Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway: A Review

Last weekend I took a train from Rochester to NYC to see my friend and watch Dear Evan Hansen. I followed the hype train surrounding the show and figured after watching Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway, this show had to be top-tier. I bought the soundtrack and listened to it nonstop. I have to say it’s one of the best soundtracks for a show I’ve listened to. You Will Be Found and So Big / So Small always make me cry, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. But, Dear Evan Hansen definitely is not infallible.

The show begins with the stage open, media from different social media sites are shown with the little notification sounds playing, and a bed, Evan’s, is center stage. Lights go out and brought back to see Evan sitting on his bed trying to write the letter to himself because he has very high social anxiety, so the letter is to help boost his confidence. Does Anybody Have a Map moves along, the bed disappears on its own and in comes Connor’s family. Connor doesn’t want to go to school, and his mom tries to make him but it doesn’t help that he’s high. One of my favorite things in this play honestly is the set design.

It’s very minimalistic in design, but has a lot of technological pieces. The set of the bed, kitchen table and couch are on platforms that move on stage on their own by some machination under the stage and directed from off stage. The beds for Connor and Evan is the same with just a switch of the bedding and knickknacks. I thing the couch is done somehow similar or they just used the same one for both homes. Lighting is done well, but nothing really outstanding. These pieces really help frame the music of the play.

The music is honestly one of my favorite aspects of this musical. It’s emotional. It gets you going, and knows when to bring you back down. The dynamics are amazing. The pit is in the air and towards the back of the stage which I like as a difference from the normal put in front and below the stage.

We had a stand in for our matinée performance on Saturday, his name is Michael Lee Brown, and he is such an amazing actor. Because of the character has such high anxiety, he has these small ticks like bending his ankle whenever he gets super nervous talking to someone or moving his arms in a certain way. Michael Brown kept up the same ticks throughout the entire show. I loved his performance and everyone else in the production. I liked the decision to keep Connor popping up throughout the entire play instead of just doing a voice or something after the character (Spoiler) kills himself.

Dear Evan Hansen is a good musical. Did it deserve the Tony for best musical for 2017, in my honest opinion no. After seeing Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, even with the ridiculousness over the Pierre fiasco, is on a whole other level. But I digress. Dear Evan Hansen is a good show to see. If you can’t afford the tickets, wait for the tour because I honestly don’t think it was worth the $270 per ticket we paid for, but that’s show business. It’ll make you laugh, cry and everything in between.

 

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, A Review

So I’ve been playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and I have to say I am completely addicted. The art style is beautiful, and for reference I am playing this on the Wii U. I love the music and the new takes on some of the old songs, like Epona’s song that Kass plays on his accordion sometimes when you find him. The weapons were interesting, but I’m still on the fence about them breaking all the time. I also really liked the story and all of the champions and what they added to the story.

From watching the trailers, I was very wary about the new changes, the stamina bar because we all know how well that went in Skyward Sword, the breakable weapons and shields, and other things that are minor in return. I didn’t pre-order it, I watch Youtubers and people on Twitch and I knew they were going to lay it, so I stayed back in wait to see at least the first few minutes of it. I was hooked. I watched The Demodcracy on Twitch at midnight on Thursday and immediately wanted to buy it on Friday. If you were second guessing, I suggest watching someone play it.

I’m not going to say much about the plot, it’s your typical, Ganon is about to break free, defeat these four dungeons, and then defeat Ganon. I liked searching the different landscapes for the towers to bring up the maps of the areas. Finding the Master Sword was easy, but who would’ve known you needed 13 hearts to pull it out. I also found all 120 shrines, but about half I needed to use a guide for. But, I still spent 10 minutes on some even knowing where they were, or with the challenges to get into some of them. I’m really glad I did find them all because it was nice having 2.5 stamina circles and 30 hearts going into the final battle.

Now, other than the weapons breaking, I think my biggest problem with this game is the drop in frame rates. I don’t know what it is about a battle with more than two enemies, but on the Wii U, there is a huge drop in frame rate in battles. The bosses are usually fine, when I fought Ganon and he was using all of his mini goop boss weapons at the same time, no drops, but as soon as two Bokoblins or anything joins the fight, it drops. This is one thing I find to be kind of pathetic. It can load in the entire world, but can’t handle a battle?

