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Junior and Senior Election Interviews

by Domenic Hoxholi, Class of 2022

With school coming up in just under a month, we must not forget about our Student Council elections. This is a time where we make our voices heard and elect officers who can create positive changes for our Matignon community. Even though this article is aimed at Juniors and Seniors, everyone is welcome to read about our next upperclassmen leaders. Sophomores, stay tuned for your candidates’ interviews!

The Junior Presidential race, the Senior Secretarial race, and the Senior Presidential race are the only three contested races. Over this summer, I reached out to every candidate who is running in these races about an opportunity to answer some questions about their campaign. Although each candidate was given the opportunity to be featured in this article, not all of them participated.

Starting off with the Junior Presidential race, we have 5 candidates running: incumbent President Dylan Griffith, who is running for re-election, incumbent Intermediary William Carroll, Representative Shania Rimpel, Representative Sydney Rosa, and Mr. Steven Lee. Out of these five candidates, President Griffith, Intermediary Carroll and Representative Rimpel took the opportunity to answer questions. Below is the interview with President Griffith: 

Matignon Mirror: Mr. President, you have four challengers vying for your seat as President of the Class of 2021. Why do you think you deserve another term? 

Dylan Griffith: As we enter another school year at Matignon, it is imperative that our elected officers are able to organize, rally, and energize our fellow classmates. In order to do so, it takes a true leader who is able to connect with their classmates. In my view, a leader is one who understands the problems and concerns that fellow classmates voice and is able to find the appropriate solutions in a timely manner. Being this leader, I will continue to be one of diligence and hard work that gets the job done. I will fight to earn another term from my classmates for us and for our school so that we may continue the tradition of “Expect Excellence”. I believe that I am the leader to help to unite our school in forming a real sense of pride which has been lacking therefrom. It takes experience, understanding, and dedication to lead and that is what I promise to do. 

MM: In order to execute his/her vision for their class and Matignon High School, the Junior President must work with their fellow Council Members. What is your vision for Matignon High School and if elected, how will you execute it?  

DG: Matignon is a high school of great tradition. This tradition to me is one to build on and to bring continuity of its fruition. As a student council, we are tasked with ensuring that the events we organize are not only enjoyable but also reflective of the bar of excellence that we as Warriors are held to. Beginning with Homecoming in the fall, we will be rededicated in our commitment to each other and to our school. Holding tag days to bring awareness to the countless issues, such as breast cancer, that affect so many people, allows us to extend a helping hand to those who need it most. During Catholic Schools Week, I plan to introduce the first-ever Throwback Thursday Disco Night where we can go for a skate and finish off our celebrations strong. In order to do all of this, we will need to organize collectively as a council. With our leadership, I know we can get the job done. 

MM: One of the driving questions in the 2020 American Presidential election is, “How are you going to pay for that?” What fundraisers do you have planned and how will these funds be used? 

DG: Preparation for events is critical, as is paying for them. If I am elected, we will balance our budget so that all of the events we organize are not outweighed by the financial burdens. What I mean by this is that as a council, we will need to fundraise beforehand so that events are not as costly. Because we are students and are given some independence from our parents, we understand that not everyone wants to put out $20 for every event, or they want to, but simply can’t. We must take this into consideration and begin by holding bake sales, working with the administration for tag days, and for events like Homecoming, selling themed t-shirts. Through these means, we will fundraise enough money so that prices will be feasible, the focus of our events shifts away from the price tag, and we as a student body will also benefit. Thank you very much for the questions and remember to vote #Griff4Prez!   

Now, here is the interview with Intermediary Carroll: 

MM: Not only are you challenging President Dylan Griffith for his seat as President, you also have three other opponents, why do you deserve to be elected?   

William Carroll: I have run for president since my freshman year and have served on the council for the past two years as our Class Intermediary. Interacting with my fellow council members and students has given me experience that would aid me in serving as a friendly and focused president. Out of my opponents, with the exception of President Griffith, I am the only one who has chosen to serve both years on the council despite my initial defeats in the presidential elections, going on to take the role of Intermediary both times. This proves that it is not in my character to give up, and if elected president, my loyalty will only grow. I am absolutely dedicated to my class, having done and will do anything in my power to improve the quality of our school life. Freshman year, I participated in MIT’s Leadership Training Institute, a competitive program designed to improve the skills of young leaders. For my service project, a part of the program, I chose to research and work on ways to make school lunches more affordable. The mentors advised me that this was a difficult project that few students in the program have succeeded in before. However, I do not believe in giving in to what’s considered impossible if I have the chance to help others.  

MM: In order to execute his/her vision for their class and Matignon High School, the Junior President must work their fellow Council Members. What is your vision for Matignon High School and if elected, how will you execute it?   

WCBecause my sister was a part of the Class of 2017, Matignon High School has been a part of my life for the better part of six years. I have witnessed the progression of our school, and I have heard complaints and praises from students. Matignon’s strength has always come from the students’ diverse interests and qualities. In order to create an environment appropriate for that many students requires feedback. I want to work more closely with my peers to ensure they get what they want in our school. Junior year is very important and I want to stress teamwork among our Class of 2021 council. Having worked with them for the past few years, I know what skills they have and what we can accomplish by dividing up tasks between us. My goal is to use my leadership training from MIT Leadership Training Institute to improve Pep Rallies, school spirit, dances, long blocks, the lunch, and other important aspects of school life.

