DCCC student hula hoops in Old Hollywood Glam Cirque

By Alexis Marshall

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Autumn Cornell, a studio arts major at DCCC, poses in vaudeville costume back stage at Tellus360, following her solo performance for The Circus School of Lancaster showcase. Photo by Alexis Marshall

The backstage area of Tellus360 bar is buzzing as the performers prepare. Wherever you look, people are putting on makeup or fixing their costumes.

A performer sits on the steps to the stage, strapping stilts to her legs. Another complains to her friend about leaving a prop back in her car.

Among the waiting performers is Autumn Cornell, a 25-year-old DCCC studio arts major dressed in a red leotard, black chiffon skirt and black tights; a bowler hat sits upon her head.

“Kind of going for a vaudeville look,” Cornell says, referring to a popular type of entertainment in the early 20th Century.

Cornell was one of several performers participating in the Old Hollywood Glam Cirque Variety Show at the Circus School of Lancaster and Tellus 360 Jan. 22.

Cornell stands next to her props, a peacock feather fan, a black and white pointed umbrella, and a set of four blue hula hoops. She shares that she will be in two performances this evening. One group performance, and one solo act.

“I’m really excited,” she says. “The show is about to begin!” Cornell’s opening act was joined by two performers, Pixie Flowess and Sheena, both 28-year-old Lancaster locals, who performed acrobatics featuring umbrellas set to the “Moulin Rouge” version of “Roxanne.” Cornell’s solo performance was a hula-hoop acrobatic dance, set to a remix of Disney Aladdin’s song “Never Had a Friend Like Me.”

The hulahoop performance featured tricks where she spun the hoops around her wrists, ankles, thighs and around the outside of her body. She steadily added more and more hoops as her performance continued.

“I was surprised,” said Laura Mae, a co-owner of MaeJean Vintage, an antique and vintage jewelry shop in Lancaster. “It was very entertaining.”

The Ladybirds, a dance group from York, Pa, performed three acts. Tina Watkins, 27, performed partner burlesqueacrobatics with Sheena. Anika Alegra, 28, also performed a burlesque act featuring a hula hoop.

“Look at them go,” said Dahlia Jean, a business partner to Laura Mae. “These girls are lovely.”

The Master of Ceremonies was Evan Young, a street performer with 15 years of experience in the field of circus acts.

Between each act, Young shared an old Hollywood glam fun-fact, while performing a trick. One trick involved standing on a balance board while transitioning two hula-hoops across his body in opposite directions, simultaneously.

“Fun fact: Joseph Stalin tried to have John Wayne assassinated because Wayne was openly against communism,” Young said, while balancing a skateboard on his forehead.

The final performance of the evening was a contortion and aerial hoop act, performed by Kiki Konfelli a 38-year-old former gymnast from Maine. She has performed since her childhood.

The night ended with an open floor dance party.

Guests, who were encouraged to come in era-appropriate clothing, were enticed to dance to vaudeville style music.

“We love everything vintage, so this is fantastic,” said Amanda Jean, Dahlia Jean’s sister and co-owner of MaeJean Vintage.

The Circus School of Lancaster will be hosting three more showcases over the course of the next three months. The showcases will be the fourth Tuesday of every month and will feature a different theme each time.

Contact Alexis Marshall at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Moore’s latest documentary ‘Farenheit 11/9’ goes down in flames

By Shane Soderland

 

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Michael Moore’s latest documentary “Fahrenheit 11/9” offers a scattershot portrait of American people and politics. The film illustrates American politics as a black hole of status quo and showcases the spirit of the nation’s citizens.

“Fahrenheit 11/9” presents itself like an expose on the Trump administration from the start, but leaves room to discuss how we got here, much to its own detriment.

The film details social and political issues, such as health care reform, school shootings and the broken political system, yet they feel unnecessarily tacked on to the advertised Trump narrative.

Moore’s biting social commentary and sharp wit can be seen throughout the film. His trademark blue collar sarcasm is utilized to full effect in his latest directorial effort. Moore spares nobody, holding all ends of the spectrum accountable for Trump’s presidency: political figures, voters, even Gwen Stefani is implicated for directly influencing Trump’s campaign.

Unafraid to blame himself and others for being friendly with now unsavory individuals, Moore’s display of nonpartisanship is commendable. Unfortunately, Moore takes numerous cheap digs at right-wing politics towards the second act, which goes against his take-no-prisoners mentality from the onset.

The film is ambitious — it attempts to link various political matters to Trump, which is reasonable considering how chaos tends to enshroud the Trump administration, but it sloppily and frantically draws its connections to POTUS.