Other than that, Breath of the Wild is amazing. The korok seeds are a little meh, they aren’t hard to find, but I guess there are over 700 of them or something? I don’t know, that’s just a thing I saw online. The shrines were pretty cool, but some are just ridiculous to find. I love the clothing though. Until the last boss, and during the certain areas where you need certain clothing to survive, I am probably always in the Sheikah stealth clothing. I upgraded it to the second level so I can move faster at night too. I would also suggest getting the Ancient armor set because it greatly helps with Hyrule Castle and kind of Ganon’s fight.

All in all, this is a really good game. I love it, played it for 2 weeks straight. I don’t know how I feel about the Master Sword, but that’s up for you guys to decide. There aren’t as many temples as Ocarina of Time or Wind Waker, but I think the story runs well with it. I loved Mipha and Urbosa, Daruk isn’t horrible, kind of just there, but I hate Revali. He was so jealous of you that he is just an asshole even in death. I think he was the only champion I didn’t like.

Get this game. If you have a Wii U, just get it for the Wii U, it’s not that much better on the Switch from what I’ve heard. I loved it, so hopefully so will you. Have fun!

The Magnum Opus: A Review

The Magnum Opus by Christine & Christopher Kezelos is a branching story based on their short stop-motion animated video The Maker. It’s on their Zealous Creative channel on Youtube, which has many other stop-motion animated videos as well. As soon as I found out they had written a novel based in the same world as their short video, I immediately bought it.

Don’t worry if you have never watched The Maker, although I would highly suggest doing that first, but the video is summarized within the first couple of chapters in the book. One thing I wish was in the book, that was in the video, is the showing of the music alphabet. The Makers are a race of magical beings that use music to bring other Makers to life, after making them, among other things. I think that was one of my favorite parts of the video was when you could see the translation of their music alphabet to ours. But I move along.

The story begins with the explanation of how the Maker cycle works. A Maker opens its eyes, the hour-glass turns, and a beautiful symphony blares to life inside the workshop. The music pushes the newly brought-to-life Maker to make a brand new Maker. When the Maker is finished building the next one, they must play the Maker song and bring the freshly made one to life. The book describes this so well, I recalled this scene from the video. After the first couple of chapters, we break into the new part of the plot. The Maker cycle is broke, and it is up to Ario to fix it.

The plot flows beautifully. I really like all of the characters. All of the main, and even the annoying Lorcaan, feel well fleshed out. One thing that I’m not a fan of is the name Lord Crone because generally the word crone is associated with an old woman who is ugly, or a witch, or something along those lines. Other than that, I really liked the characters. I liked how some characters were from different seasons, it was like each one was represented. They each worked together, and did well.

The setting of this was beautiful. The entire kingdom and surroundings were described in such detail that you can see it clearly in your mind. The time is set in Winter for the most part. I liked how the weather had an effect on the journey to find the Magnum Opus. Just the entire idea of the seasons and what the Makers do for them, is so cool. Read this book! Watch the video! This is really good, the plot is well thought out, the characters are fleshed out, and the setting is beautiful. Buy this book! It really is good.

Scythe: A Review

Scythe by Neal Schusterman is brilliant. The characters are flushed out. The settings feel real. And the pacing, the pacing is amazing. We begin with meeting the two main characters, Citra and Rowen, and how they react to meeting a Scythe. The title word is actually a profession in Neal Shusterman’s novel. To be a Scythe, is to carry the lives of all those you’ve taken. Technology and medicine have advanced to the point where people don’t die, if an accident happens, they are revived. Scythes “glean” people. That is the only way to die.

Through each of their unique encounters and reactions with the same Scythe, the are asked to join in the training to be one. To learn how to take life. They learn, and fight, but ulterior motives are at play as the plot moves along and we learn some pretty interesting info on the High Scythe. As Citra and Rowen train with Scythe Faraday, we learn about Scythe Curie, and Scythe Goddard. Honestly, I hate Scythe Goddard, and until part of the way through the book, I hated reading anything he was in. His character was so well written that I just felt sick whenever I read his parts.

