by: Ansley Moore
The technical difference between Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre is the amount of seats in the house. A Broadway theater must have a house of at least 500 seats, while an Off-Broadway theater has between 100-499 seats. Both types of theaters must be located in Manhattan, the geographic stipulation to be considered any sort of “Broadway”.
This distinction shocked me because I was under the impression that the difference would lie in professionalism. It’s a misconception I’ve held all my life, even joking on more than one occasion that some silly skit my friends and I made was opening Off-Broadway next week. But looking back it was incredibly unfair for me to make that judgement because until this past interim I had never seen any Off-Broadway production before. And after attending my first Off-Broadway show- Avenue Q- and the only real difference between that show and every other Broadway show I’ve seen was the house size (as aforementioned) and the budget. The financial gap was made more apparent to me because just days earlier FRA had taken the whole group to see Aladdin, which was truly a spectacle of “Disney Magic”. There was a cast of thirty six people and each one was in spectacularly intricate and detailed costumes, wigs, and makeup that were constantly changing into something more extravagant. They were working with an incredibly versatile set that moved on its own and further conveyed the grandeur of the story. Every cast member has probably spent more time in dance classes than I have spent on Earth because every dance move, stunt, flip, and whatever else was executed to perfection. And the moment when the magic carpet really flew across the stage the whole audience gasped as one. It was truly breathtaking to witness (if only casting could have made the experience my ears had listening to Aladdin sing equally as pleasurable…).
Meanwhile, Avenue Q only had one big set piece that could be manipulated in small ways to convey a new location. Rather than give the eleven person cast extravagant costumes (they were all dressed in black jeans and t-shirts) they were all given an extravagant amount of puppets to work with. There are thirty four puppets in the whole show with some cast members operating as few as five ranging to one of the ensemble tracks (known as the “second handler”) having to operate every single one of them at some point during the show. And the casting department for Avenue Q definitely pulled their weight in choosing performers for such a small show because every actor was perfectly cast and I spent all of intermission gushing about how incredible all of their voices were. The show wasn’t choreographed so much as it was stylized. There were no giant “Friend Like Me” dance breaks, but there was never a disconnect between an actor and their puppet. Even though the expression of the puppets obviously couldn’t change, it felt like you could watch the puppet’s mood shift over the course of a scene just because of how specific the actors were able to make the body language of their puppets match how they (the actor) were moving through that scene.
And even beyond things that we could see on stage, the difference between the scale of the two productions was revealed through things like one of the ensemble members of Avenue Q also being the Assistant Stage Manager to help out their one Production Stage Manager and Stage Manager, while Aladdin needed a PSM, an SM, and three ASMs in order to get through their show. Ticket price also helps to reveal scale because our Aladdin tickets were around $80 each (and those were group tickets so they were cheaper than they would have been if we bought each ticket individually) and we were on the third floor balcony of a theatre that seats 1,702 people- so we were nowhere close to the stage. But for only ten more dollars at Avenue Q we were able to buy individual tickets for front row center, which is considered by most to be the “best seats in the house”. On the other hand, the smaller scale of Avenue Q made it possible for them to host an event like Puppet Prom after the show in honor of National Puppetry Day. Audience members brought their own personal puppets to mingle with puppets from the show, and those of us without our own puppets were given a pair of puppet eyes to join the party with (and based on the picture, you can clearly tell that some of us were more excited about this than others). So if you’re in New York, don’t discount Off-Broadway theatre as a way to take in a show!