MM: One of the driving questions in the 2020 American presidential election is, “How are you going to pay for that?” What fundraisers do you have planned and how will these funds be used? 

WC: Well, Matignon certainly does not have the same budget or issues as the United States! However, we still need money to run. Of course, our seasonal bake sales are a class favorite and I would want to continue that. One fun new idea I would want to bring to Matignon is a penny drive war. There has been talk in student council to hold a penny drive and, as someone who had it at their school for many years, I would be able to organize it. Every Christmas, we sell candy cane grams. I think we can spread this to Halloween, letting students send their friends “Trick or Treats” in the form of their favorite (or least favorite for the trick part) Halloween candy.  In the past, people have wanted to have Vine Day as a part of Spirit Week, but this has been difficult to do because of the seasonal dress code and Mass. I believe we can have a Vine day dress down earlier or later in the year so those pesky shorts would be an option. I have so many ideas that could spice up Matignon and earn us extra money for dances, and being elected president would mean helping to see these ideas come to light.  

Finally, the interview with Representative Rimpel: 

MM:  Not only are you challenging President Dylan Griffith for his seat as President, you also have three other opponents, why do you deserve to be elected?   

Shania Rimpel: I deserve to be president because I have been in positions of leadership in the past. I was the president for all my years in middle school. During my freshman year, I was part of the Leadership Training Institute for MIT, where I decided to tackle the issue of racism. Even as a sophomore, I was chosen as Vice President of SOCA. I am persistent, and love to see all of my projects finish. I created my “EQUALITY” shirts as a way to unite students of all races. I sold them in school and donated all of the proceeds to SOCA.  

MM: In order to execute his/her vision for their class and Matignon High School, the Junior President must work their fellow Council Members. What is your vision for Matignon High School and if elected, how will you execute it?   

SR: My vision for Matignon High School is to create a more united front. People of color make up a minority at our school and I feel that we could make more of an effort to acknowledge this during certain months. For instance, the month of October is Hispanic History Month. That can be taken as an opportunity to learn more about our peers and their history. Black History Month is more well known, but we can use it to further our education and learn about historical figures that we may not learn about in our history books. I believe by learning about each other’s backgrounds, we can better understand each other and become more united. 

MM: One of the driving questions in the 2020 American presidential election is, “How are you going to pay for that?” What fundraisers do you have planned and how will these funds be used? 

SR: From my experience, bake sales seem to do the best in terms of fundraising. Raffles also seem like a good way to fundraise, as people may be more inclined to buy a raffle if the prize is appealing. I would use the money to better our school dances, like Homecoming, and to make our Pep Rallies more entertaining. The money is really to benefit the entire student body and making the high school experience a memorable one.

Next on the agenda is the Senior Secretarial election. This election has two candidates, incumbent Class of 2020 Secretary Christina Fallon, running for re-election, and Representative Mia Wieczorek. Both candidates took the opportunity to answer questions. We will start with the challenger, Representative Wieczorek: 

MM: Christina Fallon is the incumbent Class of 2020 Secretary, what makes you a better alternative?  

Mia Wieczorek: I am a part of several clubs at Matignon and have many leadership roles in our school, such as Captain of the Girls Varsity Soccer Team and a member of the National Honors Society. Outside of school, I volunteer as an ice-skating instructor for young children. I also have experience on Student Council as a Representative last year.    

MM: The Secretary of the Senior Class is delegated the responsibility of taking notes at meetings and drafting project proposals to send to the Administration, but they are also representatives of their classes ideas. What is the first project you will propose to the council if elected? 

MW: If I am our Senior Class Secretary, I will collaborate with the rest of the Student Council to make improvements. I take others ideas or suggestions into full consideration, even from students who are not in Student Council. I have the energy to brighten our school, which it needs. I am also creative.  

Now, the interview with Secretary Fallon: 

MM: Madam Secretary, you are running for re-election, why do you feel you deserve another term?  

Christina Fallon:  Experience.  I have been honored to fulfill the role of secretary for the past two years, and I am prepared to carry my classmates into our final year.  Those two years have given me a full understanding of how Student Council should be run, as well as what not to do. I have seen many of our proposals succeed in the Matignon community, but I have also seen many fails.  These failures have taught me how to go about propositions and who to bring them to in order for our class to run productively. With a new secretary, our class would be in a setback that would see far more failures. But, with me as secretary, I can assure you that my experience will make our final year together successful and memorable.   

MM: The Secretary of the Senior Class is delegated the responsibility of taking notes at meetings and draft project proposals to send to the Administration, but they are also representatives of their classes ideas. What is the first project you will propose to the council if elected?  

CF: Since my first term, I have been envisioning many ideas for our class that would make Matignon a more exciting place. Mentioned years ago, I plan on arranging a movie night for all Matignon students to enjoy, that will serve as a break from the stresses of school and allow students to connect outside of class. With delicious snacks and refreshments, students will be able to remember a Matignon that not only accomplished activities during school, but also joined students together outside of the restrictions of class. Another issue I plan on addressing is the water fountain crisis. Students have to bring their own water from home, causing an unnecessary accumulation of plastic water bottles. Students have to rely on the nurse for clean drinking water, which is completely unacceptable. I plan on issuing new water fountains that filtrate water so that everyone can access clean drinking water. As secretary, I will enter my third term steadfast with determination in order to make these ideas, as well as many others, turn into realities.  

