Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

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Improv Competition

On Saturday, March 20, James Madison University’s Improv Club traveled down I-81 to “duke” it out with Radford University’s Improv Club at the first-ever Improv Competition. The hour-long competition took place in Porterfield Hall’s Studio Theater in front of a jam-packed audience of around 80.

The event kicked-off at 8:15 pm when House Manager Katie Beliveu introduced Improv Club President Eric Temple, who served as the “referee” and went over the rules of the night. According to Temple, the audience would determine the winner of each round by cheering for the group they liked better. Each round was worth one point, and whoever ended with the most points at the end of the night would be crowned the winner. Temple also made it clear that both teams could use audience members in skits at their disposal, stating that “nobody in the audience is safe.”

The first round consisted of three skits: “Should’a Said,” “Pan Left/Pan Right,” and “Kwaze Kwest.” After a halftime performance by the RU Rockers, and a five-minute intermission, the teams finished up with three more skits called “Space Jump,” “Mission Improbable,” and “Instant Replay.” The competition ended with a tie, after RU won “Pan Left/Pan Right” and “Mission Improbable,” JMU won “Should’a Said” and “Space Jump”, and “Instant Replay” and “Kwaze Kwest” both resulted in ties.

While the overall result was a tie, there’s no doubt that the JMU team was better. Sure, both teams were good in their own respects, but the JMU team just had something that Radford didn’t. JMU was definitely better at thinking on their feet (which at the end of the day is what improv really is) and they were just all around funnier. While RU improved as the night went on, they made a few slips at the beginning of the competition, especially during the Should’a Said skit, where there were a few awkward pauses while they thought up what to say next.

The fact that JMU’s team actually had girls participating really helped them. There are plenty of girls in the Theatre Department, so it was a little disappointing to see there weren’t any representing RU on the Improv Team. Guys and girls don’t always share the same sense of humor, so it was refreshing to see the different genders play off of each other. Some of the girls on the JMU team were even funnier than the guys, especially when they did their “manly” impressions (which is far more hilarious than boys doing “girly” impressions).

As cheesy as it sounds, everyone was very welcoming to the JMU team. When the RU team first entered the studio, there was an overwhelming amount of cheering, leading me to think RU would win, hands-down.

Sophomore Adam Taylor expressed the group’s general sentiment when he said, “I’m just going to vote for the team who performs the best,” during intermission.

Not only did the audience vote for JMU when they did a better job, but they also respected them the entire time, never booing or taunting them.

Overall, the night was extremely entertaining. The evening ran surprisingly well, considering it was the first competition the Improv Club has held. Hopefully the next one (which may include even more teams, including Christopher Newport University, The University of Virginia and Virginia Tech) turns out just as well.

Cover and story photo by Arielle Retting

Looking to the sky

The sky is clear tonight,
as I look into its great space.
Remembering how far you really are,
and knowing that the closest thing
to you is the stars at which I gaze.

That one shines so bright.
Hoping you’re in the same place,
looking at the same star.
Hoping it will bring
me out of this haze.

Such a beautiful sight
I could never replace;
wish I could capture it in a jar.
On this moment I want to cling
and be in a daze.

This would be right
if I could see your face,
but you are so far.
What will this bring
for the rest of our days?

-Kasey Sutphin

Cover graphic by Alex Morgan

“The greatest show on earth” falls short

If your childhood was anything like mine, you went to the circus. You went and loved it. At the start of spring break, I went back to the circus. I was so excited. I had been contemplating the possibility of joining the circus after college. My whole family went, and the anticipation was half the fun. We sang every song in the ride down that had anything to do with clowns, animals or anything circus related. We were all elated when we walked into that stadium in Knoxville.

When you get tickets to see a Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey circus, you expect a lot. After all, it’s advertised as “The Greatest Show on Earth.” You expect three rings, exotic animals and intensely talented performers doing stunts you don’t see every day.

Now, either the world has gotten more talented, and we see these things daily, or the circus has gone way down since I was little. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the circus and will always be willing to go see one. However, I think P.T. Barnum would be rolling over in his grave after Saturday’s performance. The ringmaster walked out in jeans and a t-shirt. The costuming was nothing like it used to be. They were all wearing clothes that could be bought at the gift shop or Forever 21. There was only one ring for the jean-wearing ringmaster to manage. It was bright and colorful and that one ring was special. However, it was nothing compared to the old three-ring circuses.