by: Jaden Holtschlag
In Miss Saigon, audiences watch as a young Vietnamese woman falls in love with an American Soldier during the Vietnam War. Traveling through many different challenges to find her lover again, she fights to find him so he can take their son to America to give him the opportunity of a better life. Miss Saigon is definitely a heavy show to watch. Everything was so detailed and beautiful and vibrant. However, I did feel that some parts of the story were choppy and unnecessary. Eva Noblezada, playing the female lead, deserved her Tony Nomination in many different ways. From the audience, you can feel her connection with the child actor playing her son as she sings how she will give up everything to save him. Her voice is flawless. The man who plays her lover, Alistair Brammar, has a very strong voice, but you could definitely tell there was some tension between him and Noblezada. One of my biggest issues with this production was the overriding orchestra. In some of the scenes, the orchestra overpowered whole ensembles, who, in my opinion, were already very loud. I was thoroughly impressed by the Engineer, a character who lead Noblezada through Saigon and provides comic relief because he was the understudy. His comic timing was very natural and you could tell he was a comedian and really felt comfortable playing the role.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Waitress- In Waitress, audiences see the truly real struggle of a woman dealing with an unexpected pregnancy and how she falls in love with her doctor. As she walks through this journey, her two closest friends are always there to walk her through, and even fall in love on their own. This show is practically three different stories about three very different women from different situations. Betsy Wolfe delivered a phenomenal performance as the main waitress, Jenna. During one of the more emotional songs, she genuinely started crying. Her two friends provided tons of comic relief being a sassy diva who always gets her way or being an innocent woman who is scared to fall in love. They both fit in beautifully and you can really see the chemistry between them and Jenna. The doctor provided just the right amount of awkward, and was just a very funny character whose nervousness when flirting with the person he liked was very relatable. My only complaint was that the ensemble deserved a bigger part in the show. However, when they were onstage, they always left a memorable impression. The ensemble played many characters and changed very quickly throughout many numbers. Every single change, from the set to props to costumes, seemed very smooth and flowy.
Overall Rating: 9/10
Aladdin- In Aladdin, audiences are entranced by the beauty and elegance shown through all the dancing and singing. The Genie was phenomenal. From seeing the original cast of the production I knew a lot of the jokes from the show, but this Genie added many of his own jokes to the production, which is not the easiest thing to do, especially when trying to make it flow with the rest of the show. As for the three brothers of Aladdin, who are not included in the movie, they truly act exactly like brothers, and you can see how they are really having fun and enjoying sharing the stage with each other. The Jasmine was perfect in every way a princess can be. You could tell she has been performing this role for a while because she has added her own taste to it, and has gotten really deep with the character, making her more than just a selfish princess who refuses to be married, but as a real person with real problems. The costumes were absolutely beautiful and gorgeous, and everything seemed to flow perfectly. There were many quick costume changes, onstage and off, that made everyone in the audience say “Whoa”. There were several times in the ensemble in which certain singing parts overpowered others, and harmonies were lost. There also were some instances where dancers were off tempo or weren’t together, but this only happened a few times. With Aladdin being such a heavy dance show though, these can often be overlooked. The only character I had a problem with was Aladdin. In his acting, there was no depth. It seemed very shallow, and there was no shift in his character from the beginning of the story to the end. I felt as if I was on a roller coaster and instead of going up at the end and back down for the fun ride, we just remained stationary. His singing voice sounded very forced and did not even sound great some times. After a while of listening to it, his voice became obnoxious and I began to get bored. I was extremely disappointed by the Aladdin because I felt that he brought the rest of the show down.
Overall Rating: 7/10
by: Libby Weicker
This is a question everyone is going to have a different answer to based on their personal experiences. Based on my life experience, I do believe that boys and girls can just be friends. I grew up with my dad being a baseball and football coach and an older brother who always was hanging out with his friends. So, naturally, I was always around guys. I spent every summer traveling the southeast going to baseball tournaments, and spending 12+ hour days with sweaty guys. Having guys as friends was a huge part of my childhood. I remember many days playing catch and having races with the guys on my dad’s and brother’s teams. It was normal. That was my life.
Now, I fully understand that this isn’t everyone’s experience. I was more comfortable around guys than girls because that was what I was used to. Without growing up like I did, I might have a different opinion now. If you know me, you definitely know that my best friend of nine years is a girl, but I also have multiple really close guy friends that I’ve never been attracted to or wanted anything more than friendship with. I can’t imagine that this is just a me thing. I don’t know your specific situation, but I’m assuming based on your question that you are both heterosexuals, meaning one likes guys and the other likes girls. I think that friendship is a wonderful possibility if neither of you find the other attractive or want anything more than a friendship with that person. Obviously, if you are friends then you will be compatible in certain ways, but that does not have to mean more than friendship. Boundaries are a key part of friendships regardless of the genders or preferences involved.