Now for the race we all are looking at, the Senior Presidential Election. As custom, the Senior Class President is the leader of the Student Council as well as the de facto Student Body President. With incumbent Presidents Patrick Stanton and Ahn Nguyen both deciding not to run for re-election, they have let a field of four candidates looking to fill the open seat: incumbent Class of 2020 Vice President Frentzhermann Solidaire, incumbent Intermediary, Jacqueline Lemieux, Representative Natialie Bett, and Mr. Xichang He. Out of these candidates, Vice President Solidaire, Intermediary Lemieux, and Representative Bett responded to the questions. Below is the interview with Vice President Solidaire: 

MM: The role of the Senior President is the most important position in the Matignon Student council. Why do you believe you are the best candidate for the position? 

Frentz Solidaire: Over the years I have noticed the students and staff emit this feeling apathy, sort of like a “Miserable Matignon.” It is been a curtain drawn on Matignon for quite some time. My future staff and I know we can help change this attitude. By becoming Senior President, I aim to introduce a real sense of school spirit and overall pride in being a Warrior. 

MM: The Matignon Student Council meetings are where the ideas of our fellow Warriors are discussed and implemented. If elected, what will be the first project you propose before the council and how do you plan on executing your vision?  

FS: The first project to be proposed before Student Council will be Homecoming. Getting a headstart on this social event will make it all the more worthwhile. This will be supported by fundraisers and individual items that Student Council sells. An event such as this will be just one out of many others where people will experience a great time.  

MM: Data from the “Outside the Classroom” Public Forum survey indicated that Pep Rallies were one of the least favorite assemblies of the 2018-2019 school year. How will you work to enhance the experience of Pep Rallies and other Student Council events? 

FS: While it is disappointing to know that the pep rallies were subpar, the members of Student Council aim to fix that. We will be surveying the students on what they liked, didn’t like, and or would like to see in them. From there we can make the changes needed. Our hope is that the pep rallies, among other Student Council events, will be lively and increase school spirit. 

MM: One of the driving questions in the 2020 American presidential election is, “How are you going to pay for that?” What fundraisers do you have planned and how will these funds be used to execute your vision for Matignon? 

FS:: Fundraisers are a big, if not the main, part in running multiple events throughout the year. Some of our most successful fundraisers will be bake sales. I also hope to get tournaments of some kind going where it involves teams facing off each other for a grand prize. From these funds we hope to power a vision of Matignon where students are actually excited for future events and in attending school in general.  

Here is the interview with Intermediary Lemieux: 

MM: The role of the Senior President is the most important position in the Matignon Student council. Why do you believe you are the best candidate for the position? 

Jacqueline Lemieux: I have participated in Student Council since my freshman year as a Representative for the class of 2020 during our freshman and sophomore years and our class Intermediary during our Junior year. In that time, I have maintained a high level of commitment to our class as well as to our school. I am consistently one of the few people to attend and contribute to meetings, and have done my best to positively impact our community with every decision I have made and idea I have presented. I never shy away from a challenge and frequently find myself taking on extra responsibilities and picking up slack in order to help out with anything I can. If elected, I promise that I will bring this same energy to every Student Council meeting and to every Matignon event. I believe that every person has a valuable opinion, and that those opinions should be heard and paid attention to. If elected, I will value the opinions of the student body and the Student Council as a whole, not just the idea that I might like best or that affects my best interests.  

MM: The Matignon Student Council meetings are where the ideas of our fellow Warriors are discussed and implemented. If elected, what will be the first project you propose before the council and how do you plan on executing your vision? 

JL: My first goal is not an external project, but rather an internal improvement. Too often in the past, people have been overlooked or treated unfairly within Student Council. If elected, I want to consider everyone’s opinions and ideas. I will make a conscious effort to open things up to a vote more often than making executive decisions or going with the idea I personally like the best. In my opinion, a stronger and more united Student Council will make better, more informed, and more inclusive decisions to benefit the entire student body. In addition, I would like to adopt an open-door policy for meetings: ANY Matignon student who would like to attend a meeting and voice their ideas will be welcome to attend any and all meetings, even if they are not a part of Student Council. 

MM: Data from the “Outside the Classroom” Public Forum survey indicated that Pep Rallies were one of the least favorite assemblies of the 2018-2019 school year. How will you work to enhance the experience of Pep Rallies and other Student Council events? 

JL: At the risk of sounding redundant, student opinion is the most important factor. I think that if we increase polls and student submissions, events will be far more successful. I would also like to change up the games we play at Pep Rallies; although many of the games we play are fun, students get tired of playing the same few games over and over again. I will be looking for new ideas and working to improve the lineup, rather than just repeating the same games just because they’ve been somewhat successful in the past.  

MM: One of the driving questions in the 2020 American presidential election is, “How are you going to pay for that?” What fundraisers do you have planned and how will these funds be used to execute your vision for Matignon?  

JL:  Of course, the Homecoming dance will be our major fundraiser as always. In the beginning of the year, that will be my main focus as far as theme, decorations, advertising, etc. For the rest of the year, I definitely want to plan some other fundraising events — I’ve heard some good ideas, such as a trivia night, and am certainly open to hearing some more! All funds will be put back into other events, such as Pep Rallies and the Homecoming dance, in order to improve these events and make them the best that they can be. 

Now for Representative Bett’s interview: 

MM: The role of the Senior President is the most important position in the Matignon Student council. Why do you believe you are the best candidate for the position?  

Natalie Bett: I feel that I am the best candidate for the position because I am responsible and organized. I am extremely dedicated to everything I do, and recognize the importance of this position. I’m very involved in the Matignon community, and therefore care about the needs of every student, no matter his or her grade or interests.

