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‘The Guys’ pays moving tribute to tragedy

by Mallory Tucker

“People who are ordinary in an extraordinary situation — that’s what this is about.”

Knowing vaguely that Anne Nelson’s play “The Guys” was about the events of 9/11 and based off her own experience, I walked in on a very different hour and a half than I was expecting at Indiana Wesleyan University’s Black Box Theatre.

Ashley Nossett (sr) portrays Joan, a journalist, and Seth Lawrence (sr) plays Nick, an FDNY captain, during a rehearsal of "The Guys."

Ashley Nossett (sr) portrays Joan, a journalist, and Seth Lawrence (sr) plays Nick, an FDNY fire captain, during a rehearsal of “The Guys.”

Expecting a New York City stage scenery, I was surprised to be opened up with Ashley Nossett (sr) who plays Joan, a distressed editor on the Upper West Side of NYC, standing in the middle of a living room.

The set consisted only of what you would find in an average living room, along with rustic newspapers hanging from the ceiling at a distance.

The play features a two-person cast. The male lead, Nick, came out shortly after Joan’s introduction. Nick, a grieving New York City Fire Department Captain played by Seth Lawrence (sr), was seeking a writer to help him write eulogies for several men on his crew who died during the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

One by one, Nick and Joan slowly analyzed each deceased life of the FDNY crew members in order for Joan to write an effective eulogy for Nick to read at the funerals.

One specific thought ran through my head throughout the entire duration of the play:

“Lawrence cannot be a senior in college!”

Had I not known Lawrence was playing a part in a play, I would have bet money that he truly was the captain of a fire department in the uniform he wore on stage. Lawrence looked the part perfectly, not to mention double his actual age. Kudos to the costume and hair/makeup designers.

The setting of this play is approximately two weeks after the attacks on 9/11. Contrary to what I was expecting, “The Guys” displays the agonizing anguish and grief the events of 9/11 caused friends and family of the lives lost during the attack, rather than the initial incident itself.

Throughout the play, the scenes flashed back and forth between Nick and Joan’s conversation and Joan’s soliloquies.

Suddenly, a scene would break and the spotlight would shine upon Joan as the audience was given insight on her perspective of the tragedy as an outsider looking in. Nossett did a remarkable job professing her long lines to the audience with such a dramatic flare that could keep a person absorbed for hours.

10410432_846805905343262_4116076101690966037_nIt was apparent to me that the play was not only portraying the detrimental effects of 9/11 on survivors or survivors of the deceased, it was a play about the effects of the tragedy on Americans as an entirety.

The set and the costumes were basic, but I was impressed at how powerful and emotional Lawrence and Nossett made the play despite the simplicity.

“The Guys” is about such a critical event in American history and required a serious tone for the bulk of the performance. The solemnity made it difficult for me to relate to the limited bits of humor the script entailed.

Though lacking in humor, I was far from disappointed by the dramatics.

I believe the two-person cast did an incredible, professional job as they spoke for ninety minutes straight with no break. They managed to portray an inspiring amount of emotion for the audience to experience.

Multiple sniffles rang through the audience, including my own, as the power of the story spoke to each of our hearts.

I left the theatre thinking hard about my own experience and memories from 9/11. “The Guys” is a play IWU can expect to be proud of.

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Friday Night Live review: A punny hub affair

For years comedy show Friday Night Live has captured the little black hearts of the Indiana Wesleyan University student body. While this fact is not to be taken literally, a night outfitted with puns cultivated a unique evening filled with comedic bliss.

FNL 2K14 233A rush of guilt swept through my body as I sat amidst the artificial fog and smooth crooning of House Band vocalist Nick Anderson. It’s not very often students get to enjoy comedic performances and sexy jazz in the Chapel Auditorium, so to battle my conscience, I reverted to the ol’ Wesleyan motto, “What Would John Wesley Do,” (WWJWD).

If my Wesleyan knowledge serves me correct, Mr. Wesley probably would have stayed to giggle with his friends below the moonlit stained glass crucifix, just like me!

As the auditorium grew dark, eager whispers carried throughout the aisles as guests attempted to predict what was to come. It was in this time that the FNL crew performed a dazzling choreographed light show, intriguing the audience with humor, talent and the unexpected.

Speaking of unexpected, the FNL crew was gracious enough to address the elephant in the room by inviting the Taylor student (Paul Hooker (jr)) who tackled Wesley the Wildcat onto the stage. As a special treat Wesley blindsided the student by tackling him to the ground. The audience really enjoyed this, cheering and clapping as Wesley raised his hands in victory.

It’s safe to say I was a little disappointed this semester. Not that each skit didn’t earn a few giggles or two, but I was expecting more standout roles from Rich Costello (sr) and Kyle Davidson (sr). Davidson was masterful while performing his infamous Facebook poetry and Twitter song segments, yet smaller roles throughout the program restricted his comedic charisma.