The clowns came out and only one of them was dressed semi-funny. One had on a suit, and one had on regular clothes like any teenager in the place. No big red noses, no crazy hair, no big shoes. It was disappointing that even the clowns had changed. The one that was dressed semi clown-like rode a tricycle, but that was the only familiar thing about the clowns. I missed the old clowns with the throw-a-pie-in-your-face laughs.

The talent was also lacking from the show. The tightrope walkers fell off the tightrope, and it was only six feet off the ground. There were two girls that showed up throughout the show that did nothing. One attempted to walk sexy and failed at it. She walked like she had to go to the bathroom really badly. One clapped offbeat and tried to do a [cha-cha step]. There was only one trapeze artist, but he was entertaining. There were also men who jumped on see-saws skyrocketing another man into the air. The man in the air continued to flip and landed in a chair that another man was holding. They were the most entertaining part of the show. There were also two women who hooked their hair to hooks, suspended themselves in the air, and turned around by their hair. It just looked painful. This circus also had bad magic. The ringmaster attempted to saw a woman in half, but he accidentally revealed the secret.

The lions looked bored. None of them looked like they wanted to be there very much. There were toucans, parrots, cats and dogs, but none were as entertaining as the elephants. The elephants will always be the stars of the circus. The one thing lacking from the elephants’ part of the show was the cool costumes they used to put on the elephants. I missed seeing the sparkly drapes that adorned the elephants of old.

I don’t know whether it was the memory of the circus that was better or the actual circus. I will always love the circus and will attend the circus when it comes to town, but this circus didn’t measure up to my expectations. My dream of being a tightrope walker on the high wire will always be in the back of my mind. I bet Barnum and Bailey wish they could take their name off the bill. Too bad “The Greatest Show on Earth” is no longer that anymore.

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons

Midnight Trip

I previously worked with many musicians, capturing them at their finest. The band Midnight Trip was one of my favorites, mixing blues, funk and rock, entertaining their audiences in local spots like this one, “The Warf,” Warrenton’s Aquatic Recreation Facility located in Warrenton, Va.

20-year-old Jesse Jorgenson (pictured) plays lead guitar and continues to work on his music, even after the band split as members moved in different directions.

Cover and story photo by Katherine Wilk

Dance department celebrates women’s work

Every year the dance department of Radford University presents Paradigm Shift: An Evening of Women’s Work. In honor of Women’s History month, the Dance Department performed a celebration and representation of the work, struggle and background of women’s history in collaboration with the Women’s Studies Commitee. All choreographers and performers for this show were women who work hard daily to have their skills and art appreciated. This year’s choreographers are comprised of juniors and seniors from the dance department as well as Danah Bella Danceworks, a separate dance company that often contributes dancers and performers to RU productions.

The show began with a solo, choreographed and performed by senior Traice Collier. Her piece was modern, with a hip-hop influence and included striking music selections that added excitement and versatility to the piece.

The next performance was a group piece by senior Rebecca Brewer. Dancers included Brewer, sophomore Caitlin Ressegue, junior Courtney Meade, sophomore Emily Snow and freshman Emily Lee. This particular piece had great costuming. Performers wore the same dress with black tights, but each dancer wore a different color of the dress. It really added a dynamic feel, and visually it was a pleasure to watch.

Followed by Brewer’s group performance, junior Haley Schmitz performed a solo that encompassed great musical selections and a raw representation of women’s work. There was one particular instance where Schmitz appeared to be mimicking a house-bound wife and utilized that representation as fuel to depict the frustration and stereotype labels placed on women throughout the decades.

An additional solo followed, however it was different from the other pieces in the show in the fact that it was a clogging number. Sophomore Cherylann Ward performed a clogging routine that contained fancy footwork and intricate sounds. It added an Appalachian feel to the show, as well as diversity in the dance department. “It felt like it was almost in honor of St. Patrick’s Day because she really channeled self-proclaimed ‘Lord of the Dance,'” said Michael Flatley, a famous Irish step dancer.

Traice Collier then returned to the stage for a duet with sophomore Caitlin Potosnak. In addition to their performance, the dancers incorporated a scarf as a prop that added to the whimsical and practiced techniques by the dancers. It was a beautiful performance because the two were so similar and well-rehearsed in their choreography that what they were depicting was very believable. They were both displaying great struggle with the scarf which can be interpreted as the struggles that women have experienced historically and culturally.

