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Theatre Review: Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing Returns… Again?

By: Angelina Kemmett, ’18

If critics crushed the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing, why would it be revived on stage?  The answer is simple: decades-long audience adoration that shows no signs of slowing.  In reality, it is not a review from a professional that makes a performance sink or swim, but fan response.  Case in point: the recent ABC network reboot of the movie was universally panned by reviewers and casual watchers alike, who were skeptical even before its airing.  Enthusiasts of the original movie just could not find it in them to enjoy this rendition.  Though Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story Live on Stage does not pose all the same problems as the ABC live version, it is not free of missteps.

Dirty Dancing starts off almost right away with a scene transition and does not take a break the rest of the show.  These shifts are frequent and jarring, often making for a narrative pace nearly as offbeat as Baby Houseman before her dance lessons.  Erica Philpot provides dazzling vocals as Elizabeth (especially in her rendition of “We Shall Overcome”), but her songs often seem out of place, merely used to cover up the moving of various set pieces.  The dancing that accompanies other set changes makes much more sense, given that Dirty Dancing should be, like its source material, a play about dance, not a musical–a distinction some cannot seem to grasp.

Not all acting is created equal, as one finds in the audience of Dancing. The leads overact the show’s drama, replacing emotion with monotonous yelling.  A handful of lines are briefly started incorrectly, then fixed on a second try. This is strange to see in a play where many of the lines are taken directly from the movie it is based on–a play I could lip sync at parts just from having seen its preceding film.  In addition, Kaleigh Courts (Frances “Baby” Houseman) struggles to open a door and seems to be cursed with a broken dress. She handles her wardrobe malfunction like the professional she is, keeping her cool and coming on for the performance at the Sheldrake Hotel with the frock looking to be pinned together in the back.  Another character quickly steps on stage and back off again, appearing to have mixed up his cues.

What does everyone presumably go to see a play called Dirty Dancing for?  The dancing!  In that area, there is no disappointment.  Every dancer, from principal character to ensemble, is tremendously skilled.  Their training shows in each effortless step. Anaïs Blake shines as Penny, stealing the show with her incomparable stage presence and dance prowess.

What Courts and Aaron Patrick Craven (Johnny Castle) lack in dramatic performance, they make up for in comedy, striking its timing like that of their dancing.  Courts’s physical comedy is especially hilarious, as she shakes her hips without rhythm and Craven’s character eventually joins in on her goofy hand motions. Other notable comedians are Rick Grossman (Max Kellerman), Owen Russell (Neil Kellerman), and Demitra Pace (Lisa Houseman).  Nickolaus Colõn’s (Billy Kosteki) voice, not showcased until almost the end, is unexpected and worth the wait.  He hits every note beautifully, causing a rush of applause.

The finale nearly erases every one of my issues with the play.  “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” is infectious. Everyone in the audience claps along.  There are audible cheers as not one, but two love stories culminate in possibly the most famous dance sequence of all time–the second being the secondary storyline of Billy and Elizabeth, the two principle singers of the show, whose pining for each other during set changes leads to their eventual union, the best thing to come out of the play’s numerous transitions. Neil Kellerman is given more dimension, leaving Kellerman’s to be a Freedom Rider.  Most importantly, the “Dirty Dancing lift” is completely flawless.  Seeing that happen in real life is one of the best theatre experiences I have ever had.  If you do not believe me, go see the show for yourself and let the thunderous cheers of the audience tell you.  Dirty Dancing is worth it if even solely for that one scene.

Despite my gripes, I enjoyed Dirty Dancing.  It was mostly faithful to the movie, and I found myself invested in aspects of the story while watching that I had not been before.  It was a great deal of fun, if not the best play I have ever seen. As Hugh Jackman says in The Greatest Showman: “A theatre critic who can’t find the joy in theatre–now who’s the fraud?”  This critic will always have a great time at the theatre; if I could not, why would I keep going?  If you give this Dirty Dancing a chance, I assure you that you will find joy, too.
Dirty Dancing is playing at Boston’s Boch Center Shubert Theatre through June 17.

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Ava’s Goodbye

Well, the time has come for me to log out. Working on the Mirror has been a dream – a dream that Angelina and I created together. We started with a lot of ideas – meeting at a coffee shop over the summer and scribbling them all down. Although many were too ambitious to start with, they reflected our enthusiasm for this project. In the fall when we finally got our website and club started, it began to feel like our dream was being put into action.

The execution was a lot harder than we thought it would be and getting ready for a website release wasn’t as linear as we hoped. We needed time to develop ideas and build a structure that would last. I hope that’s what we did. We hit some road blocks, and some articles were written way before our website went live. But our staff remained dedicated and patient as we went along, creating content that made our website an instant success when it was completed in January. It felt amazing to publish our website, everything we had been doing had been leading up to that moment. Finally, all the hard work our staff had put in was available for everyone to see. With every organization like this one, there are things to work out, but we successfully continue to update our paper and publish the lovely news that everyone works on.