While Costello made the most of his brief appearances in the “Full House” spoof and video shorts, a lead role in an act would have added to the special charm of the semesterly event.

However, Jon-Marc Ream’s (sr) return of Sassy Sam was wonderfully intriguing. This time around, Sam recruited a flamboyantly sassy crew to perform some overly charismatic moves in competition with bold basketball actress Ashley Gallaway (sr) and her squad. I couldn’t help but think of the prison yard cheerleaders in Adam Sandler’s “The Longest Yard” as each member of the Sassy Crew twitched and announced themselves proudly in colorfully lewd apparel.

I do applaud the writers this semester for their creativity and originality throughout each act. Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the night came during “the proposal” skit.

Josh Larson (sr), Natalie Theriot (so) and Davidson acted as judges for an FNL proposal

tryout, poking fun at the IWU alum who proposed to his girlfriend during a show in 2013. The contestants in the act tried to prove to the judges that they were sound candidates to propose to their girlfriends.

One by one each of the three contestants performed their best interpretation of how they would propose. When the skit was concluding, non-cast member Daniel Martin (sr) rushed the stage from behind the curtain and asked if he could perform one last tryout. Gasps and anxious banter from the audience filled the auditorium as Theriot agreed to let him go. Martin proceeded to call his girlfriend  (Jeanette Logan (sr)) from the seats to join him on stage and she quickly found her way to the front. Lights dimmed, camera phones flashed and Martin dropped down to one knee, seemingly professing his love._MG_8131 copy

No one was expecting what Martin did next; instead of proposing, Martin simply asked the girl to go on a date with him to Kokomo. She agreed and the couple quickly bolted off stage.

The entire audience was left in awe and disbelief. The FNL crew knew they had one chance to pull this off, and they succeeded.

The fake proposal certainly wasn’t the only highlight of the night. One of the most well-rounded skits performed was the FNL News segment. Brothers Grant (sr) and Graham McClanahan (so) continued their play on words from previous segments by poking fun at Canada and the Sochi Olympics. The breakthrough moment of their routine came when the brothers announced that a third candidate was involved in the SGA election. Grant proceeded to introduce two short videos, playfully mocking the current presidential candidates Tim Scurlock (jr) and Caleb Bowers (jr).

One clip portrayed Scurlock as a communist, plastering photos of Hitler and questioning

Scurlock’s use of #onebody #onevoice in his campaign. Bowers’ clip portrayed the presidential candidate as incompetent, twisting posts from his campaign page asking “What is SGA?” I loved this, and I think it puts a realistic perspective on how the student body actually feels about the upcoming election.

The Sojourn even made a cameo early on in the evening through the “Jackass” parody video Physical Pain Vol. 2. Throughout the video, the FNL cast attempts to do cheesy things to inflict physical pain, one attempt included physically reading The Sojourn. The audience, including myself, roared with laughter.

To further help FNL screenwriters for next semester, I thought it would be fun and creative to suggest recommendations for Physical Pain Vol. 3 from their recent archives.

“History of Women”: The predictably loud and obnoxious IWU classroom skit utilizing loudness and short shorts.

“Full House” Spoof: Tickle me Elmo emerges through actor McClanahan, utilizing loudness, cross dressing and broccoli.

Honorable Mention:

“The HUB Exchange”: This skit was clever, utilizing the well-known IWU Biz establishment as the grounds of trading husbands and locking them in cages like pets.

Not every team has a perfect game, and the skits listed above would fit perfect in next year’s segment of Physical Pain.

A solid positive from the night included music video “I Got Points” which simply exuded the creativity of the writers and provided a solid reflection of the talent involved in the cast. Each semester the videos really aid in providing a great spin to the program, and this year was no exception.

FNL 2K14 455

Overall, this FNL was bittersweet. Perhaps producing a walk of fame to the Phillippe Performing Arts Center would do some justice in remembering the many seniors who have given their blood, sweat and tears to such an honored tradition at IWU. Grant Yoder (sr), Grant McClanahan (sr), Kari Jenkins (sr), Gallaway, Costello, Ream, Larson, and Davidson will sadly not return next fall.

This cast has provided so many smiles and memories, with each member bringing their unique individual styles to the stage. It’s depressing to see them go, but looking back at the legacy and the talented underclassman they’re leaving behind, I think there’s only room to improve.

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The Lego Movie review

The most remarkable thing about “The Lego Movie” is how easily it could have been awful.

It could easily have been just another cash-grab of a movie with no substance. It could also easily have been just another computer-animated comedy with nothing to really make it stand out. But thanks to directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, an astounding cast and a plot that hits all sort of emotional tender spots, “The Lego Movie” is the first must-see movie of 2014.

The movie takes place in an idyllic world made from Lego bricks, and follows an ordinary, rule-following construction worker named Emmett (Chris Pratt). Emmett’s a cheerful guy, content to live in the seeming utopia created by President Business (Will Ferrell).

This perfect world is turned upside-down when Emmett finds a mysterious artifact. Not long after that, he finds himself arrested by President Business’ right-hand man, the bipolar Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson, sounding more Irish than he has in his entire career). Turns out, President Business is secretly Lord Business, who has a diabolical plan to destroy the world as the Lego people know it. The artifact Emmett has found is the one thing that can stop his plan in its tracks.

Fortunately, Emmet is rescued by a rebellious young woman named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and embarks on a quest to stop Lord Business and fulfill his destiny as “the Special.” Sounds easy enough, but Emmett’s actually not all that special, and a couple bricks short of a brain cell.

Fortunately, an esteemed group of legends called the Master Builders have his back. They possess  the power to build things out of random objects, and have been fighting Lord Business for years. The group consists of a huge list of licensed Lego characters, most of whom have no faith in Emmett. The ones who do stick by him are Wyldstyle, Batman (Will Arnett), wise sage Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), Uni-Kitty (Allison Brie), and Benny the 1980-Something Space Guy (Charlie Day).

“The Lego Movie” has no shortage of humor, and keeps it coming at a steady clip. The dialogue is snappy, but some of the funniest jokes are sight gags that may not even have been intended to be funny. Details like a  hair flip consisting of the plastic hair piece twisting back and forth on the character’s head help make this movie.

One of the best qualities of “The Lego Movie” is its self-awareness. It is completely aware that it is a movie about a big corporation and has a decidedly anti-corporate vibe. It doesn’t completely break the fourth wall and acknowledge that it is a movie, but it does brush up against it a few times.

By the time of the climax, it’s become clear how deceptively deep “The Lego Movie” is. Its message is about the conflict between conformity and creativity. In a world where people always stick to the directions, Emmet has to learn to deviate from the directions and create on his own. But this message also takes a different meaning in light of the climax. It actually seems to change messages, and the viewer is left wondering which one they’re supposed to walk away with. This is perhaps the movie’s biggest shortcoming: towards the end, it gets a little unclear, and the message is lost in what transpires.

The inevitable question is how this film compares to other computer-animated features from companies such as Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks. To be perfectly fair, this movie plays a different ballgame than most other animated movies. Comparing “The Lego Movie” to something like “Frozen” just doesn’t work. Something else worth noting is that this is the first movie to come out of Warner Bros. new animation unit Warner Animation Group. If “The Lego Movie” is any indication, we should expect great things from them.

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‘No Exit’ review: A thought-provoking play

DSC_9434When a person speaks about hell, what is the first thought that comes to mind?

Despite the depiction of fire and brimstone typically used to describe the atmosphere, the Indiana Wesleyan University Theatre Guild’s depiction of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit” takes away these elements and strips it down to something much more simple and haunting.

When I walked through the doors of the Black Box Theater, a sunken-eyed ghoulish character dressed in a bellboy outfit greeted me. I noticed the main stage and saw the eerie cagelike structure that housed several seats and a fire pit in the center.

After the bellboy, played by Bradley Dennis (fr), gave his introduction, he brought out a man dressed in circus garb named Cradeau. Cradeau, played by Seth Lawrence (jr), talked briefly with the bellboy and asked important questions about where he was and what was going to happen to him.

The bellboy brought Inez and Estelle, played by Kandra Johnson (so) and Rachel Beckner (sr), respectively, to the stage soon after Cradeau.

Through several attempts at blocking out the others, the characters realize they are unable to ignore what is going on in the cage.

The three shared details from their past lives and visualized the people still living on Earth.

After the space becomes unbearable, the three resign themselves to their eternity that will be spent in a place of contempt and misery.

DSC_9465Dennis portrayed the bellhop as a creepy host and did a great job breaking the fourth wall by interacting with the audience.

Beckner, Johnson and Lawrence kept the play interesting despite no scene changes, which can be a difficult feat to carry out.

The stage design, which looked like the bones of a giant circus tent complete with a ring in the center, was perfect for the setting. It was a great representation of what the playwright was trying to portray and also set the stage well for the costumes.

The costumes looked like they had been pulled directly from a big top circus. Though I didn’t think of a circus when I first viewed the stage, I saw the connection as soon as Cradeau entered.

I also enjoyed the music chosen for the play. The song played at the beginning set the tone and the Modest Mouse song at the end was a smart choice for the bows.

Throughout the play, I found myself constantly on the edge of my seat, rigid with fear for the characters and wondering what would happen to them. The play made me think about my own view of eternity as well as what other people who may not share my beliefs would think. I was left with a feeling of sadness for people who are lost and may be destined for an eternity of hell.

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