Rebecca Brewer returned to perform her solo prior to the dancers from d a n a h b e l l a. Three of the four dancers that performed from the company are students. Seniors Laura Morris and Heather Brooks accompanied junior Courtney Meade in a performance with another company member that was present at the show. Their particular costume attire, which can be described as a light summer dress, negated their gestures as their movement appeared much more harsh and demanding compared to the orthodox feel of the sunny season. It was a piece that contained intricate lighting that aided the already great choreography.

All the pieces brought a new form of art and expression to the table. The intimate location of Peters Hall Albig Studio is a great location for smaller shows because the audience is placed near the stage, thus creating a close, personal atmosphere. The women who danced and choreographed for this show proved that women’s work is worth acknowledging.

The dancers all want to touch the dance world in their own specific ways, but Dance Education major Haley Schmitz wants to teach dance to children, specifically the children of Uganda. She liked choreographing for this show and enjoyed performing her own work.

“I like performing my choreography because I know it will look the way I want. You know your own style of moving and know that when you perform it the choreography will look that way,” Schmitz said.

To see more from the RU division of dance, check out http://dance.asp.radford.edu/events.htm.

Cover and story photo by Thomas Bowman

Love

I feel love,
When you walk into the room,
And I see your face.
I feel love,
When you stare in my eyes,
And kiss me softly.
I feel love,
When you say nothing at all,
And just lay there with me.
I know love,
When I see it in your eyes,
And I know it’s true!

Cover graphic by Kasey Sutphin

“The Hurt Locker” not hurting now

Before the Academy Awards on March 7 I had never heard of “The Hurt Locker.” Now it has won the most Oscars in 2010, taking home six awards of the nine for which it was nominated. Kathryn Bigelow, the director of “The Hurt Locker, became the first female to win in the Best Director category for her feature film.

Sandra Bullock finally received the acclaim she deserved. She won Best Actress In a Leading Role for her performance in “The Blind Sideand became America’s sweetheart yet again this year with performances in “The Proposal” and “All About Steve.” She went from a crime fighter in “Miss Congenialityto do-gooder supermom in “The Blind Side.” Finally she received notice for her great ability.

We cannot acknowledge best actress without telling you about this year’s Best Actor In A Leading Role. It went to actor and musician, Jeff Bridges. Bridges played in “K-PAX” and “The Big Lebowski.” He won his Academy Award for playing Bad Blake in the film “Crazy Heart.” He also sang in the movie and was one of the artists to sing in this year’s remake of “We are the World.”

On to Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Inglorious Basterds.” In the film he plays Col. Hans Landa, a Nazi who is exceptionally good at finding Jews in hiding. The Best Supporting Actress award went to stand-up comedian and actress Mo’Nique for her portrayal of Mary in “Precious: Based On the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.” Mary is the abusive mother to pregnant teenager Precious.

Disney had two nominees in the Best Animated Feature Film category, “The Princess and the Frog” and “Up.”The Princess and the Frog” is Disney’s latest princess movie that follows Princess Tiana who kisses a frog and then turns into one. The winning film was a collaboration with Pixar. “Up” is about a lonely old man who tries to escape his problems by flying his house away but finds a child on his front stoop instead, a wilderness explorer named Russell. The two take a crazy adventure. “Up” also won for Best Music.

Avatar” was thought to be a big winner of the night, but only won three of the nine awards it was nominated for. It won Best Cinematography, Art Direction and Visual Effects, not to mention it was also the brunt of various jokes throughout the night. Director James Cameron’s name was dropped more than a cell phone, and Ben Stiller came out decorated and dressed in full “Avatar” make-up and costume to give out an award.

Adding to the humor of the night were the two hosts, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. These comedian-actors kept the comedy coming with cracks about nearly everyone in the audience. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the witty banter, even though they talked about most of them. George Clooney was the only movie-man in the house who did not seem to be digging the criticism. His face was somber on every camera shot that caught him.

The 82nd Academy Awards opened with a song and dance number performed by Neil Patrick Harris and dancers. It was similar to his performance at the closing of the Tony awards for Broadway and live theater.

The 2010 Oscars held big laughs, big names and big shocks this year.

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons

The Hangover, most epic adventure ever

The Hangover” is a great comedy that was released last year. It features a man named Doug, played by Justin Bartha; and his three friends, Stu, played by Ed Helms; Phil, played by Bradley Cooper; and Alan, played by Zach Galifianakis. Each character is unique so that they fit the story. “The Hangover “is a great comedy from start to finish, and definitely a movie you’ll want to watch more than once. It’s full of outrageous jokes and exciting adventures.

The story begins with Doug about to marry his lovely fianc