It feels weird to leave the Mirror so soon after its creation – part of me feels so unfinished. As it continues to grow, I know there will be so much more to do, more changes and improvements to make. I know the future is bright for the Mirror and part of me wishes I could stay just to ensure the success. But I’m not worried. We’re leaving our hard work in the charge of Gina and Maria, two upcoming seniors that will see the Mirror through even more growth. I know that along with the rest of the staff, they will build the newspaper up. They will move mountains and shatter glass ceilings – I can’t wait to see the future of the Mirror.

We were the beginning. I’m so proud of the simple idea that turned into several ideas that turned into a club and eventually into newspaper. Spreadsheets and assignments turned into articles, website themes turned into an online paper – this was the beginning of the Matignon Mirror as it exists.  It was the beginning, but only the beginning. I’m proud of the beginning, but I can’t wait to see the next step.

But anyways, this is goodbye for me. Thank you for supporting us along this journey. To our wonderful staff, thank you for all your hard work and dedication, for all of the amazing talents you’ve used here, for putting up with our shaky start, thank you. Thank to everyone for reading the Mirror, for following us on twitter, for clicking our links, for scrolling through articles or looking at photos, for enjoying the creative submissions, or sharing any of our content. You’ve made it possible for us to create the dream, and you make it possible for the reality to continue. Thank you for being here at the beginning, I hope you continue to support the Mirror as it grows. I know I will. Thank you, and goodbye.

-Ava Berarducci

 

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The French Exchange Experience

     After months of preparing, the French exchange group flew to Paris, France on the night before Easter. The group consisted of Ashley Murphy, Alison Madsen, Jake Hogan, Stefan Ceccherini, Kathrine Parella, and me, Rada Ruggles, accompanied by our school’s French teacher, Mrs. Gaffey and her husband. Upon arriving in France, the group was taken to the school and greeted by our host families. Previously in October, the students of these families made the trip to visit our school and gain an experience of living in America, similar to the one we were just starting. My exchange student was Leanne and her parents were Danielle and Laurent. My host family took me all over Paris, from the Eiffel Tower, the Arch of Triumph, the Opera and various other famous monuments. I got to try authentic French Cuisine that my exchange mother cooked for us all to eat for dinner.

     During the week, the group would meet during the day and visit various famous places in Paris. The first day, we visited Versailles, the old palace of the kings and queens of France. It was really interesting to see how these people lived during the time period that the palace was occupied. That afternoon we went to Hotel des Invalides, where the tomb of Napoleon is and the Musee Rodin! We all took photos with Le Penseur and that was only the first day! The second day we went to Sacre Coeur, a beautiful basilica, and the town of Montmartre. We then went to the Louvre and saw all the famous painting that we had learned about in class such as Le Sacre de Napoleon and statues like La Venus de Milo. Thursday we went to the Musee D’Orsay and got to impressionist paintings, which we studied in class previously, as well as famous sculptures and other famous artworks! We then walked along the Garden of Tuileries and down the Champs-Elysees! After that we went to the Pantheon, where famous people such as Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, and many more were buried. It was inspiring to know we were standing next to the tombs of some of the greatest French authors and philosophers. Friday morning we went to Chartre, a small little town with a beautiful cathedral. We learned about the history of the cathedral, and some interesting biblical history as well! After that, we walked around the small town and everyone was able to try a Croque Monsieur or a Croque Madame! The Croque Madame is the same as a Monsieur except it has a egg on it. It was all very delicious! That afternoon we got to drive around Paris, and see various famous sites. On our final weekend, my host family and I went to the Notre Dame Cathedral and walked around the famous neighborhood around the beautiful cathedral. We even got to go to Victor Hugo’s house.  

     We came home sadly on Sunday morning and arrived mid afternoon on Sunday, Boston time. It was a lifetime experience and we got to do so many incredible activities that we would never get to do elsewhere. Our host families made us all feel at home and getting the full experience of living with a French Family was really the main point of going on this trip. We were very sad to leave,but we have the memories to remember this beautiful trip.