MM: The Matignon Student Council meetings are where the ideas of our fellow Warriors are discussed and implemented. If elected, what will be the first project you propose before the council and how do you plan on executing your vision? 

NB: My first steps as President would be to start planning the Homecoming dance, cancer assembly, and fall pep rally. These are some of the first events at Matignon planned by Student Council, and the sooner they are planned, the more potential they have to be great. I would also communicate with the other Student Council members to see what ideas they have for the year, and begin working on those as well.  

MM: Data from the “Outside the Classroom” Public Forum survey indicated that Pep Rallies were one of the least favorite assemblies of the 2018-2019 school year. How will you work to enhance the experience of Pep Rallies and other Student Council events? 

NB: I feel that pep rallies were the least favorite activity because there is a large part of the student body that isn’t involved in sports. I feel that if pep rallies were more geared towards everyone, they would be more fun for students that are shy, don’t play sports, don’t like large crowds, etc. I also think pep rallies should have more ‘advertising’ to get everyone excited during the week, which could lead to a higher energy level at the actual event.  

MM: One of the driving questions in the 2020 American presidential election is, “How are you going to pay for that?” What fundraisers do you have planned and how will these funds be used to execute your vision for Matignon?  

NB: This year, I would love to do more fun and interesting fundraising ideas than just bake sales. At the end of last year, the student council was discussing having a movie night at the beginning of the year as a “welcome back” event for both returning students and new freshmen. I feel that ticket sales from this event (or something similar to this) could be a way to start raising money for the upcoming fall events. 

In addition to the speeches you will hear early next year, we at the Matignon Mirror hope that these interviews will help you cast your ballot. Now, most people say that Student Council is a popularity contest, where the same people run time and time again and win, but I would like to challenge that notion. As the Class of 2022 Vice President and candidate for President of my class, I have seen first hand how much each and every member cares about bettering our school, from going to summer meetings to plan Homecoming, showing up before and after school to execute fun events like Pep Rallies, and organizing fundraisers to pay for our ambition visions. No matter what position you hold or how long we have been on the Council, we care about one thing: YOU! So cast your ballot and make your voice heard, because we at the Matignon Mirror and Student Council know that it matters. Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing all in September! 

In order to provide an unbiased platform, all candidates were informed about this opportunity with an ample amount of time to respond to their questions and The candidates were told that their opponents would also have this opportunity. Also, an advance copy of this article was sent to all featured candidates, four days before publishing. 

Interviews have been edited for grammar and clarity.

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Broadway’s Lauren Patten Talks Jagged Little Pill, LGBTQ+ Representation on Broadway, and More

by Jacqueline Lemieux, class of 2020

Jagged Little Pill, a jukebox musical inspired by the album of the same title by Alanis Morissette, ran from 5 May 2018 until 15 July 2018 at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, with Fun Home star Lauren Patten playing Jo. Jagged Little Pill addresses key issues in today’s world, including sexual assault, gender identity (Jo identifies as genderqueer), and opiate addiction. The show, a smash hit with audiences in Cambridge, is set to transfer to Broadway this fall.

Lauren Patten is a New York City based actress who has pursued theatre from a young age. She was drawn to theatre from a young age, and is now well known in the theatre community. Most recently, she was in the Off-Broadway play Days of Rage alongside Mike Faist, best known for Dear Evan Hansen. She cites Fun Home as her favorite show that she has worked on to date, particularly because of the effects it has had on audiences.

I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Patten in an online interview this month and was able to ask her questions regarding the Broadway transfer as well as other key topics.

Lauren Patten as Jo in Jagged Little Pill. Photo Courtesy of Evgenia Eliseeva

She discussed the pressure that comes along with being a part of a jukebox musical, saying that singing one of Alanis Morissette’s most famous songs — “You Oughta Know” — was incredibly intense, especially singing it in front of an audience full of Alanis fans for the first time. After the initial nerves, however, she says that it has gotten easier, especially as people begin to get more excited about the upcoming Broadway transfer.

She cites “honesty” as the most important message to pull from the show, from honesty about yourself to honesty towards each other, saying that a lot of the show addresses the pain that results from attempting to hide oneself in order to present as more “acceptable” to the world — a message which is likely especially pertinent in relation to Jo, a genderqueer character in a society which enforces a binary view of gender.

As with any show, Jagged Little Pill has experienced a great number of changes from its out-of-town run. I asked Lauren about how that has affected her relationship with the show as a whole and especially with Jo. She says that the changes have allowed the team working on the show to really take a step back and reflect on the show, and that there will definitely be more exciting changes once rehearsals start again in September.

The whole show in Cambridge was basically just a play in development — it’s an out of town tryout, it’s basically just one possible version of it, so it’s kind of interesting for it to still be in flux, but we’re not in the room yet for Broadway, so there will be more exciting changes I think, once we’re back in rehearsal in September.

Lauren Patten

Lauren says that Jagged Little Pill has changed her on an individual level, allowing her to do a lot of self-exploration, as well as exploration within the larger LGBTQ community, saying that playing a queer character in such a pro-LGBTQ+ show has allowed her to explore her own identity (she identifies as queer and bisexual). She says that Jagged Little Pill has also allowed her to advocate for social issues, from the ones explored in the show to those important to her personally, including gun control and climate change, and encourages young people to use social media as a tool for discussion around issues, but not to use it as a replacement for in-person discussions. She encourages organization of clubs and protests within schools and doing what is possible for people too young to vote, from encouraging those who are old enough to vote to assisting on political campaigns.