There are amazing benefits to having strong friendships with people of the opposite sex. For example, you will have different perspectives of issues, and it provides an opportunity for fascinating conversations. The downside is that people will probably assume that y’all are together, but as long as no one is getting hurt by the situation, try not to let that bother you. People will always talk. The sooner we all learn not to care, the more carefree our lives will get. What it really comes down to is the fact that we all deserve a friend, regardless of their sex. Friends make life more doable. I believe that anyone who wants to be friends can be. As long as positivity is emanating from the friendship, it’s one worth keeping.
by: Libby Weicker
This is a very interesting question because the correct answer varies per person. Going to college definitely propels people in their lives because they are normally given more opportunities based on a higher level of education and networking. Although this normally is true, there are many jobs that do not need a college education to excel at. I do not think that everyone needs college to be successful, but I think that it will be easier to be highly successful in life with a higher level of education, as long as it is in reasonable means. I would highly recommend college to everyone, but I also can fully acknowledge that it isn’t necessary to everyone either. If you are seriously considering not going to college, you should consult your parents, guardians, mentors, and/or counselors because it is a serious decision that can change your life. College is one of the first decisions teenagers get to make for their adulthood, and it should not be taken lightly. Overall, weigh the positives and negatives, and make the right decision for you that will make you the happiest.
by: Libby Weicker
The continuous paradox of humanity. Amazing and terrible. All we want, yet what hurts us the most. Simple and challenging. Heartwarming and painful. We all go through love differently, but it’s also something that almost everyone can relate to. For me, romantic love has always been something that I thoroughly enjoy, but has never been a necessity. I’ve always been highly independent, but everyone wants love to an extent. You are in a very difficult situation. With the limited information provided, I have a few thoughts that I think could help. In making a decision of whether you should break up with your boyfriend of a couple months, I would submit these questions to you to ponder:
Now, moving on to addressing the potential feelings for the ex-boyfriend situation. My advice for this problem is to live your life with no regrets. If you still have feelings for him, tell him. Life is too short to regret something like this. Yes, it is scary to be that vulnerable, but it will be worth it in the end. Love is worth fear. If I were you, which I am not, I would end things with my current boyfriend because he deserves more than someone who may not consider him her first choice. Then, I would have a conversation with my ex-boyfriend about my feelings. I don’t know how y’all ended your relationship, but I would act on my current feelings for him. Ultimately, I think you should do whatever would make you the happiest, and it doesn’t seem like that is going to be staying in your current relationship. Relationships are supposed to make us better as people and add mostly positivity to our lives.
Obviously, there is no perfect relationship without any problems, but being in a relationship should bring you more happiness than unhappiness, and I think that if you are thinking about your ex, there is something missing in this relationship; therefore, it might not be the relationship for you. I hope this resonates with you and helped you in any way. Feel free to keep me updated with anything new that I can help you with!
by: Libby Weicker
Hello! Welcome to my world. My name is Wren Weicker. I am 1 year old and live in Arrington, Tennessee with my family. I love my family very much. My sister, Libby, adopted me about six and half months ago. My previous family loved me too, but I knew they were just my foster family. Now, I have my forever family. WOOF! My dream came true! I didn’t even have to wait until next Christmas to experience snow. My mom and sister were super-duper excited on Monday night for the potential snow coming that night and the next day. I didn’t totally know what to expect, but woof I underestimated everything about it! We woke up to a beautiful snow globe of a world, and it was amazing. Troy and I immediately ran outside and rolled around in this new, cold substance. My feet got a little cold, but I didn’t even notice it because I was having so much fun. Then, Libby woke up and came outside with us, and we went sledding down the driveway! I’d never been sledding before. It was exhilarating. I ran and chased and ran and chased until I had to lie down and take a nap, I was so exhausted. The best part of it all was that it didn’t even end there! We got to have another day after that to play in my new favorite thing. I loved the feeling of it falling on my back as I run to catch up to my brother, the way it feels on my nose as I sniff the grass through it, how my feet slide around on it, and how happy it makes my family. Extra snuggles were given and received in the cold, wet weather, which are my favorite thing. To say the least, I was overjoyed. I hope all of y’all had as much fun as I did! I hope you’ll join me in praying for many more snow days to come!
