Comparison: High School Musical vs. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series

Flashback: It’s January 20, 2006, you’re sitting in front of the TV, as the beginning credits play for the new Disney Channel Original Movie: High School Musical. Now fast forward 13 years (crazy isn’t it?), you have the Disney+ app opened on your device, about to play the first episode of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

Now, if you were a big fan of HSM like I was when you were younger, chances are, there probably was some speculation, wondering if the new HSM would be just as good as the original. In my opinion, I personally think that the new version is actually quite good. It’s not as good as the original, of course, but it isn’t a complete fail.

Basically, the new version is like a musical inside of a musical (if that makes sense). It’s kind of like in Teen Beach Movie, where the main characters were stuck inside of the movie, in the actual movie. It revolves around the kids who attend the actual East High School, and are putting on their own rendition of the musical itself. The characters of the actual show (Ricky, Nini, EJ, Gina, Big Red, Kourtney, etc.), then audition for the parts they want (Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad, Taylor, etc.).

So far, there have only been four episodes released, packed with tons of drama, comedy, romance, heartbreak, and of course, tons of singing. If you were a High School Musical fan when you were younger, the new version might be a little too young for you, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.

-Phoebe L.

Theatre Review: She Kills Monsters

*Warning: This play may not be appropriate to those under age 13 

Recently, my friend and I went to go watch a school play called She Kills Monsters. The play focused around the wildly popular and loved game called Dungeons and Dragons. The play would switch back and forth between “real life” and the game. 

The story was that the main character, Agnes, had lost her younger sister Tilly to a car accident. Before passing, Tilly created her own version of the game in order to escape the harsh and cruelty of the real world. Agnes, still mourning the loss of her sister, finds Tilly’s game and through the help from “dungeon master” Chuck, is able to play the game. 

The game was essentially a version of Tilly’s life told through monsters and different characters that was a part of Tilly’s life, whether they had a positive impact or not. Through the game, Agnes was able to find solace from the loss and was able to find out some secrets about Tilly’s life that she did not know before. The story is filled with action, humor, angst, and some surprising romances that the audience does not see coming. 

Even though I personally have never played Dungeons and Dragons, I loved the play so much and had an amazing time watching so there is no issue if you do not know anything about the game. However, if you do know how to play, it will probably be even more enjoyable than it already is! 

If this play is showing anywhere around you I totally recommend going and watching this! However, as stated in the warning above, some topics in this play might not completely be appropriate to those under 13 years of age so take precautions and enjoy the show! 

-Phoebe L

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

This heartwarming story is not an ordinary book. It is told through the eyes of a dog, Enzo! The book actually begins at the end of the book, or more specifically: the end of Enzo’s life (cue the tears). Enzo knows his time is up, but his owner Denny does not.

Then, the book goes back to the beginning, when Denny first adopts Enzo from a farm. Denny at that point is a bachelor, a professional race car driver. Enzo during his first year with Denny learns a lot about cars and car racing. About a year or two later, Enzo becomes a big brother and protector to Zoë, Denny and Eve’s daughter. Everything seems to be going well until it doesn’t.

*Warning: Spoilers ahead

Enzo silently watches as Eve suffers from constant headaches making her unpleasant to be around. He can sense the illness inside Eve but cannot say anything to warn the family. Eve fights a tough battle, but unfortunately, it is not a fight that she wins.

Denny, fresh-faced with his wife’s passing, is now faced with a custody battle with Eve’s parents who deems Denny as unsuitable for Denny to raise Zoë. He ends up selling his house and giving up racing temporarily in order to do anything they can to take back custody of his daughter.

The rest of the book consists of arduous trials consisting of an accused assault (that was not true), difficulty in getting back Zoë; things just are not going well for Denny. Luckily there is a turn around for Denny at the end; he gets back custody of his daughter, the assault charges are dropped, and gets an amazing offer of a new job as a car test and track instructor in Italy. Eventually, Enzo’s race is reaching an end, and Denny realizes this so he lets Enzo run to a field, where Enzo can run faster and never stop.

I definitely recommend this book but it is a tear-jerker (fair warning)

-Phoebe L.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Film Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

In this action-packed sequel, Tom Holland reprises his role as Peter Parker aka Spider-Man. This movie was as amazing and mind-blowing as the first movie and was a beautiful masterpiece created.