She discussed the importance of queer representation in the media, saying that representation has been growing in recent years, although it still has a long way to go.

I’m excited that I get the chance to share my story as a queer person, and particularly for me as a bisexual woman with a man right now, getting to share that experience — I think that’s not really an experience that’s valued or talked about that much — I’ve been really grateful for that opportunity … I’ve been enjoying trying to talk about the fact that I got to discover my identity through my work … I want to have more conversations about that because identity and your understanding of it is very fluid.

Lauren Patten

As a queer person, she worried about being typecast in her acting career after coming out, but believes that being her true self and being able to express that is more important. She also hopes to be an example or a voice for younger queer people, and sees that as more important than the possibility of being pigeonholed into a certain casting type.

Lauren Patten as Jo and the company of American Repertory Theater’s Jagged Little Pill.
Photo Courtesy of Evgenia Eliseeva.

She also talked about characterization, particularly when playing characters she doesn’t particularly relate to. Jo, she says, is very different from her, but also very similar, which she has learned through playing them over time. In general, she says she tends to draw directly from the text, saying that most of the clues necessary to learn about a character can be found within the text. She says she tends to use rehearsal as a sort of “playground” to experiment with different choices a character might make in a certain situation.

She says that the most challenging aspect of being an actress is self-care, from mental health to physical health. She stresses the importance of an emotional balance between life and a show; as an actress, she can’t completely abandon her life beyond the show and always makes sure to make time for friends and family, as well as relaxation and travelling.

She advises young performers who may be considering going into theatre in their future careers to do what they love, even if it seems daunting to pursue an acting career or a job in the arts. She also emphasizes the importance of individuality in the audition room, saying that it is important not to read character descriptions too closely, and keep in mind that you can bring more to a character than is textually stated while still playing the character as-written.

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“Men in Black: International” Reviews: Exciting Comeback or Lackluster Reboot?

Last Tuesday, two of our journalists had the amazing opportunity to attend a press screening of Men in Black: International. The movie stars Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth, and opened officially on Friday, 14 June 2019 to mixed reviews from leading critics. Here’s what our reviewers had to say:

“The chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson was one of the better things that the film had to offer. It is too bad that a lackluster plot was carried by such underdeveloped characters.” – Abigail Stiltner

The Men in Black revival movie – Men in Black: International – opens in theaters this Friday and it is a whole lot of action. Regardless of whether you are a die hard MIB fan who has watched every movie or you have no prior knowledge on the franchise, you will be able to follow the plot very easily.

The film opens with a few flashbacks that provide a backstory for critical plot points.

In the first flashback, we meet Agent H, played by Chris Hemsworth, and High T, played by Liam Neeson. Agent H is very full of himself and sometimes the character is easy to hate. High T seemingly has everything together, but has a dark edge from the moment he first graces the screen.

In our second flashback, Tessa Thompson’s character, Molly, is introduced. The flashback shows her as a child about twenty years before the events of the movie. Molly is shown to be highly intelligent, curious, and very kind. The character represents the feel-good time that the American cinema likes all too much. Her curiosity and intelligence serve her well as she is able to convince the MIB to take her on. This creative exposition to the plot starts the audience off entertained.

I really did enjoy the start of the film, but after that it slowly went downhill. It had a fast start and then it was slow for a time, although it did pick up the pace later on. The different story telling speeds definitely were bothersome to me as different areas of the plot were more drawn out than others. It led to a confusing line between where seriousness meets comedy.

The chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson was one of the better things that the film had to offer. It is too bad that a lackluster plot was carried by such underdeveloped characters. They managed to have their comedic lines play rather well with each other. I do wish that the actual characters were discussed more instead of what button Agent H should press. Coming off the Avengers franchise, Hemsworth has definitely leveled up to a larger star status in this film. If it wasn’t for his Hollywood looks, his acting ability would fall even more flat. I couldn’t tell if this was actually the Steven Spielberg film I was watching or a poorly executed SNL skit.

I also found it quite strange that Emma Thompson was billed as one of the films stars, yet she appeared in two maybe three scenes. Her performance may have been the most refreshing part of this rather lackluster movie. As I mentioned earlier, the plot line is easy to follow along to. It doesn’t involve a whole lot of thought. The “Human vs. Alien” element has been done time and time again but MIB tried its best to make it a new experience.

At the end of the film, the writers all of a sudden tried to tie in a romance plot line. It went nowhere and it was frankly an afterthought. It felt rushed or maybe just something that the writers thought of last minute. It was poorly delivered, to say the least. If they chose to embrace this element further, I wish they had done so earlier in the film, not in the last five minutes.

However, the film did choose to take a modern approach to thinking and added a feminist perspective. The movie was led by a woman, Molly, and even had a few bits where the old fashioned name “Men” in Black was questioned. Behind the aliens and black suits, the film tries it’s hardest to deliver a story about a woman making her mark on a men’s world.

