- ‘Cats’ to perfrom in Pittsburg
Gretchen Burns | managing editor
The Midwest Regional Ballet and American Opera Studio will present the opera “Cats” at 8 p.m. Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 21, at Memorial Auditorium.
The ballet, under the direction of Kaye Lewis, has been practicing for this event since January.
“Cats” is based on T.S. Eliot’s book of poems “Old Possum’s book of Practical Cats,” and tells the stories of alley cats and all their personalities and how they relate to humans.
The musical, which does not include any spoken dialogue, only singing, opened on stage in 1981. The score is composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and has become one of the longest-running musicals of all time.
The show has been performed in over 20 countries and in about 250 cities, including Buenos Aires, Seoul, Helsinki and Singapore. It has been translated into many languages.
The costumes and makeup are iconic for the show. Performer Brock Goban had to wear a painted unitard.
The painting itself took several hours: Each character has a unique costume that could include sweater pieces and fur. Performers had to attend makeup sessions and tutorials.
“At this point, we’ve practiced a lot,” Goban said. He graduated from Pittsburg State University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. “It probably takes me about 30-40 minutes to get ready. With some people it takes longer and with others it takes less.”
Choreography is a thought-out process for “Cats” for the approximately 50 cast members. Kaye Lewis has directed the Midwest Regional Ballet for several years and has worked with the dancers through many occasions.
One of the performers is performing the same part she danced 10 years ago as an 8-year-old. Lewis has been working on this production of “Cats” for over a year.
Goban plays Munkustrap, the narrator.
“I’m the one bringing the audience into the story and the lives of each character,” he said.
The American Opera Studio from Kansas City will serve as guest artists. Goban says he is thrilled to be able to work together with them.
“It’s really cool. We get to meet a lot of new people and work with a lot of people that we wouldn’t before,” he said.
Unlike other performances, “Cats” will only be shown one weekend in Pittsburg.
The next performance by the Midwest Regional Ballet will be “Alice in Wonderland” in the fall of 2013.
- ’42′ much moe than a baseball movie
Logan Qualls | writer
On April 15, 1947, the game of baseball was forever changed when Jackie Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. By breaking through the color barrier in the major leagues, Robinson spurred monumental changes in both baseball and civil rights. The film “42” provides audiences a glimpse into the past of this American hero.
Focusing mainly on Robinson’s 1946 and 1947 seasons, the film begins with Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) discussing with his advisers his plan to bring up an African American to the major leagues.
After narrowing down a list of candidates, he decides on Jackie Robinson. Robinson at the time is playing ball in the Negro Leagues, with the Kansas City Monarchs.
While stopped at a gas station with his team, Robinson is approached by a scout from the Dodgers. Subsequently, Robinson goes to Brooklyn to meet with Branch Rickey who offers him a contract to play for the Dodgers.
With the offer, Rickey imparts a stipulation that Jackie cannot under any circumstances lose his temper.
Robinson accepts the offer, immediately calls his girlfriend, Rachel Isum (Nicole Beharie; “American Violet”) and proposes to her. She accepts and the two are happily married shortly thereafter.
After a successful spring training spent in Daytona, Fla., Robinson makes the cut for the 1946 season with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ farm franchise.
With his growing success with the Royals and impressive spring training in Panama following the 1946 season, Robinson gets his chance to prove himself before the nation.
Battling racism from all angles, Robinson shows that he is up to the challenge and makes history by not only playing with the Dodgers, but also excelling in the Major League.
His accomplishments paved the way for other baseball teams to begin integration in the following seasons.
Chadwick Boseman delivers a stellar performance as Jackie Robinson, portraying the irrepressible spirit Robinson showed on and off the field.
Harrison Ford gives a strong supporting performance with his depiction of Branch Rickey. Ford’s performance showed the depth of love that Rickey had for the game of baseball.
The film did well to fully illustrate the deep-seated level of prejudice and racism that was prevalent during that time.