Moore trails off topic several times, including an unnecessary segment implicating Trump of having an incestuous relationship with his daughter. His usually crisp editing doesn’t work towards transitioning from one idea to the next; instead, it’s used for cheap visual and auditory gags, such as a segment showing Trump’s words overlaid at a Hitler rally.

The film hits its stride when Moore settles down in Flint, Michigan to focus on the community’s water crisis. Moore targets Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for his hand in the matter — going as far to make a citizen’s arrest.

It’s arguable that Moore wanted to make a film about Snyder, given his passion for the sequences involving him, and this focus makes Trump feel like an afterthought.

Moore periodically makes assumptions regarding intent without sources to support hisassertions, which speaks against his impartiality and professionalism.

For instance, Moore affirms that Snyder’s hand in Flint’s water crisis was raciallymotivated, but he offers no evidence to that claim or several others.

I could forgive many issues with this film, but its fatal flaw is a lackluster ending that fails to go out with a bang.

It feels like Moore capitalizes on a moment in history rather than creating one of his own in the film’s climax. Moore’s ending drags two minutes too long and robs the audience of a fitting conclusion, which directly relates to his theme of activism.

Excluding me, five individuals departed the theatre promptly following the movie’s ending. A spectator voiced his opinion exiting the theatre. “Scattered!” the viewer said. “I looked up and was like ‘What?’”

These ideas could have worked, but Moore’s research and reliance on hearsay works against the film. I can’t recommend this film to general audience goers, but there is some value to its aspiration. Die-hard fans of Moore’s work will appreciate this entry nonetheless, despite it being flawed.

Contact Shane Soderland at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Pippin

With an infectiously unforgettable score from four-time Grammy winner, three-time Oscar winner and musical theatre giant, Stephen Schwartz, Pippin is the story one young man’s journey to be extraordinary. This updated circus-inspired version of Pippin continue to captivate and appeal to audiences across the age spectrum. Photos by Andrew Henry

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The band of Pippin before the show.
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Raheem Harris plays a newscaster informing Pippin of the terrible things his father has done.
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The cast of Pippin’s final pose after performing the song “Just No Time at All.”
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Fastrada (Sara Abo-Harb) plots against her son and husband. 
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Pippin (Jason Boyer) speaks to a beheaded soldier (Jeff Bynu) after his first battle. 
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Catherine (Casey Innes) and her son Theo celebrate Pippin’s (Jason Boyer) one year anniversary with them.
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The actors in the royal court of Charlamagne. 
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Matt Morris as King Charlamagne.
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Boyer as Pippin decides to talk to his father.
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Pippin (Jason Boyer) and the leading player (Jasmine Bryant) read the bad news about his father.
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One of the submitted Pippin posters designed by Madison Argo, a graphic design major at DCCC.

Local arts center hosts advanced screening of NBC’s ‘Rise’

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NBC meteorologist Brittney Shipp sits with executive producer Jason Katims and star Damon J. Gillespie during the Q-and-A for the advanced screening of NBC10’s “Rise.” Photo by Dean Galiffa

NBC10 and the Educational Theatre Foundation held an advanced screening of the pilot for the new television drama “Rise” at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center on March 11.

Tickets for the event, hosted by NBC10 meteorologist Brittney Shipp, were free to reserve on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“‘Rise’ reflects a modern American high school with students of diverse backgrounds and life experiences,” said Shipp before the screening. “The story is as much about a small town in Pennsylvania as it is about musical theater. ‘Rise’ is about family, friendship, relationships, and growing up.”

The show is based on a true story, featuring the lives of teachers and students at Harry S. Truman High School in Levittown, Pa. Current students and staff were invited to the event.

“This show is about finding inspiration in unexpected places when dedicated teacher Lou Mazzuchelli sheds his self-doubt and takes over the school’s lackluster theater department,” Shipp said before the screening began. “He galvanizes not only the faculty but also students in the entire working-class town.”

Georjenna Gatto, an alumnus of Truman, explained that “Rise” is based on “Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater,” a book by Michael Sokolove, New York Times Magazine writer and Truman alumnus.

Published in 2013, “Drama High” tells the true story of the students and teachers at Truman.

At the time, the students were rehearsing for the first high school-edited production of “Spring Awakening,” under the direction of Lou Volpe. In Gatto’s words, Volpe revolutionized the theater program at Truman.

“I was playing Wendla,” said Gatto, referring to her lead role in the production. “Mike Sokolove came back and followed us around for months, interviewing us and watching us rehearse.”

Students and staff from Mastery Charter School at Shoemaker Campus in Philadelphia, Pa. were also invited to the screening.

“These two schools were one of 50 schools chosen by NBC and the Educational Theatre Foundation that’s part of R.I.S.E. America,” Shipp said. “They are going to receive a $10 thousand grant that will enable them to enhance their theater program.”

