Theater Review: Dear Evan Hansen

The Tony-winning Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen is currently on tour around the US, and I was lucky enough to snag tickets for a show in Costa Mesa. I had already listened to the soundtrack more times than I could count, but I was ridiculously excited anyway. Dear Evan Hansen is one of my favorite musicals of all time, and it is the second musical ever that I have seen live. And, let me tell you, it was a treat.

This musical addresses one of today’s biggest issues: teen suicide and anxiety. The main character, Evan Hansen, has extreme social anxiety, and his therapist tells him to write positive letters to himself. However, when he prints a failed version one of these letters (it was very pessimistic) out in his school’s computer lab, Connor Murphy, a fellow student, snatches it from him and shoves him. Later, the characters find that Connor has committed suicide, and they find Evan’s letter in his pocket. They think that the letter is Connor’s suicide note, addressed to Evan, and them Evan and his family friend, Jared, get dragged into a huge mess of lies and deception. Evan and Jared write fake emails to Connor to “prove” that they are friends, and they start a huge project to spread awareness for Connor’s death. Evan even gets together with his long-time crush, Zoe Murphy, who also happens to be Connor’s sister.

However, nothing this perfect can last, especially if it is based on a lie. Evan’s mom finds out about the Connor project and how he has been spending almost every night at the Murphys’ home. The whole charade falls apart, Evan eaves the Connor Project, and he and Zoe break up. Although he and Zoe do make peace at the end of the musical, I was still in tears throughout the entirety of Act 2.

Although the soundtrack was very differet from the actual live musical, both are thoroughly enjoyable. Dear Evan Hansen is one of my favorite musicals of all time for its storyline and beautifully written characters, and seeing it live is not something that I will ever forget. This musical is truly fantastic, and I would definitely encourage seeing it if possible.

-Arushi S.

Titanfall 2 by Respawn Entertainment

Titanfall was a great game, winning over 60 rewards at its 2013 reveal, but Titanfall 2 was definitely was a step up. Titanfall 2 was nominated  for multiple year-end accolades including Game of the Year and Best Shooter awards, by several gaming publications. Just talking about Respawn’s success with Titanfall makes it sound like a good game! Trust me, it gets better.

Titanfall 2’s high success was due to its captivating campaign mode and its various online multiplayer modes. Titanfall 2’s many online modes put it above its first game. You can play Free for all, capture the flag, and attrition just to name a few. You play as a pilot, being a pilot gives you a massive variety of guns and abilities. You have sniper rifles, shotguns, and automatic guns. You can also grapple buildings, run on walls, and turn invisible!

Running and jumping around as a pilot is only half of the game, the other half you play in a titan. Titans are giant mecha-style exoskeletions that will crush the battlefield.  If you played the original Titanfall, you would know that there was only one titan you could play as. In Titanfall 2, you have seven different titans to chose from! But I’ll say no more, so I don’t spoil the game for you.

One final thing that separated Titanfall 2 from Titanfall was its single player campaign mode. In campaign, you play as rifleman Jack Cooper. He hopes to one day become a pilot of a titan. And he becomes a pilot of titan BT-7274, but in a way he did not expect. Together you switch between Jack Cooper and BT-7274 as you try to stop the IMC. I enjoyed the campaign adventure a lot. It has great a great back round and has great storytelling. Plus you get to do things that you would never be able to do in multiplayer.(E.g. traveling in time!) But I’ll let you play the game to find out on your own. This is definitely an FPS you should consider getting. Five star game.

-Brandon D.

Audiobooks for Shakespeare

My AP Literature class just started reading Hamlet by Shakespeare and I have come to realize how audio books can help. Like all Shakespeare plays, Hamlet’s language is difficult to read at best and sometimes people cannot understand what is going on in the story. My class read the first scene in school and my teacher played the audiobook while we read. This made it much easier to understand.

Not only are you able to grasp the tone of the situation as performed by the readers on the audio book, but voice inflection and use of the complex, old words allows for an enjoyable read. I went home and downloaded the audio book off of Amazon so that I could listen and read at the same time for homework, and it truly makes a difference.