The scene with the father and son in the stands was particularly powerful, demonstrating that racism is a learned trait, not something we are born to believe.
The cinematography used throughout the film helped to capture the intensity of the history-making 1947 season. Visually stunning, the film captures the audience’s attention with ease.
“42” is much more than a baseball movie. The film captivates audiences and at the same time gives a valuable snapshot of our nation’s history. Much like the player for which this film was inspired by, “42” is built to last.
- These are our confessions
Carl J. Bachus | culture editor
If the Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style are any indication, Pittsburg State is no stranger to the occasional Internet phenomenon.
However, one has been raising eyebrows of late: the Pitt State Confessions page on Facebook.
Founded in March, Pitt State Confessions is just one of the various “confession pages” popping up on the Internet that are associated with universities and high schools around the country.
The account is full of anonymous, candid posts that range from sad or empowering, to graphic and offensive.
“It’s funny,” said Emily Flores, freshman in communication, “I do know that a lot of people are taking it seriously.”
Flores said that she believes the page is hilarious, but she does realize that some of the posts, even though they are anonymous, can be too revealing.
“I don’t have anything against it,” Flores said. “In fact, I think that it might attract more students to the school because of how fun it sounds based on the page. Perhaps.”
Other students, such as Lauren Downing, don’t agree with that sentiment.
“There’s always going to be that kind of Internet drama,” said Downing, junior in commercial art. “I don’t particularly like it.”
Downing says that she believes the trend is already overdone and childish. She also said it reminded her too much of high school.
“Unfortunately, pages like these are becoming pretty common,” said Chris Kelly, associate vice president of university marketing and communication. “We monitor social media pretty closely, so we were aware of it shortly after it became live.”
Kelly says he wants to stress the fact that Pitt State Confessions is in no way affiliated with the university.
He added that pages like it, and like the short-lived “PSU Secret Admirers” and “PSU Burn Book” are not encouraged by the university.
He says that he believes that the official university social media platforms are the true reflection of PSU.
“We work very hard to tell the story of Pittsburg State,” Kelly said. “I’m confident that no one would confuse these parody pages with official university accounts.”
“I think that all universities have negative things like this but I don’t think it’ll affect the school too much,” Downing said. “Wherever you go there’s going to be that kind of talk.”
Some students, however, don’t agree. They say that they believe webpages that display a lack of campus maturity should be taken down completely.
“All that stuff is just ridiculous to me,” said Ryan Taylor, junior in psychology, of the “Secret Admirers” Twitter account. “Some guys were saying some really inappropriate stuff about some girls I knew and it made me pretty mad.”
Taylor added that he believes the pages make the university look terrible and that they could possibly cause prospective students to overlook the university when searching for colleges to attend.
“It’s embarrassing,” Taylor said. “You’ve got kids in high school who might not come… It looks pretty bad on the students who got here.”
Taylor’s opinion isn’t an unpopular one.
“Social media doesn’t always bring out the best in people,” said Keeston Terry, junior in physical education. “I don’t really see the point of the Confessions thing, but if it’s anonymous, there’s nothing you can really do about it.
- A near perfect pop album
Carl J. Bachus | culture editor
2013 seems to be the year of the comeback. From Justin Timberlake to Tim McGraw to Destiny’s Child, once loved acts are coming out of the woodwork to deliver new material to legions of fans who have been waiting for years.
It’s safe to say that of all of the comeback efforts this year, Fall Out Boy’s new album, “Save Rock and Roll,” has to be the least disappointing.
“Roll,” the follow-up to 2008’s less than impressive “Folie à Deux,” is much more fun than any Fall Out Boy’s previous efforts.
It’s all over the place without feeling forced. The LP finds the band catching up with current music trends, but they never make too big of a deal out of it.
A featured rap verse here and a dubstep drop there make for a solid set of inspired tunes with a medley of hooky choruses.