The film provides a new look into the MIB franchise for younger viewers. The movie is a summer flick, it will forever reside on syndicated television reruns. It kept me entertained for an hour and a half. It wasn’t the best film I’ve ever seen, but it was most definitely entertaining.
– Abigail Stiltner, Class of 2022

Image courtesy of IMBD

“The bond between [Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson] extends beyond the screen, with some of the endearing comments sounding like they were genuine and not read off of a script.” – Domenic Hoxholli

The stars of Thor: Ragnarok reunite to bring an action-packed modern adaptation of a 90s cult classic. Their chemistry really shined through on stage on multiple occasions and the cinematology was flawless, but that was not enough to give this movie a great rating. The plot was a copy-paste of your regular old good guy vs. bad guy movie and the humor was below my expectations. All in all, I would give this movie a solid 6/10.
Director Gary Grey saw the potential of having Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson as co-stars and it positively impacted the movie. The bond between the two actors extends beyond the screen, with some of the endearing comments sounding like they were genuine and not read off of a script. This is also a testament to the stars ability to work with the script. Also, the CGI was absolutely stunning.
Even though the humor was well delivered, it was lackluster at best. Most of the jokes and punchlines came from the loyal sidekick gnome, who also tended to be the butt of almost every single joke. It would have been nice to see the humor spread around.
Overall, if you were a 90s child or Men in Black fan looking for a bit of nostalgia, this might not be the remake for you. Other than that, the movie was an interesting mix of humor and actor chemistry.
– Domenic Hoxholli, Class of 2022

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“The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” is a Dam Hit!

by Jacqueline Lemieux, Class of 2020

Fans of Percy Jackson and the Olympians know to be somewhat wary of adaptations of the source material. After the 2010 and 2013 movie versions of The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters — both of which are considered quite disappointing both to fans and to Rick Riordan, who wrote the original series — it can be difficult to trust any Percy Jackson-based material which is not written by Riordan himself. However, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical went above and beyond expectations; it is perhaps the most true-to-book adaptation I have ever seen, with a Drama Desk nominated book by the incomparable Joe Tracz (Be More Chill) and upbeat, hilarious music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki (Smart Girls).

Three of The Lightning Thief‘s stars are reprising their roles from the show’s Off-Broadway run: Chris McCarrell as Percy Jackson, Kristin Stokes as Annabeth Chase, and James Hayden Rodriguez as Luke and others. The show also features Izzy Figueroa as Grover and Mr. D — also known as Dionysus, god of wine and director of Camp Half Blood, Ryan Knowles as the hilarious Chiron and others, Jalynn Steele as Sally Jackson and others, and T. Shyvonne Stewart as Clarisse and others.

Chris McCarrell
Chris McCarrell as Percy Jackson

Chris McCarrell perfectly captures the essence of Percy Jackson. He absolutely embodies Percy’s awkwardness, goofiness, and sarcasm — for two and a half hours, I was entirely willing to believe that he was a twelve-year-old thrust into the world of the Greek gods after killing his substitute teacher. As a lover of the Percy Jackson series and a performer myself, I was in awe of his talent — it was truly the Percy Jackson I had grown up with, the character I know and love, standing onstage killing monsters or delivering witty one-liners or bringing the house down with his rendition of Good Kid.

The company of The Lightning Thief
Kristin Stokes as Annabeth Chase

Throughout the years, one thing has remained consistent no matter how many times I read and reread the Percy Jackson books: I love Annabeth Chase. No matter how old I am or how many times I reread the books, she has always been my favorite character. Kristin Stokes’ interpretation of Annabeth lined up very closely with my own; Annabeth has always been a character I relate to, and Stokes’ Annabeth felt very familiar and intimate, as if Annabeth herself had stepped off the page and onto the stage.

Ryan Knowles
Ryan Knowles as Medusa

Perhaps the most impressive performance was by Ryan Knowles, who played Chiron — the centaur Trainer of Heroes at Camp Half Blood — as well as a host of hilarious other characters. Any time he was onstage, he absolutely stole the show, whether he was galloping like a horse or dressing in drag as the uproariously terrifying Auntie “M” — short for Medusa.

The breathtaking special effects and tech were by far my favorite part of the show. The set was mostly minimalist-industrial, with scaffolding reminiscent of Newsies set in front of Greek columns covered in graffiti. I was especially impressed by the use of humans, props, and even puppets to create the monsters; I loved the transformation from Mrs. Dodds to the fury during “Prologue/The Day I Got Expelled” and the statues in Auntie M’s Garden Emporium.

The company of The Lightning Thief
Company of The Lightning Thief

The Lighting Thief was an incredible experience ripe with comedy, drama, amazing music, and stunning technical elements. Whether you are a Percy Jackson fan, musical enthusiast, or just a person who likes to have a good time, I would highly recommend going to see this show. The North American tour is coming to a close on Sunday, 28 July 2019, but fans remain hopeful for an Off-Broadway revival or even a Broadway transfer (please!). With all the closing announcements recently, I can think of a few theatres for The Lightning Thief to occupy: Circle in the Square (currently home to Oklahoma!), Neil Simon Theatre (The Cher Show), Brooks Atkinson (Waitress (my personal favorite theatre!!!!!!)), Nederlander (Pretty Woman), Broadway (King Kong), Longacre (The Prom), Lyceum (Be More Chill), Hayes-Second Stage (What the Constitution Means to Me), Hudson (Sea Wall/A Life), Golden (Slave Play), Booth (freestyle love supreme), or Lunt-Fontanne (Manilow Broadway). If none of these are appealing, feel free to take over the Marquis Theatre — just saying.

Even if no transfer is announced, I am certain this will not be the end for The Lightning Thief. I anxiously await the next production — or perhaps an adaptation of the rest of the books (Joe Tracz + creative team, if you’re reading this, please) — and will be streaming the soundtrack until Percy Jackson returns to the stage.