Until next time,
Love your people like your pup loves you,
by: Laurel Dernbach
“Ich bitte euch ratet mir was besser ist... reden oder sterben.”
Das Heptameron by Margarete Von Navarra
Is it better to speak or to die?
For those that don't know, Oprah Winfrey won the Cecil B. DeMille Award for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment" last Sunday on the Golden Globes. She accepted her award with an inspiring shoutout to all the women who have recently spoken out about their experience with sexual harassment, both mundane and in the lime lit world of Hollywood. When it comes to powerful men sweeping these claims under the rug, Winfrey proudly proclaims that "time's up."
I'll be honest and admit didn't watch the Globes live on Sunday, however after watching back the footage from Oprah's speech here, you can see every women in the audience entranced and empowered by her words. This is the power of truth. When you speak truth with conviction and authenticity, people cannot help but listen. Some people are empowered by this new-wave feminism and comforted by the idea that if something were to happen, there would be a group of supportive men and women behind them. Others, like myself, find it a bit scary. Yes, I'm comforted to know other women have spoken out and if I ever needed to, I could too. This being said, the large amount of #metoos is a bit suffocating, because I can't help but worry that a friend, a family member, or even I, hopefully moving to a big city like Seattle of Chicago in the fall, could be next. Sexual assault has always existed, I am aware of that, but the Time's Up movement makes it seem a bit more real and certainly impossible to ignore. To my dad, a smart and reasonable man, he claimed Oprah’s speech made him feel like he was being “lectured.” The truth is uncomfortable sometimes, difficult to fully grasp. This is also the power of truth. It raises awareness and creates a (hopefully healthy) sense of fear within us, hopefully driving us to, more or less, do better.
Another truth weighing heavy on my mind this week is Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name, a dreamy yet heartbreaking summer romance and coming of age story set in 1980s Italy. The beautiful clash of cinematography (2 hours of the Northern Italian countryside? Uh yes please), music (featuring The Psychedelic Furs and Sufjan Stevens), and flawless acting performances (Timothée Chalamlet is my new celebrity crush), this film left my heart so empty and so full all at the same time. I loved this movie because it's so genuine, telling a story that almost everyone can relate to, at least emotionally. Elio is 17 year old boy is growing up and like most 17 year olds, thinks he's already grown. He doesn't realize how much growing up he really has yet to do-- that's where Oliver comes in. Oliver, an American graduate student staying to study with Elio's family for the summer, teaches Elio what it means to really like someone, and then more importantly, lose them. In the end, Elio's father comforts him by saying, "We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster, that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything - what a waste! … Our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now there’s sorrow. Pain. Don’t kill it and with it the joy you’ve felt." And this my friends, is a brutal truth (at least I know it is for me). It's hard to feel thing sometimes. But the pain can only ever strike as deep as joy-- it's worth the temporary pain to fondly remember the joy.
Truth is powerful. It sparks conversation and lights fires in people’s hearts, from empowering women to recognizing how difficult it is to navigate growing up. Conversations about these real and important things need to be had openly, and home, school, church, wherever you’re most comfortable. Talking about things is how we grow as people, and believe it or not, you have your own truths to speak as well. Being able to have a person or group of people you can trust to say things like “My mental health isn’t good right now,” or “I’m sorry I’m not the friend/partner/child I want to be right now,” is critical to our development. Speaking truth is what makes it possible to process and deal with said truths, regardless of what they are.
“Stets werde ich meinen Freunden raten, zu reden, denn nur wenige Worte lassen sich nicht wieder gutmachen,”
I will always advise my friends to talk, because only a few words cannot make amends.