The album is very pop-oriented. The band’s signature, riff-heavy scream and shout motif has been replaced with a more Journey-like sensibility.
The tracks are heavy on the percussion and make pretty good use of echo effects to give certain tracks a sense of epic scale.
Unfortunately, the album isn’t terribly cohesive and, at times, it feels as though some of the songs try a bit too hard to be arena-ready.
Fall Out Boy takes inspiration from a number of different musical avenues. One standout track, the Human League-influenced “Where Did the Party Go,” is particularly groovy.
The mix of synths and frontman Patrick Stump’s vocals make the song a nice throwback to the mechanical, R&B-influenced pop of the mid-80s.
“Roll” also features a diverse mix of collaborators, including Detroit rapper Big Sean, indie songstress Foxes and even Courtney Love.
The lyrical content contains themes of social unrest and anarchy that contrast the instrumental content quite effectively.
Stump’s vocals are on point, as usual. This album, in particular, lets his versatility run wild. Stump can sing up-tempo rock anthems and sweeping ballads and adjust his vocals accordingly. In fact, this may be some of his best vocal work to date.
The album’s best moment, however, comes at the tail end in the form of the epic title song, “Save Rock and Roll.”
The Elton John-assisted track is a true-to-form arena rocker among a few songs that seemed a bit overzealous. The inclusion of John gives the track an undeniable gravitas, and it’ll be a crime if this song isn’t getting heavy radio play by summer.
“Save Rock and Roll” is a mediocre rock album, a decent R&B album and a near perfect pop album. It isn’t going to revitalize the pop-rock genre, but it might gain Fall Out Boy some new fans.
It’s as ambitious as it is eclectic, and is sure to be recognized as one of the band’s best, if not its best album to date.
- Evil Dead full of bloody goodness
Trading laughs for overwhelming amounts of blood and gore, “Evil Dead” proves to be a terrifying addition to “The Evil Dead” franchise.
This reboot of the 1981 cult classic, “The Evil Dead,” is not directly a sequel, but more of a loose continuation of the series.
Much like its predecessor, “Evil Dead” begins with five friends who find their way to an old cabin, deep in the woods. Mia (Jane Levy, TV series “Suburgatory”) is in the process of battling an opiate addiction with the help of her friends, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas).
Also there to lend support are Mia’s brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore).
Leaving Eric in charge of keeping Mia within the cabin turns out to be a bad idea, when Mia escapes from the cabin into the woods. In her absence, Eric discovers a cellar in the cabin as if by chance.
Finding dead animal carcasses and a mysterious book labeled “The Necronomicon,” Eric throws caution to the wind and proceeds to delve into the book, despite clear warnings written all over it.
Eric inadvertently unleashes a terrible and ancient evil, called the Abomination. The tranquil, remote woods quickly turn into a hellish nightmare for Mia, as trees and vines take on a life of their own and begin attacking her.
Her body now possessed, Mia finds her way back to the cabin and reconnects with the rest of the group.
Eric reveals what he has done, yet the group dismisses him as crazy. That is until Mia’s skin turns pale, her eyes yellow, and she attacks the group. The group must now band together to combat the malicious spirit.
Director Fede Alvarez said in an interview that the film did not use CGI (computer- generated imagery) for any of the scenes. Instead, the director relied upon magician tricks and illusion tricks for all of the gruesome spectacles throughout the film.
Regardless of technique, audiences will enjoy the brilliantly orchestrated mayhem.
The film’s score, composed by Roque Baños, intensified the action as the characters desperately attempt to eradicate the malevolent force.
The actors’ performances weren’t outstanding by any means, but adequate.
Audiences expecting a brilliant storyline will need to look elsewhere, as the film sacrifices suspenseful intrigue for copious (almost ridiculous) displays of brutal and bloody torture.
“Evil Dead” can’t claim to be one of the best horror films, but it has a pretty good shot at being one of the bloodiest. Those with a weak stomach would be wise to avoid this film.