ve never seen fingers move so fast across a piano as hers did that night. Lee shone on that stage while the orchestra provided a supporting role behind her. It was a beautiful call and response relationship that flowed and ebbed with a multitude of emotion. It was clear to  see how involved Lee was in the music. With every intake of breath, every fluid movement of her finger across the keys, the graceful way she leaned into the piano; she was mesmerizing to watch. The emotions she called to the stage ebbed into the audience as well, we were all captivated by her performance. As such, Lee received a standing ovation from the audience.

As wonderful as the concerto was however, I have to say that my favorite piece of the night was Symphony no. 6 in F Major, op. 68 by Beethoven. This was mostly due to the fact that I’m a big fan of the Disney film Fantasia which is a Disney classic and a must watch film if you haven’t seen it. Fantasia is made up of entire stories animated to some of the greatest classical music of all time. And Symphony no. 6 just happens to make up one of my favorite moments of Fantasia. I was able to relive the film live as I listened to the orchestra and I have to say, the orchestra was so superb that if I closed my eyes, I could almost believe I was listening to a recording of a professional group.

It was amazing to be able to witness such a talented orchestra!