The audio book downloads right to your phone as well so you can take it with you wherever you go. I use the Archangel audio book if anyone would like to know. I have never used an audiobook before, however I can say for sure that I understand Hamlet, and actually enjoy it as well now.

-Kyle H.

Want Shakespeare on audio? Downloadable titles are available on Overdrive and Hoopla.

Film Review: Mary Poppins Returns

I was utterly ecstatic when I heard in 2017 that there was going to be a Mary Poppins sequel. My excitement tripled when I heard that it would star not only Emily Blunt, but also Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton, In the Heights, and 21 Chump Street, three of my all-time favorite musicals. So one could say that I had a lot of anticipation for this movie.

However, I was not without my doubts. I was afraid that this new sequel might not fully capture the magic that was definitely present in the first film. Perhaps, I thought, they might use modern special effects to create real-looking penguins for Mary Poppins to dance with. Now, while some would not mind this type of movie, it would ruin the film for me, as the animations in the original Mary Poppins are part of what makes it so special to me.

Yet the movie was perfect. The producers kept the animations of old, and, while there were a brand new cast and an entirely new collection of voices, the spirit of the soundtrack remained the same. They even managed to get a hold of Dick Van Dyke and Meryl Streep for a special appearance. I cried, I laughed, and I related to many of the characters. The plot was fantastic, and while I will try not to spoil, the resolution that Mary Poppins and Jack came up with was the cherry-on-top of the film for me.

Overall, this movie couldn’t have been better, and I strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t already seen it to go do so right now. The beautiful London scenery, the enticing plot, and the cheerful characters are guaranteed to give Mary Poppins Returns a special place in your heart.

-Arushi S. 

Awakening

With this writing piece, I have attempted to give Cayde-6 (RIP), from the games Destiny and Destiny 2, a backstory. Hope you enjoy.


The dying sun slowly drags itself above the horizon, illuminating the slums with its dismal crimson glow. I know I should already be working, but my last job paid well, and I had allowed myself extra rest. A few revelers stumble around the alley, still holding champagne glasses from last night. Happy 2093, I sarcastically think, Another year of wars, chemical leaks, and poverty. 

I know that a select few in the aristocracy are quite wealthy and charitable, but like the sunlight, not much makes it to the lowest levels of the concrete labyrinth. Above, I hear the roar of a transport ship, taking a few lucky people off this wreck of a planet. I need to get working, or I’ll sleep on an empty stomach tonight. I stretch, stand, and make my way into the crowded streets, scanning the throngs for promising “benefactors”. After a few minutes, I spot a likely target.

He appears flustered and busy, not focusing on the hordes around him. His wallet is gone before he even turns around, and in five minutes, I’m having a nice hot breakfast by one of the countless food stands. I still have a few credits left, and I stow them in a hiding spot. I’m going to buy my ticket off this dump someday.

As the day drags on, I meet a few more “generous” commuters, and by the time the red sunlight fades, I’m full and as happy as a street urchin can be. I find my way back to my alley, and am just about to doze off under a tattered blanket when I hear a strange humming coming from behind a scrap pile.

Once I shovel the rusted metal and old parts away, I see a glint of steel-blue. I dig more frantically now, my hopes rising. As I pull away the last piece of rubble, I nearly shout with joy. Beneath the trash lies a small personal spacecraft. It must have accidentally been jettisoned from a transport. But is it functional?

I slip into the cockpit, press a few buttons, and the entire console lights up, bombarding me with beeps and whistles as the systems come online. I am jubilant, not daring to believe my success. This ship is hope, a star in a dark night. My name is Cayde, and I am free.

-Joshua M.

Film Review: The Grinch (2018)

Recently, I saw the new remake of The Grinch, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Now, I have to admit that Cumberbatch was one of the main reasons I decided to see the movie since I have been a big fan of his for some time, but I was also curious to see what the movie industry has managed to come up with since the iconic Jim Carrey version. I was not in the least bit let down.

This remake was, I daresay, a cinematic masterpiece. Not to be dramatic, but every aspect of it went beyond my expectations. It was funny, emotional, and the Grinch himself was ridiculously relatable. I’m going to do my best to keep this review devoid of spoilers, but I can’t make any promises. I’m not usually a fan of themed stories, but Dr. Suess’ works lit up my childhood, and The Grinch has always been one of my favorites.

First of all, I adored the advertising for this movie. The producers’ slogans were aimed directly at millennials and Generation Z. Now, I am part of the infamous “Gen Z,” so I found all the publicity absolutely hilarious, and have been drawn to the movie because of it.

Furthermore, the movie itself enraptured me. Some of my favorite bits were (SPOILER ALERT!!) Cindy Lou Who loyal group of friends, Frank the reindeer’s adorable family, and the Grinch’s Christmas gift for his dog, Max. Also, I really appreciated how there was a narration throughout the movie, and that it was made up of lines from the original book by Dr. Suess, How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Overall, this remake of The Grinch was, in my opinion, absolutely fantastic, from the advertising to the little details within the movie itself.

-Arushi S. 

Avengers 4: Endgame Trailer

Recently, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were hit by two trailers for upcoming films within the same month. Disney’s Marvel released the trailers for their upcoming films Captain Marvel (2019) and Avengers 4: Endgame (2019). Endgame, being the final addition to the multi-million dollar project that is Marvel’s The Avengers, is the slightly more anticipated film.

The first trailer for Avengers: Endgame was released on December 7, 2018, and as of today (December 25, 2018) has acquired 75,832,393 views on YouTube alone. The first frame is the iconic helmet donned by Iron Man, which would have a happy and excited connotation if it were not for the condition of the helmet. As Tony Stark reaches out to the disembodied helmet of his prized Mark 50, the viewer notices that both the piece of technology and Stark himself appear battered and bruised.

Stark begins recording a message for his girlfriend, Pepper Potts, who also runs Stark Industries. He asks tells her not to feel guilty about his impending death: Tony is stuck in the Benetar, the ship used by the Guardians of the Galaxy in Infinity War. Stark explains that he ran out of food and water four days ago and that oxygen will run out in a day. He gives a heartfelt message to his love back on Earth, telling Pepper that he will dream of her as he drifts off. As he ends the recording, the frame transitions into the classic logo for Marvel Studios, but with a gut-wrenching twist: it fades into dust, imitating the results of Thanos’ snap.

The scene transitions to the suit worn by Thanos in Infinity War. Thanos appears in the frame, but only partially: the viewer can observe his right hand, with the gauntlet melted to it due to the raw power released by his snap, brushing against the plant life on Titan 2, which is where Thanos retired to after the battle. The frame cuts to the Avengers headquarters in upstate New York, inside of which are Natasha Romanov and Steve Rogers, the latter with tears running down his face. As Natasha does a voice-over explaining that Thanos achieved his goal of wiping out half the universe, the viewer can see Bruce Banner scrolling through pictures of the heroes who are missing, including Scott Lang, Princess Shuri of Wakanda, and Peter Parker.

The frame cuts to another shot of the Avengers compound, then to broken-looking Thor. As Steve Rogers does a voice-over explaining what everyone has lost due to Thanos’ malevolent mission, the video exhibits Nebula running a comforting hand over Tony Stark’s shoulder. The trailer cuts to Clint Barton; however, he’s in Japan, wearing a leather suit, with a katana, which shocks Natasha as she watches him pull off his mask.

The trailer cuts swiftly to Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanov once more, but this time they’re in an airplane; Steve is back in his old suit, and his rugged beard is gone as he opens his old compass with a picture of Peggy Carter inside. Natasha assures Steve that their mysterious plan will work, and he agrees. The frame cuts to the iconic Avengers logo in purple hues, with the word “Endgame” under it. The logo is made up of the metaphorical rubble left behind by Infinity War.

All of a sudden, the screen goes black, and Scott Lang’s voice can be heard, asking is anyone is home. The footage that matches it appears, and Scott Lang seems to be asking someone to let him in as Steve Rogers comes into the frame and asks if the footage is recent. Natasha Romanov appears beside him, saying quietly that this footage appears to be from the front door of the compound. The image of the Black Widow’s face fades out as the screen goes black except for one word: April, which is when the highly anticipated movie will be released.

-Arushi S.