According to the Educational Theatre Foundation website, 50 high schools were chosen out of 1,000 applicants to receive NBC’s “R.I.S.E. America” grants.

The acronym “R.I.S.E.” stands for “Recognizing and Inspiring Student Expression.” The grants enable theater programs to cover the cost of critical needs, such as production expenses and technical equipment.

Jared Moskowitz and Natalie Busillo, teachers at Shoemaker, said they applied for the grant and submitted a video.

“I took [the video] on my iPhone,” Busillo said. “It was our school choir singing ‘21 Guns’ [by Green Day], and I interviewed some students. I literally looked up YouTube videos on how to edit and taught myself how to use iMovie.”

Moskowitz said they had tried performing productions at Shoemaker in the past, but due to unfortunate circumstances, were unable to.

“We were going to do a production of ‘A Raisin In The Sun,’ and we completely sold out,” he said. “Two weeks before opening night, a pipe burst in the school, and the entire theater flooded. All of the equipment was ruined and the stage buckled in. The floodgates literally opened.”

Busillo said that Shoemaker has one of the stronger theater programs out of all campuses due to their more developed space for musicals. The grant money will go toward updating theater equipment.

After the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center screening, Shipp held a Q-and-A with executive producer Jason Katims and “Rise” star Damon J. Gillespie.

Shipp asked Katims how he came up with the idea for the show and what compelled him to write it.

“I became aware of [“Drama High”] from Jeffrey Seller and Bob Greenblatt,” said Katims, referring to the NBC producers. “Even before opening the book, I knew it was a story I wanted to tell. Lou dedicated his life to being an educator, inspiring so many students’ lives and changing the community.”

Katims added that trying to capture the spirit and essence that many high school theater programs have is exciting for him.

He also paid tribute to teachers at Truman, including Volpe.

“I’ve spent the last year in Lou’s world,” Katims said. “Writing about this, I’m inspired by all of the teachers who do the same thing.”

Katims said that when Volpe read the script, he focused on the writing rather than the material of the show.

“It was incredible,” Katims said. “He saw me as a writer, and I realized that I was experiencing what it was like to be one of Lou’s students in that theater program for 44 years.”

NBC aired the pilot on March 13 and new episodes will continue to air every Tuesday.

Contact Dean Galiffa at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

‘Clybourne Park’ echoes the past of its predecessor

By Emily Steinhardt

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Steve (Matt Morris) escourts deaf wife Betsy (Casey Innes) out after an argument with Russ (Daniel Thach). Photo by Emily Steinhardt

Under the direction of Stephen Smith, nine actors successfully brought to life the story of Clybourne Park, the fall drama that ran from Nov. 9-11 and 16-18.

According to DCCC’s website, “Clybourne Park is a razor-sharp satire about the politics of race, written partly as a prequel/sequel to one of the greatest plays ever written in this country, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.” The play takes place in the same house as A Raisin in the Sun in the same suburb of Chicago.

The first act is set in 1959 as a white family is selling their house to an African-American family. Act two jumps to 2009 as the descendants of the Younger family from A Raisin in the Sun are selling the home to a young white couple as the neighborhood experiences gentrification.

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Francine (Breonna Adams) and husband Albert (Terence Stroman) try to leave as an argument breaks out between family and friends. Photo by Emily Steinhardt

The show comes full circle at the end as it flashes back to 1959 and the audience meets Kenneth (Ben Vuocolo), a character that is mentioned throughout the show but never seen. It was the final moment of the show, and it tugged my heart out as I finally understood many subtle things that were discussed in the play.

In both acts, themes of racism, mental illness, gender, disability, and class are examined at large. The actors portrayed these very relevant topics in a believable manner that mirrored how many people still talk about them today.

The show was chalk full of standout moments from each of the actors. Performers played two different characters from the separate acts that echoed each other. They were all very successful in highlighting those similarities, especially Daniel Thach, Matt Morris, Terence Stroman, and Casey Innes.

Set designer Mimi Smith truly transformed the space. Stage crew and actors helped “change” the set during intermission to show the passing of time in the house by taking off a changeable wallpaper among other things.

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Bev (Samantha Angelina) tries to ask Betsy (Casey Innes) if she wants iced tea. Photo by Emily Steinhardt

Costumes were designed by Samantha Angelina, who was also one of the actors in the show. She captured the feeling of both eras, making it easy for the audience to believe they were back in the 1950’s or 2009.

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Lindsey (Casey Innes) talks with Kevin (Terence Stroman) about travelling around the world. Photo by Emily Steinhardt

Stephen Smith directed yet another fantastic play that “examined ways we still need to reckon with our national history which sadly keeps dividing us” as he said in his director’s note.

Bravo to the cast and everyone involved in such an excellent production.

Contact Emily Steinhardt at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu