Tag: Megan Wise

Review: A ‘Wicked’ good time

Under the green glow of the Fox Theatre’s lights in the hustle and bustle of Atlanta, the highly anticipated and beloved musical, Wicked, has returned. Based on the novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, and winner of over fifty major awards including the Grammy Award and three Tony Awards, Wicked is the untold story of the witches of Oz.

Long before Dorothy dropped in, two other girls met in the land of Oz. One, born with emerald green skin, is smart, fiery, and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious, and well adored. This heart-warming show tells the story of their remarkable odyssey, while also leaving you anxious to catch a re-run of the classic film.

Starring Alyssa Fox as Elphaba (Wicked Witch of the West) and Carrie St. Louis as Glinda, it comes as no surprise as to why these shows left Atlanta with sold out performances and standing ovations. With the heavy reputation this musical carries, songs such as “Popular” and “Defying Gravity” leave the performers with big shoes to fill. Not only were these leading ladies able to go above and beyond doing so, but were also able to add their own charisma and twists to the characters themselves.

Both Elphaba and Glinda’s characters are both very uniquely written characters. Although she’s a typical “blonde girl” stereotype, Carrie St. Louis’ Glinda had the disposition and charm of Elle Woods from Legally Blond, but with the kind of sincerity that makes you giggle-snort as she makes absurd comments while also pulling at your heartstrings. Without a doubt, Alyssa Fox’s Elphaba was definitely the bluntest, most intelligent, and charming portrayal I have ever seen, and that’s a big statement.

Elphaba might possibly be one of the most complex characters in the Broadway world. Born into a world that doesn’t accept her, her only wish is to do well and have a bright future, but when she learns a dark secret concerning the Great and Powerful Oz, she is ostracized and given the title of the Wicked Witch as we all know and love her. Not only did Alyssa Fox embody this tale beautifully, but the vocals of both she and Ms. St. Louis were nothing short of phenomenal.

While the show just finished its tour in Atlanta, this show tends to run quite frequently due to its popular status in the theatrical world. Even for those who aren’t huge fans of the original 1939 film, the show itself transcends all age groups and is worth looking into—and for all those who missed this year’s run, the tale of two witches is coming to the Magic City next summer. Beware, all you Birmingham natives— something Wicked this way comes.

Megan Wise
Staff Writer

The Last Five Years: confusing from the beginning to the end

If you go in blind, you’re going to leave that way. This past week, The Last Five Years, based on the musical written by Jason Robert Brown, premiered. While most musical fans will rejoice over the film adaptation, those who aren’t overly fond of production numbers as problem solvers will be at a loss.

The story explores a five-year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist, and Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress. Their story is told almost entirely through songs using an interweaving time line. All of Cathy’s songs begin at the end of their marriage and move backwards in time to the beginning of their love affair while Jamie’s songs start at the beginning of their affair and move forward to the end of their marriage. They meet in the center when Jamie proposes.

Unless one did their research prior to seeing the film, this chronology won’t make much sense. While the cast is refreshing and sincere, the movie definitely struck a few awkward notes in its transition between the stage to the big screen. In the stage adaptation, this play gives off charm and appeal, but to this writer most of it is lost in the cinematic universe. Adapting a hit stage production to the big screen is always a bit challenging. When it’s a full blown musical, the challenge grows exponentially. Surprisingly, it’s not the talented leads that provide the interest here and hold the focus, but rather the story structure.

While the lyrics are clever and adequately describe each relationship change, the repetitive lyrics and non-stop singing prevent the viewers from ever connecting to the characters, and more importantly prevent them from understanding how these two characters ever connected to each other in the first place. Rather than tell a love story, it comes across as a moment of passion that turns into a relationship between two people who don’t have much in common and don’t particularly care for each other. Without giving away any spoilers, at the end of the day the story comes full circle; sunset to sunrise, and sunrise to sunset. What it comes down to is the lack of spirit in the music and the 90 minutes of the same two voices that prevent this from being something special. For the average movie-goer, it’s definitely a “pass at the theaters and wait for it at Redbox” movie.

Megan Wise
Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day: Dating for days

It’s pretty evident that Valentine’s Day is upon us here at Jacksonville State University. Whether you’re running to Wal-mart for some last minute pasta or jamming out to punk-rock on the radio, the pink-and-red spangled holiday has made its presence known. While it’s cute for some people, others might dread its arrival along with the accompanying pressure of finding the right way to celebrate it with their significant other. Nowadays, Valentine’s has become about coming up with that Instagram worthy moment.

Some people resort to thirty dollar teddy bears that take up the passenger’s seat while others stick with on quiet, Skype date-nights at home, but what it all boils on down to is what really makes us want to celebrate such a sugar-coated holiday?