I loved the setting, and the edition of an all-knowing AI that monitored every aspect of life except what the Scythes did. The AI kind of turned a blind eye unless the Scythes became too unruly. The founders of the Scythes put in a backdoor in their deal with the AI just in case something like Scythe Goddard became too out of control.

If you like Young Adult novels that are set in the future, read Scythe. It’s not a dystopian novel, it’s actually more like a utopian book with a conflict in a certain group of people. I love the idea that no one can die until someone is killed by a Scythe. I can’t wait for the next in the series, even though Scythe seemed to be a self-contained novel. I loved it!

The Deadly Tower of Monsters

Oh. My. God. Just finished playing The Deadly Tower of Monsters for the PS4 because it’s a free game from the PlayStation Plus free game of the month. It’s totally 70s styled, sci-fi movie with a director’s commentary on top of it all in the form of a game.

We take the helm as Dick Starspeed, you read that correctly, crash landing on the planet of Gravoria in your ship held up by strings. We begin with just a baton to fend for our lives from stop-motion animated dinosaurs. As you progress through the game, we meet Scarlet Nova, the daughter of the emperor of Gravoria, and Dick’s co-pilot Robot. Through these three characters, you will climb the deadly tower full of monsters, and find abilities and weapons to help with progressing passed monkeys, squids, acid spitting goo things, a giant gorilla, a mechanical chameleon with saws for hands, and a giant octopus.

Each of the weapons are unique, and as you upgrade them, shows a little of the thoughts that went into designing them. I personally loved the lightsaber, the sword, and the antenna. The director throughout will also talk about designing the sets, costumes, like why the Robot has two exhaust pipes I believe and humans need to releave themselves so just use your imagination, sound, and a very interesting twist at the end that I’ll leave for you to play.

I would also like to talk about the game design in itself. With the options menus, you can adjust the brightness of the screen, but also whether the screen acts like the old vhs with all the dirt spots and video breaks, or dvd which is into the digital age. I personally chose the vhs because it looked cool. In the sound, there is also a chance to change between vhs and dvd, but I couldn’t really tell the difference, even with headphones on.

Through fighting stop-motion dinosaurs, to free-falling through rings floating around the tower, The Deadly Tower of Monsters does not disappoint. If you love 50s-70s sci-fi movies, a little wonky fighting systems, and crazy creatures this game is the game for you. I personally loved it, especially the ending, just going to say they totally break the 4th wall, and I hope all of you who read this play the game. Right now it is free with PlayStation Plus until December 6th, on Steam for $15 for windows only, and anywhere else I have no idea. Even though the gameplay isn’t super long, the plot and everything else are worth it. I hope more games like this come out.

The Novice: Summoner; A Review

I just finished The Novice by Taran Matharu and I need the second book! I couldn’t put this one down. Other than the names, the wording was kind of simple, which is why I think they categorized it under Young Adult, but other than that, the plot was well layed out and I loved it. The characters are well planned out, well, main characters, the secondary ones you think are important at first and think, oh no, we have another Harry, Ron and Hermione on our hands, but then things change. We see Fletcher become friends with a dwarf and an elf and how their relationships actually shape the flow of the plot.

I love the relationship each character has with their demons. Fletcher and Ignatius work amazing together, feeding off each other’s emotions and the fluidity in their movements can only mean their relationship can only go higher from now on. It’s kind of cool how the summoner and the demon become one with their demon with they infuse. I really liked how that was portrayed. I hope to see Othello’s golem grow more; I want to see what he can do. I also think it was important to see Rory’s reaction when Malachite was hurt pretty badly. These demons aren’t just trinkets to pass around, they are an extension of the summoner.

With the ending of the first book, I can’t wait for the second. I love how the first one brought in a few plot points that will be hopefully played out in the second book, if not the third. The second book is called The Inquisition, which can mean any number of things considering the ending of the first. I’m not going to spoil it, but I can’t wait to find out! Even if the Young Adult genre turns you off, I think this is a well written medium between YA and fantasy. The plot and characters are interesting, and I can’t wait for everything to come to fruition. I highly recommend The Novice: Summoner by Taran Matharu.