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: Jaden Holtschlag
Many people do not understand the whole after school process for someone who participates in sports and also the arts. Starting from the bell at 2:45, I have up to 30 minutes to go and talk to teachers or take a quiz or test if I am behind. At 3:20, I get changed for cross country and put on my shoes and (depending on the day) head towards the track for a workout. I do a mile for warmup and then stretch to get my body prepared. On this particular day, the cross country team did a system called the ladder, which means starting at 1000 meters, you decrease by 200 meters and you get a minute of rest in between (1000, 800, 600, 400, 200). I normally get done with all of this at 4:30-4:45.
After running, I have to go straight to rehearsal, where we are doing a sitzprobe. At a sitzprobe, the whole cast sits in a circle and we sing through every song in the whole show with our wonderful pianist, Nathan. Once I sign in, I get on stage, join the circle, and warm up my voice. If Erica, the music director, notices any incorrect harmonies or actors not singing loud enough during the sitzprobe, she will work with the specific group to get the harmony ingrained in their brains. After this we split rehearsal, which means Mrs. Mundy, the choreographer, takes a group of dancers and works with them on the number. Meanwhile, our fabulous director Mr. Bolen observes as we do a chunk of 4-5 scenes with blocking, music, and choreography, and after we finish, he gives us notes, and we do it all again.
Yes, it is a lot of repetition, but each time, you get to bring something new to the table, and Bolen will tell you if he loves it or hates it. After rehearsal, which tends to end at 7:30-7:45, all cast members expect an email from Shannon, our wonderful stage manager, which includes the rehearsal schedule for the next several days and a list of all things that have to be completed behind the scenes. Once I get home, I normally work for around 1-2 hours on homework, and get ready for bed at 10. Although the show is only 2 hours, many people don’t consider the countless late nights we spend rehearsing it the 2 months before the show opens.