For those of us who have found some poor soul who agree to put up with us, I believe Valentine’s Day to be a highlighted day on the calendar. Worth noting, but not necessarily more important than any other day of the year. On February 14, I certainly want them to know they are cared for and appreciated, but at the same time I also hope they know this every other day of the year as well.

While it’s true that I’m making an effort to find small things that remind me of them and make the day as special as I can for us, I’m going to approach it with the same passion as I do for any day that I’m blessed to be with them. Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to Valentine’s Day, but just remember to show that you care about that someone, not just for today, but for the other 364 days of the year.

Megan Wise
Staff Writer

Chowing down at Chow’s Seafood & Asian Bistro

Alex McFry/Chanticleer
Alex McFry/Chanticleer

Ever get out of class craving fried rice or egg rolls? Look no further than just past the Square in Jacksonville down the road from Jacksonville State University. Across the street from Jack’s lies Chow’s Seafood and Asian Bistro.

While the outside is a bit skeptical to a new customer, the atmosphere of the inside definitely sets your mood to ‘chow down’. The staff was very friendly and attentive to their customers which definitely contributed to the relaxed feel of the place.

The food itself may appear simple, but will make up for it in flavor. The crab ragoons in particular were rather wonderful. All the food we ordered was quickly served and beautifully presented. As far as meals go, I was told the sweet and sour chicken was quite popular, and it did meet its reputation.

The menu’s range is impressive, containing everything from items General Tso’s chicken to pad thai to fried green tomatoes. Needless to say, there is almost certainly something on the menu to satisfy everyone in your group’s palette. As an added plus, they also feature a lunch menu, offer carry out, and are open seven days a week.

Overall, it is a pretty cool hole-in-the-wall for all those out there who have a love for Asian cuisine. Although the outside is questionable, the service and food definitely outshine it to where it’s not even noticeable upon leaving. The set-up of the tables and booths on the inside are quaint and are well suited for small groups and couples looking to either munch on spring rolls between classes or take their time enjoying the pupu platter.

If anything else, pick up a to-go menu and be sure to check out their specials for a worth-while excuse to treat yourself. I, for one, definitely know I will be returning.

Mad Hatter secures spot on the square

In the next few weeks, students will no longer be able to snag a cupcake from the Mad Hatter Cupcake Shop on Coffee Street—they can pop in to their new and improved location on the square, instead.

Everyone in Jacksonville (and surrounding towns, too) knows that when a craving for an extraordinary cupcake kicks in, Mad Hatter’s is the place to go. Currently located just off of the square with their signature “hat-sign,” it’s the place with all the cupcakes that are not only gorgeous to look at and delicious to eat—but are each cleverly themed, too. With names like, “Buddy the Elf,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” and yes, even “Maple Bacon,” Mad Hatter Cupcakes offers one of the most unique dessert experiences on this side of the state.

Over the past few weeks, the company has been gearing up for their next big renovation—a change in scenery.
Owner Carol Watts explains why they are leaving their location on Coffee Street to the square, located between That Shop and the dance studio in the building that was formerly Joe Beer.

“I have always wanted to have a bigger space… the old building is nice but it’s small and kind of a cramped space for eating in and this building provides more space for just that. It is a sudden move, and I am not very big on change, but I think this is going to be great for our business!”

Mad Hatter offers a wide selection of twelve unique flavors, with a different menu every day, ensuring customers that the tiny treats are baked fresh each and every day.

Another thing that this new building might bring to the business is the opportunity of hosting birthday parties and other events hopefully at some point in the future.

The goal for the opening of the new Mad Hatters is set for the first week of February; however, Watts assures us that they will definitely be settled into the new location before Valentine’s Day—their biggest holiday for deliveries and dine-ins alike.

“We hope it will be a seamless transition from the old location to the new location. We don’t want our customers to have an operating day where we don’t sell our cupcakes,” regarded Watts.

Micah McNair, an employee at Mad Hatter, was nothing but positive about the store’s grand re-opening, which could happen as soon as next week.

“Let’s do it! People seem excited,” McNair said.

“All we gotta do is get the word out before Valentine’s Day.”

Andrew Record, a JSU student majoring in finance, has been working part-time at Mad Hatter’s for about two years, and he loves every minute of it.

When asked what makes Mad Hatter such an enjoyable play to work, Record said, “the fun environment. Its a really fun place to work, and the people are great. I’m really excited for the move.”

If this move is successful and Mad Hatter’s business continues to grow, Watts hopes to someday open up a food truck to be able to sell cupcakes in the Anniston and Oxford areas. Don’t worry—the much-needed cupcake pit stop isn’t leaving Jacksonville anytime soon. The Mad Hatter Cupcake Shop can be found on Facebook, where photos of the menu items are posted on a daily basis.