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A Dream Come True: Shahadi Wright-Joseph and JD McCrary Talk Disney’s “The Lion King”

by Jenna McLaughlin, Class of 2023

The Lion King was released in theaters this Friday, July 19. I had the amazing opportunity to meet and interview the extremely talented Shahadi Wright-Joseph (Young Nala) and JD McCrary (Young Simba), the stars of Disney’s newest movie, The Lion King!

photo courtesy of John Vitti

JD McCrary was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up singing in a musically inclined family. At a young age, he pointed to the TV and asked, “Hey Mom, can I do that?” Six years later, here he is. While recording, JD didn’t realize he would be playing the younger version of such a big name as Donald Glover, and didn’t find out until he performed with him at the Grammys. He “just thought it was a real blessing. It is a huge honor being in such a huge movie like this.”

photo courtesy of John Vitti
photo courtesy of John Vitti

Shahadi Wright-Joseph, a native of New York, has wanted to perform from a very young age. The Lion King on Broadway was her first-ever audition, and after getting that, she knew that was what she wanted to do with her life. She grew up watching The Lion King, so she was super excited to be in not only the Broadway adaptation, but also the new live-action remake. She also explained, “I remembered a lot of the things I learned from Broadway, but wanted to make the characters a bit different so we could differentiate between the onstage Lion King and the new one.”

Another movie starring Shahadi, Us, was also recently released, and she stated she was “glad she was able to showcase herself as a serious actor before The Lion King came out.” She said that working on Us was challenging and “one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do,” but that she loved the challenge and had so much fun. She also said that when she was buying movie tickets to see Us, she was kicked out of the movie theater with her friends even though she was in the movie!

photo courtesy of John Vitti

They both said the easiest part about portraying these best friends was the chemistry. Shahadi says the spark was already there when they met, so the actors were already prepared to play Young Nala and Young Simba.

photo courtesy of John Vitti

When asked what their friends from home think of their amazing successes, they both agreed most didn’t care. Shahadi goes to an arts school where many kids are well-known. She said her locker-mate just won a Tony Award, and they don’t say anything about it and “don’t talk about their work at school, because when they go to school, that’s what they want to get away from.”

In order to create Pride Rock, the Savannah, the Watering Hole, and even the Elephant Graveyard, actors used Virtual Reality headsets, which both JD and Shahadi considered “the best part” of working on The Lion King. The headsets created a virtual film set which both agreed “felt real.”

photo courtesy of John Vitti

JD knows audiences will love this classic story. Disney’s creative team have “outdone themselves with graphics that feel so real.” He hopes people will love it as much as he does. Shahadi explains, “it was a totally new experience from any of the other versions of The Lion King.” She says she “laughed so much more, cried so much more, and hopes families love it because the story is about family.” Having seen the movie, I totally agree the experience in this version is like no other.

What’s next for these young stars? Both are ready to make a splash on the music industry.

McCrary just released an EP called “Shine,” and has two singles out: “Keep in Touch” and “My Name.”

Shahadi’s single, “Skin I’m In,” was exclusively debuted by Billboard on July 13, 2019.

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The new “Lion King” Live-Action Remake Teaches Powerful Lessons of Love, Loyalty, and Fighting for Your Destiny.

by Jenna McLaughlin, Class of 2023

From a chills-inducing opening scene to stunning CGI visuals to a breathtaking soundtrack by Tim Rice and Elton John, The Lion King is truly captivating, so “Be Prepared.” 

Simba is the future king and heir of his father, Mufasa, who is played by James Earl Jones — reprising his role from the 1994 film. Simba’s jealous and evil uncle, Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) plans to overthrow the throne and become the new king of The Pride Lands. Shahadi Wright Joseph portrays Young Nala in this adaptation — she is no stranger to The Lion King, having portrayed Young Nala on Broadway between September 23, 2014 and September 20, 2015.  Adult Simba is played by Grammy award-winning artist Donald Glover, who steals audiences’ hearts from his first on-screen appearance and captures perfectly the innocence of Simba. Beyonce (Nala) will become one of the highest paid actresses in 2019 thanks to her starring role. She has also produced and arranged an album to accompany the film: “The Lion King: The Gift.” The album release is scheduled for July 19, the day after the movie opens in theaters. The scene-stealing duo Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan, who play the hilarious Pumbaa and Timon, taught the important lesson that “You can’t change the past, but you can change the future,” and “Everybody is somebody, even nobody.”

photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Lion King is directed by Jon Favreau — known for directing the films Elf (2003), and The Jungle Book (2016). The breathtaking cinematography was by Caleb Deschanel, a six-time Academy Award nominee. The film’s score is composed by the extremely talented German record producer and head of the film music division at DreamWorks studios, Hans Zimmer.

I really enjoyed this movie. However, not everyone agrees. Critics say that a new Lion King is unnecessary, due to the preexisting media, from the original 1994 movie, to a tv series, and the stage musical, which has been running on Broadway since 1997. I agree that there is plenty of Lion King media that has been created based on the original film, and was skeptical of the live-action remake, which critics worried would be not much more than a cash grab based on an already profitable franchise for Disney. However, I became more attached to the new remake because of the realistic facial expressions of each character and exciting fight scenes. The soundtrack was inspired by the Broadway version of The Lion King, yet brought a new vibrancy, featuring the extremely talented Donald Glover and Beyonce. Despite the fact I knew what was going to happen, I was truly invested the entire time.

