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“Mockingjay – Part 1″ movie leaves audience hungry for more

Going into the theater last night, I had some doubts about “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” mainly because I felt that it wasn’t necessary for the movie to be broken up into two parts. Most readers of the books feel the third installment of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is the most boring one, and I feel that way as well.

My thoughts definitely changed as I watched the movie.

Director Francis Lawrence added a few more details and scenes to the movie, which I think helped the story. I am glad he made it into two parts, because the previous two movies took too many important details out.

It starts out with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), now having survived two Hunger Games, underground where District 13 is, confused and in recovery from the Quarter Quell. She is learning that District 12 is destroyed, and her best friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), rescued as many people as he could, including her sister, Prim (Willow Shields), and mother (Paula Malcomson).

I enjoyed how “Mockingjay – Part 1” emphasized the relationship between Katniss and Prim and Katniss and Gale more than the previous films. It showed more of how Katniss is always looking after her little sister, Prim, who she volunteered to replace in the first Hunger Games.

Before seeing this third movie, I was always “Team Peeta” and did not want Katniss to end up with Gale. But these two characters change dramatically in “Mockingjay,” as Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), thinks differently about Katniss and District 13’s revolt against the Capitol.

In the first two films, Gale had very little screen time, so I hadn’t formed much of an opinion about him. But in this movie, he’s always protecting Katniss and her family, comforting Katniss as she is recovering and showing his real feelings and emotions for her that will make you want to become “Team Gale” — and as always, he looks good doing it.

Throughout this dark and intense movie, two characters provide some comic relief: Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), Peeta and Katniss’ mentor, who is now sober for the first time, and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), their escort, who is trying to transition from Capitol life to living underground in District 13 without her makeup, wigs and elaborate costumes. This is a major change from the book as she is only in it for a short time.

Lawrence portrayed Katniss perfectly in this movie, and I think she has improved with playing this character since the first film. She looked terrible and even a little bit scary — but it was great for the movie. You can see her pain and understand how messed up these Games have made her.

If you are planning to see “Mockingjay – Part 1” this weekend, I would recommend re-reading or re-watching the end of “Catching Fire” so you remember exactly what is happening because there is not a refresher in the beginning of the movie.

Also, if you are an avid reader of these books like myself, keep in mind it will not completely match up to the book, so you will also be surprised by some of the scenes.

Lastly, be prepared to have your knees to your chest with a nervous feeling in your stomach the entire movie as Katniss and District 13 attempt to bring down the Capitol and save their loved ones — or maybe that was just me.

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“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Review

The Indiana Wesleyan University Theatre Guild will be having its first performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” 7:30 this evening, Nov. 13. With IWU’s unique approach to this play, these Grecian lovers, bumbling laborers and mischievous fairies bring Shakespeare’s comedy to life in the school’s own own Phillippe Performing Arts Center.

The play begins outside the Black Box Theatre. In an ideal performance, the cast would perform this first part of the play in the main lobby of the PPAC, but on nights when the auditorium is being used, as on the evening I saw it, the beginning takes place in the hallway right outside the Black Box.

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Braden Hunt (sr) plays King Oberon and Sharla Ball (sr) plays Queen Titania.

With the audience standing, the bright lighting, the whirring of the drinking fountain and the green “Exit” signs and metal doors, it was difficult to suspend our belief and transport ourselves into Athens, Greece, when everything around us screamed “we are in a hallway.” The awkwardness of the unusual surroundings seemed to reflect in the actors as well, as they seemed slightly uncomfortable in the hallway setting. I can only hope that when it gets to be performed in their intended place of the main lobby that things come off a little bit better.

Right away, even in this awkward beginning part, Gloria Billingsley (fr) stood out in her character of Hermia. She was so delightfully animated that not even the glaring lighting or hum of the drinking fountain could upset her performance.

And boy did it put a smile on my face to see the next group of actors: Peter Quince and his band of “rude mechanicals,” as Puck refers to them. In the script, where some of the mechanicals with lesser lines seem to not be very distinct from one another, each of these characters had their own quirky mannerisms and personalities, which made them just so fun to watch.

Chelsea Haskett (so) especially stood out among them as Flute. With her knee-buckled walk and her tucked-in chin, she was the most amusing to watch. For such few lines, especially in the beginning, she really grabbed the audience’s attention.

Braden Hunt (sr), too, demanded our attention amidst the group of rude mechanicals, though his part was quite a bit more overt than Flute’s. As Bottom, Hunt was hilarious, boisterous and outrageous. With his wide movements and exaggerations of character, he also was a delight to see perform.

After about the first 30 minutes spent in the hallway, we moved to take our seats in the Black Box, or the “enchanted forest.” I was a little disappointed in the set, however, as it didn’t really look like an “enchanted forest” to me at all. There were no trees or plants to be seen. While the appearance wasn’t ideal, the actual design of the set was very unique and intricate.

The design of the set possessed some very cool features that allowed for fun, surprising touches, and very interesting and creative entrances, exits and interactions on stage. So while they used the design of the set very well and very creatively, it simply didn’t come off as an enchanted forest.

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Morgan Hause (fr) plays Puck.

The music didn’t help with that either, however, as it sounded more like African tribal music, more appropriate for “The Lion King” than an enchanted forest in Greece.

The actors portraying the fairies of this enchanted forest wore masks throughout the play, which was a great way to give them a more magical-like appearance and set their world apart from the humans’.

While I’m not sure about the use of masks in theatrical performances as a whole, since they cover up half of the face, which is a major tool for actors and a way in which the audience connects with them and sees their acting, the masks were well-done and the actors used them very well.

Puck, one of these masked beings, didn’t come off quite as I was expecting him to, seeming more like King Oberon’s creepy servant than the freewheeling, mischievous sprite that I thought him to be.

There was a 10-minute intermission before the last half hour of this two and a half hour long play. This last thirty minutes, which consisted of the play-within-a-play put on by the rude mechanicals, while fun, dragged on quite slowly.

The Theatre Guild did some really interesting, unique things with this play. As with any performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” it requires complex and intricate settings, costumes and carefully-crafted character interactions. And as with any Shakespearean play, it is no small feat to put on. The Theatre Guild and everyone who was involved in the play did a great job and really made it their own, a unique artistic creation to IWU that I recommend everyone see.

Showings are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13-15 and Nov. 20-22 and 2 p.m. Nov. 15 and 22 in the Black Box Theatre in the PPAC. Admission is $7 for students, $10 for IWU employees and senior citizens and $12 for adults.

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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.

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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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