The story starts off in Ixtenco, Mexico, where an unnatural “elemental storm” is investigated by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), where they meet Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal). Back in New York, Peter Parker reunites with his classmates five years after the “Blip”/Snap. Peter’s school arranges a field trip to Europe where Peter plans to confess his feelings towards MJ (Zendaya). While in Venice for his class field trip, the Water Elemental wreaks havoc in the city. Quentin Beck jumps in and destroys the monster and claims that he’s from completely different earth (multiverse) and that the Elementals destroyed his family.

Peter, still distraught over Tony Stark’s death (we still are), begins to see Beck as a mentor and someone that he trusts and ultimately hands over E.D.I.T.H., an artificial intelligence glasses gifted by Tony, to Beck. Beck is revealed to be a former ex-Stark employee and uses projectors in order to portray the Elementals. Peter ultimately battles Beck and ends up killing him and takes back E.D.I.T.H. One of Beck’s assistants escapes and ends up revealing Spiderman’s true identity after portraying him as the one behind all the attacks.

The idea behind this movie, with the projectors and holograms manipulating the eye, was incredible and extremely well thought out and completely unexpected. It caught me completely off guard.

I absolutely 100% recommend this movie and strongly believe that everyone can enjoy this movie!

-Phoebe L.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

For the last couple of weeks, my English class read the novel, The Catcher in the Rye. For a book we had to read in class, it was actually quite interesting to read a book that really captured that teenage “angst” that some teenagers actually go through in real life.

The book is about a teenage boy named Holden Caulfield who is narrating the book and recollecting the past. He touches on touchy topics like the death of his younger brother Allie and of his friend James Castle. We see how he goes through different situations and how he acts upon it.

What was interesting about this book was that since it was all narrated by Holden, he would sometimes over exaggerate the story. However, it would seem that at times, he would lie which was quite enjoyable to read. This novel points to topics such as: social awkwardness, death of close ones, innocence, and finding oneself. The main character tends to struggle with these topics and constantly lies through it all, to the readers, to other people, and to himself.

Another part of the novel I enjoyed was all the different characters that were mentioned in this book. All the people at his school, the people he meets on the streets and in bars, and old teachers and the interaction Holden has with them.

If you have not yet read this book, I highly recommend this novel because it really captures the struggle of adolescents and the overcoming of it.

-Phoebe L.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Places to Visit in San Diego during Spring Break

Recently, my school got out for spring break so my family and I decided to take a trip down to San Diego. For some reason, I thought it took at least four hours to get from Mission Viejo to San Diego but it only took 1 hour and 20 minutes (and that was with pretty bad traffic!)

Before we left, I looked up some places to visit that my family would enjoy and I was satisfied with what I found. Some fun places to visit are: San Diego Zoo, San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley, Balboa Park, Downtown San Diego, Old Town San Diego, USS Midway Museum, La Jolla Beach, and more!

For the San Diego Zoo, adult tickets (ages 12+) are $56 and child tickets are $46 for 1 day-passes. Prices for the San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley are $42 for adults (12+) and $25 for kids ages (4-12). Tickets for children under 4 years old are free!.

For Balboa Park, the One-Day Explorer Pass allows you to visit up to 5 of any museum in the park. For adults (ages 13+), the cost is $46 and for children (ages 3-12), the cost is $27. Just visiting for the day? Choose the One-Day Explorer Pass, which allows you to go to as many as five of the park’s participating museums. The cost is $46 for adults (ages 13+) and $27 for children (ages 3-12). 

Most of the tourist spots in San Diego do not require admission to get it like Downtown and Old Town San Diego, but some locations do.

Overall, I loved visiting the wonderful city of San Diego and I cannot wait to go back! I hope that this article was helpful to those who would like to visit San Diego one day!

-Phoebe L.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The book is in correlation with the Russian Revolution. Each main character of the book represents real people or a group of people during that time. For example, a pig named Napoleon represents Joseph Stalin and is the main “villain” in the book, and so on.

The book is really interesting to read especially if you have an interest in the Russian Revolution but want an easier way to understand the story. It takes what let up to the Revolution and the Revolution itself and used simpler characters and situations to make the even make more sense.

I had a fun time reading this book because, in order to help us understand the book better, our teacher had different tables in the class represent different animals on the farm so what animal you were depended on where your normal assigned seat was. Every day we had English, there would be a “happening on the farm”. That meant like, if there was an animal who died in the book, that table would be “dead” too.

This really motivated me to read the book in order to see if there would be anything interesting that could happen in the classroom/farm.

Once again, if you are interested in the book Animal Farm, I strongly recommend reading it.

-Phoebe L.