Archive | Events

FNL Review: A recipe for laughter

How do you make an auditorium full of Indiana Wesleyan University students laugh? Affectionately bash our most beloved neighbor, Taylor University. Seriously, do it a lot. They will laugh every time; it never gets old.

Paul Hooker (sr) and Josh Davis (sr) host this semester's FNL. // Photo by Wendy Brown

Paul Hooker (sr) and Josh Davis (sr) host this semester’s FNL. // Photo by Wendy Brown

Friday Night Live, the student-run comedy show on campus, has this golden rule of IWU humor down to a science. True to what is quickly becoming an FNL tradition, Taylor was made fun of repeatedly, and it was really funny.

As a sophomore with only two other FNLs under my belt, I can say this comedy show has never failed to provide me a delightful night of entertainment. As a matter of fact, I find myself desperately gasping for breath quite often. This semester was no exception.

This semester’s FNL was a switch from the past ones I have experienced. This year, the videos were generally not as funny as in the past, and the skits were considerably better.

I used to space out through a lot of the skits, just waiting for that moment when the videos were played. Instant classics like “I Got Points” and “Things Not to Say at an Interview” (another example of effective Taylor bashing) are the ones that really stand out in my mind from past shows. The only one that really met the standards of videos in the past was “The Purity of the Rings,” which had this “Lord of the Rings” fan practically rolling on the ground with laughter.

The skits really raised the bar this year. In contrast to past shows where the skits were either to die for or incredibly awkward for everyone involved, the skits this semester were consistently amusing. This means fewer amazing ones, but fewer really bad ones.

The change in FNL cast may account for less ridiculously hilarious moments. The classic Facebook and Twitter segments were lost along with their protagonist, Kyle Davidson (alumnus ‘14), this semester.

In past years, Davidson would read what were already hilarious Facebook posts in ridiculous voices. The Twitter segment was similar to this, except Davidson would sing the posts to the audience while playing a quirky tune on the piano. I spoke to more than one veteran FNL attendee who seemed to be mourning the loss of what was once the highlight of the night.

The beauty of being in college is, however, that as old talent graduates, new talent comes in. Stephanie Charles (fr) particularly stood out.

As a freshman, Charles was not center stage very often, but I can’t think of a single time when she was up there that I and those around me were not laughing. Of all of these, the one that stands out the most is her being dragged off the stage kicking and screaming as Miss New Jersey in the Miss America skit.

Paul Hooker (sr) and Josh Davis (sr) were excellent hosts to the show. Hooker especially stood out in his role as a man giving birth to a football, in a painfully awkward yet somehow amusing skit “Chi Bear Prep.”

The first skit of the night, “Faculty Jeopardy,” was definitely one of my favorites, taking advantage of the comedic opportunities LearningStudio has offered. Dr. Jim “Umfundisi” Lo, Dr. Wilbur Williams and Dr. Chris Bounds were played to perfection by Derek Anthes (so), Nic Kursions (fr) and Hooker, setting the mood for the entire night.

The traditional FNL news segment fell a little flat this year compared to past years. Though there were a few good moments, like a reference to the fountain’s grave and Yik Yak, much of the “news” was met with awkward grumbling from the crowd.

There were several weaker moments throughout the night (though a lot less then I had ever seen before). The only skit that really fell under par was Pi day. By the end, there was a collective “awwww” of pity from the audience, instead of the desired roars of laughter. It almost felt mean to laugh at the ending “punch line,” which made me feel sorry for the person at whose expense I was supposed to laugh.

A definite improvement from past years was the opening dance of the FNL crew. What was once a clumsy yet somewhat amusing dance number is now a hilarious yet well-thought-out and masterfully delivered choreography.

The house band, which is always one of my favorite parts of the FNL experience, was stellar. I especially enjoyed the vocals this year. It is rare to come across a show that can make the time in between skits almost as enjoyable as the main attraction of the night, but FNL managed to do just that.

As usual, FNL was worth every penny of the three dollars out of my broke college student pockets and continues to be one of the things I look forward to the most every semester.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, EventsComments (0)

Michael W. Smith Homecoming Concert Photos

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, EventsComments (0)

Audiences blend at Homecoming concerts

Contemporary Christian artists Michael W. Smith and Shawn McDonald are making their way to Indiana Wesleyan University Homecoming weekend, and their audiences are overlapping in ways they haven’t before.

“We try to select our artists based on age demographics,” Lance Percy, associate vice president for Advancement and Alumni Relations, said.

Smith’s concert is geared toward the middle-aged and older alumni, he said, but this year, more younger people are interested in attending.

“Michael is unique in that way. He kind of crosses over a lot,” Percy said. “A lot of freshmen parents were planning to come back and go with their student. We don’t always have the benefit of selecting an artist with that broad of an appeal.”

The Student/Young Alumni Concert, on the other hand, is created to appeal more to the students and younger generation of alumni — hence, the performance of Shawn McDonald, who began his career in 2004.

The Shawn McDonald Concert, featuring Jordan Brown and Josh Lavender (alumni ‘12), will occur at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, in the Phillippe Performing Arts Center Auditorium.

The concert order will be Brown, Lavender, then McDonald. Brown said she plans on performing a couple of covers of secular pop songs and then three of her originals, including her single “Grace Unexpected,” then probably end on a worship song.

Having talked to Lavender and hearing that he’d be doing a four-piece band style, and knowing McDonald’s recent music as being more pop-sounding, Brown decided to try and balance out the musical stylings. Though her band is typically more electric drums driven, she opted for more of an acoustic feel.