That is the power of truth.
by: Libby Weicker
I want to begin this column by saying that I personally do not suffer from or experience anxiety regularly. I have had a couple panic attacks in my life, but they have been situationally conceived; therefore, I cannot speak from extreme experience in this article. Because of this, I have reached out to a few of my close friends who have expressed their struggles with anxiety to me. Below, I have included their responses to this question because I believe that comfort comes from understanding that you are not the only one dealing with a problem, and I think they can answer this question from experience better than I can.
To start, I want to define what anxiety is. According to anxiety.org, anxiety disorders share a general feature of excessive fear (i.e. emotional response to perceived or real threat) and/or anxiety (i.e. anticipation of future threat) and demonstrate behavioral and functional disturbances as a result. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are features that can occur in the context of many anxiety disorders and are similar in that both can cause one to feel dizzy, short of breath, or as though there is some sort of impending doom, however panic attacks will last on average 30 minutes, while anxiety attacks can last for days, weeks, or even months. There are numerous strategies for trying to conquer or even just tolerate these attacks, which one of my friends commented on by saying, “Mentally, this year I decided to just relax and take it easy and surround myself with the right people and people that I wanted to talk to versus who I thought was necessarily popular or the coolest to everyone but me. I tried my best to stay calm and collected after tests and quizzes, but yes it is very difficult to deal with severe anxiety.”
Many doctors have different ideas of treating anxiety as well, including mediation, breathing techniques, and therapy. There is nothing wrong with trying to get the help you need to thrive in life. There is no shame in going to counseling or therapy or being prescribed medication, if your doctors deem this potentially helpful with their expert knowledge. In my limited experience with anxiety, meditation and breathing techniques really made all the difference. When it felt like I had absolutely no control over my life or anything in it, I really tried to take deep breaths and remember the truths about my life, and what I knew was constant and stable. Anxiety has the power to control your life, which is the terrifying aspect to it. It can hinder us from truly living out our lives how we want and need to.
I found the second half of your question particularly curious and intriguing. I had never really considered that there could be positives to anxiety. I asked another friend who struggles with anxiety about this and she responded by saying, “The good is that it shows you’re human and that you have cares and fears. Where it becomes dangerous is when it is controlling your life.” She is completely accurate. Having anxiety about something means you have something that you care about, which is a good thing to a degree. Ensuring that it doesn’t control your thoughts and actions is the tricky part. Overall, I believe that there are varying levels of anxiety and everyone experiences anxiety differently. Different techniques of dealing with it work for different people, so I would recommend trying a bunch of different ideas. Give yourself more alone time. Light some candles. Turn on some relaxing music. Take a moment to sit down and hand write a list of things or people that you're grateful for. Don’t be scared to see a doctor and ask for his or her recommendations. Understand yourself. Accept yourself. Be yourself. Believe that you don’t have to control everything for it to turn out correctly.
by: Libby Weicker
Hello! Welcome to my world. My name is Wren Weicker. I am 1 year old and live in Arrington, Tennessee with my family. I love my family very much. My sister, Libby, adopted me about five and half months ago. My previous family loved me too, but I knew they were just my foster family. Now, I have my forever family. Merry Pupmas and a happy Pup Year everyone! I thought Christmas was going to be fun, but woof, I had no clue how amazing it is. My family opened our presents on Christmas morning. This was my first real Christmas with my real family. I got so many new toys from Santa, my siblings, and my mom! My brother, Troy, and I loved playing with and shredding the wrapping paper that was already ripped off presents. I loved everything about Christmas. The tree, ornaments, presents, amazing smelling food, and smiles all around. Everyone seemed happier at Christmastime. Even the mailmen that came every day to the house to drop off the packages and daily mail seemed happier to see us. I made sure that they knew that although it was Christmastime, Troy and I still meant business about protecting our home, but we appreciated their holiday joy. I’m already looking forward to Christmas next year and experiencing it all over again. I heard my family talking about having a white Christmas, which I think means snow on Christmas morning. It did snow a little on Christmas Eve, but not enough to really play in. I hope next year is a white Christmas! I really want a big, fun snow this year to play in with my new family. But, once it snows, I want it to get warm again because I’m not the biggest fan of the cold. I hope all of you had the perfect Christmas, just like I did.
Until next time,
Love your people like your pup loves you,