Many will love this new adaptation of the beloved Disney classic. You will laugh, cry, and be on the edge of your seat the entire time. However, due to the realistic nature of the film, I would not recommend taking a young child to this movie because some scenes may be too intense or scary. 

I would highly recommend seeing The Lion King as it roars into theaters July 18, 2019. 

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“Fighting with My Family” Review

“Fighting with My Family” is a biopic based on a documentary of the same name that follows the Bevis family, most commonly known by their wrestling last name of “Knight.” Despite the movie being about wrestlers, the movie tries its best to appeal to all audiences, even those who do not follow wrestling, by simplifying certain confusing elements of the business, having strong characters, and a far-reaching message. For those unfamiliar with the “Knight” family, they are wrestlers from England who founded the World Association of Wrestling (WAW). Though the film includes each of the family members, the movie mostly focuses on the youngest and only daughter, Saraya, and the youngest son, Zak, played Florence Pugh and Jack Lowden, respectively. These two characters are representative of the two main story threads of the film.

The story of Saraya, most commonly known by her WWE ring name, Paige, mainly focuses on her journey to America to compete for the WWE. While trying to prove herself, she struggles with her image and attitude. Saraya’s character arc in the film is well-developed showing how she finds herself as both a wrestler and an individual. When she first arrives in America, it seems like it will be a cliche story of how the “outcast” overcomes the stereotypical popular group, represented by three girls who were hired by the WWE despite having no prior wrestling experience. However, much to the movie’s credit, this trope is subverted and adds much needed depth to Saraya’s storyline that seems to be lacking at the beginning. Another positive is that, despite being in America for the majority of the film, she is still an active part of the coinciding storyline in England especially during her return home for a short visit. Despite portraying Saraya in two very strong arcs, the one in regards to her family is the superior due to the fact that her other arc seems very typical at first. However, on the subject of family, Zac’s arc was both more focused on it, since he did not have a second arc, and slightly better because of it.

One key thing to note regarding Saraya’s character arc is that there are some major differences between what occurred in real life and what occurs in the movie. One change, that I can only assume is to make the movie more accessible to non-wrestling fans, is the format change to NXT. NXT is the developmental brand of the WWE that also airs weekly shows on the WWE Network. In the movie; however, NXT is made out to be just a training program that puts on the occasional live show. This completely modifies Saraya’s character arc in regards to her in-ring career in the WWE. In NXT, Paige was the first ever women’s champion, while in the movie the title seemingly never existed. Saraya also changed the landscape of women’s wrestling by being one of the women to validate it because of her career in NXT. This is again not evident in the movie, though her impact on women’s wrestling is mentioned in the credits. By not showing at least some of her achievements in NXT, it is confusing to both wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans alike why she was moved to the main roster of the WWE and given a title opportunity on her first night up. This difference also completely changes the final scene of the movie and makes her in-ring progression seem slightly stagnant due to her challenging of AJ Lee, played masterfully by fellow wrestler Thea Trinidad, more commonly known by her ring name Zelina Vega, being less grand since nobody in the audience knew Paige. I do applaud the movie for staying true to its alternation of the NXT format by having the audience of the WWE react to Paige’s first encounter with them in a manner as if Paige’s achievements in NXT did not happen, though I feel like some wrestling fans may be unhappy with these changes because of how differently the character of Paige is presented just to make the movie more understandable to general audiences. The changes that were made mostly make sense and help to progress the character of Saraya and present her story in an easier to understand fashion, even though the changes stifle the personality of Paige and make it appear as though she did not make as much of an impact upon women’s wrestling as she actually did.

The other main character in the movie, Zak, has an arc more tied into the theme of family. Zak, like the rest of his family, is a wrestler and dreams of going to the WWE. When Zak and his sister are called to tryout for the WWE, everyone expects Zak to get in. However, when he does not and his younger sister does, he begins to grow distant from everybody, especially Saraya. Zak loses sight of his goals and passions and can only focus on his rising anger in regards to his sister fulfilling his dream. One key reason this arc works so well is the performance by Jack Lowden. Every emotion that Zak feels, the audience can feel because of how expressive he is. The change in dynamic between Saraya and Zak before and after the WWE tryout is also a prime factor in this arc’s success. Even though it was not the arc I was expecting to find the most satisfying when I entered the movie, it was the one I enjoyed the most. Zak’s storyline allows for many entertaining side characters and entertaining performances by Lena Headey and Nick Frost as the matriarch and patriarch of the family. I believe that since it was not bogged down in trying to strike a balance of trying to explain the dynamics of the WWE and especially the climate of the “Divas” era of the women’s division, this arc was able to just focus on sibling rivalry and self-doubt in such a universal and emotional manner.

Though it does have canonical issues that some people may react sour to, the movie will probably satisfy most wrestling fans because of how it has an obvious respect for the business, which makes sense given that it was produced by Dwayne Johnson. For the general moviegoer, although some of the wrestling aspects may not make sense, they will find the strong storylines of the characters, the performances, and how relatable much of it is, appealing. I feel as if this movie was created for both groups of people, though I feel that if one group was to be left more dissatisfied it would most likely be the wrestling fans because of the fact that the movie had been rumored in the wrestling community long before its creation and it may not be exactly what they expected since it is less a story of “Paige” and more the story of Saraya, her brother Zak, and an independent promotion in England. If you look past that, however, you will find a familiar yet entertaining movie about sports and family.

By: Maria Aliberti