“Imagine Mumford and Sons meets Adele meets Katy Perry — [that’s] the sound we’re going for,” Brown said.

Her band consists of herself on acoustic guitar, Daniel Rife (alumnus ‘11) on accordion, Anthony Francis (alumnus ’10) on banjo, Alex Krupp (alumnus ’13) on cajon, Adam Butler (sr) on percussion, Chelsea Jensen (sr) on glockenspiel, Stacey Fisher (sr) on piano/keys, and Dan Strope (jr) on bass.

“It’s always an honor to play anything at Indiana Wesleyan,” Brown said.

And with Lavender’s May 2013 EP “The One My Soul Loves” and upcoming EP “Hope in Jesus,” Brown says she is excited to reconnect with him as well.

The Homecoming Concert with Michael W. Smith, who came to Marion once before in 1987, featuring IWU Chorale, will occur the following day at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, in the Chapel Auditorium.

The Chorale, made up of 100 student members and 80 alumni members, will be singing as backups for four songs with Smith, according to Percy.

Percy said IWU might get the chance to hear Smith perform some of his more recently recorded music, such as songs from his worship album, “Sovereign,” released this past May, and his first-ever album of traditional hymns, “Hymns,” released in March.

With Smith attracting various age demographics, students and alumni have a better chance to connect this year.

“Indiana Wesleyan is a fantastic university, but the people are what make it the greatest,” Brown said. “Just seeing the people, seeing old friends, reconnecting that way is probably what I’m looking forward to most.”

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, EventsComments (0)

“The Guys” of Grant County honored

Thirteen years ago, journalist Anne Nelson, now teaching at Columbia University, sat down with a New York City fire captain to help him write the eulogies of eight firefighters who died in 9/11, according to an article on the Columbia News webpage.

After hearing their stories, Nelson was extremely moved. Just a few weeks later, on a chance meeting with Jim Simpson, artistic director of the Flea Theatre, Nelson proposed the idea of a play based on her experience with the fire captain.

Eight days later, she’d written her first play, and two days after that, Simpson had scheduled it to be performed. Simpson’s wife, actress Sigourney Weaver, expressed interest in performing it and asked her friend actor Bill Murray (yes, the Bill Murray) to play the other role. Within a week, meetings for rehearsal had begun, according to the Flea Theatre website.

On Sept. 25, the Indiana Wesleyan University Theatre Guild will put on a free performance of Nelson’s play, “The Guys,” for the firemen of Grant County to honor and thank them for their work, some of whom actually went out to New York to help during 9/11.  

The following day, Sept. 26, the play will be open to the public.

Joan, played by Ashley Nossett (sr), interviews fire captain Nick, played by Seth Lawrence (sr), about the men he lost on 9/11. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Joan, played by Ashley Nossett (sr), interviews fire captain Nick, played by Seth Lawrence (sr), about the men he lost on 9/11. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Director Sharla Ball (sr) chose the play for her senior project as “a chance to share a story that I knew most of the audience had been a part of, … and I knew everybody would remember it.” She described it as less of a historical play and more of “a memory play.”

With an uncle who was a career firefighter and a grandpa who was a volunteer firefighter, Ball is most excited for the performances for the fire station. They will also be touring the play, getting another chance on Oct. 10 to perform for Hendricks County fire departments.

The show was cast in May, with Ashley Nossett (sr) portraying Joan, based off Nelson herself, and Seth Lawrence (sr), portraying Nick, the fire captain. They also met with Fire Chief Paul David and Captain Paul Thompson in May in order to start communicating about the performance for the fire station.

To begin their research for the play, Ball and Nossett got the chance to go to New York City during May term and tour a fire department that was just a block away from Ground Zero, right across the street from the towers, and hear one of the fireman’s stories. They saw the plaques on the wall of the station for the men that died in 9/11. They also saw the 9/11 Memorial. They also got to see a show at the Flea Theatre, where “The Guys” was originally performed.

To prepare for the role as fire captain, Lawrence shadowed the firemen of Grant County for a day. Getting up at six in the morning to be at the fire station for roll call, he got to hang out with the firemen, hear their stories, see how the fire truck worked and understand what their daily routine was like. 

“After time, things become diluted,” Ball said. She hopes that the play will be a good way “to remember what it was like back when it happened.” 

“Most of our generation has been living in a society where we’ve been in war since then,” Ball said. “People don’t realize that we’re still living in this era where we’re not at peace.”

Ball said the play is a chance to see what the world was like before 2001, before 9/11 changed everything.

Doing the Tango. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Nick teaches Joan how to dance. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Thirteen years after 9/11, “The Guys” has touched people in multiple ways.

Nelson referred to a Cambodian student who once spoke to her of the performance. The student said, “I just lost my best friend to cancer. This play is about me.”

“Some take it very literally,” Nelson said, “as a piece of history; some take it as a piece about mourning; some about finding friendship. I think where a person is at in life affects how they hear it.”

At the beginning of the play, Joan delivers a monologue about how different people have different degrees of distance from an event, like the ripples of being affected. 

“Everyone’s trying to find their own relationship to the event,” Nelson said.

The play will run Sept. 26-27 and Oct. 3-4 at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays will also have a 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $7 for students, $10 for IWU employees and $12 for adults, according to the IWU Theatre Guild website.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Events, Front Page, Local Stories, On CampusComments (0)

Follow The Sojourn on Twitter