By Rada Ruggles

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“You Will Find That Sunset Days Make You Who You Are”

these sunset days are yours.
you’ll trip and fall, sure, but at the end you’ll finally stand steady.
these sunset days teach you what happiness is.
they teach you about family, about home,
and most importantly to someone who once stood unsure,
they teach you who you are.
these sunset days are yours.

you sing off key broadway songs at seven am on packed school buses,
and you drink so much coffee you think you might explode.
you talk too fast and stress too much, but the stress is bearable
because there are 20 other people on that bus,
and you shared iced teas, bagels, and teddy grahams.
they have hair straighteners and clipboards and gossip,
and laughs that fill you with incredible happiness.
and their stress sits there, right alongside yours.
you argue about which songs to play,
screaming across the bus just to be heard.
you recite the whole play exactly at the same time,
to the confusion of the bus driver listening in.
you are together from before sunrise to after sunset,
but there is nowhere else you would rather be.
if the day stills glows after all that,
you know they must be family.

you watch the same scene a hundred times
while you laugh with each other backstage,
even when you really shouldn’t be talking.
you misplace your script so many times that you’re constantly reaching for the ones around you,
and you climb onto set pieces and under tables in an attempt to be stealthy.
you carry random pieces of furniture through high schools,
and accidentally bruise yourself more times than you can count.
when you are among broken pieces of furniture and painted pieces of cardboard,
and paper mache trees and costumes strewn about on scraped staged,
you know you are home.

once someone told you, “this is what you’re made for, kid.”
you took these words to heart,
because you are made for this and made of this, all at once.
you are made of black socks and splinters,
of the writing on the wall that commemorates everyone before you,
you are made of jetting across the stage with props,
and taking your shoes off the minute you enter the auditorium.
you are also made of extra large meatball subs from Angelina’s,
and high fives given in the middle of a show.
you are made of colored tape covering the stage,
of jumbled, tangled, sound wires,
and wearing your paint clothes every day for a month.
you have never felt more you than when you are running around backstage,
scribbling notes along margins of scripts,
or spending hours upon hours at rehearsal.
you are you when the lights are dimmed
and the curtains are open three fourths of the way.
when you stand there and know the puzzle pieces have all been found,
when you feel complete in these moments,
that’s when you realize it is not what you do but who you are.

you cry happy tears after great performances,
and every time you think about those moments, you cry again.
you make sappy speeches on bus rides home after long days,
and sob as everyone else makes their own sappy speeches, because you’re a sappy bunch.
as the bus drives on and the night gets late,
you feel as if you could live in this moment forever.

you know one day it will be time to turn off the lights for the last time,
you’ll no longer be waiting for the next script or the next dunks run,
but this people will always be your family, this place will always be your home,
and this will always be who you are.

these sunset days are yours, but these days make you you.

By Ava Berarducci

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“The Hills are Alive!” : The Sound of Music Comes to Boston’s Boch Center

By: Angelina Kemmett

Everyone has heard of The Sound of Music.  Most would first think of the Julie Andrews movie musical, perhaps focusing on the song “My Favorite Things,” popularly used as a Christmas carol.  But before the true story of the Trapp Family Singers was adapted for the silver screen, it made its way to the stage. Nowadays, the tale of an Austrian family united in song in a time of war continues to warm the hearts and empty the tear ducts of audience members of all ages.

Currently, the talented touring cast of the show have set up shop at Boston’s Boch Center Wang Theater.  From the youngest Von Trapp child, Gretyl, to the oldest character, each and every cast member is better than the one before.  Especially notable is the actress who plays “Mother Abbess”; her high notes fill the theater with feeling and do not waver, and her stern lovingness toward Mara is beautifully portrayed.  As for Maria and Captain Von Trapp, the two actors, both remarkable in their own ways, do a wonderful job of showing that they are in love without their words. Their voices blend together as remarkably as their stories.

The Sound of Music is complete with stunningly ornate, while not over the top, set pieces. The most thrilling component of the set is the breathtaking mountain view through the grand floor to ceiling windows of the Von Trapp home.  Add together great acting, great singing, and great backdrops and get a play that is more than worth the over two hour run time. Especially watch for “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and “Climb Every Mountain,” and for when the Captain first sings for his children.  You will not be disappointed.

The Sound of Music runs through May 13.

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Junior Night

The evening of April 26th was Matignon High School’s annual Junior Night. The event was a night to celebrate both the junior class’s achievements and to recognize that we will soon be the leaders of this school. First, there was mass led by Father Nedder and accompanied by the Choir. The Gospel reading was one that our class chose that meant a great deal to us, “The Good Samaritan,” which we had gone over many times in theology class in our previous years. The offering was composed of objects that symbolizes our learning and development as people of God. Some of the objects that were included were a computer, a globe, and a dictionary. The class rings and jewelry were brought up at this time as well. To conclude the Mass, Father Nedder blessed the rings, sprinkling water on them before blessing all the juniors with the holy water, either by throwing it or making the sign of the cross on our foreheads. After Mass, all of the juniors and their families made their way to the cafeteria for a lovely dinner. It was there that we were able to pick up our class jewelry and put it on for the first time, a symbol of our class and how much we have gone through together. The evening ended with a slideshow, created by the student council officers, of pictures that were taken throughout t the past three years that we have been at the school. It was a wonderful night to come together and celebrate who we are as people and as a class.

By Rada Ruggles