Category: Reviews

Check here for the latest reviews from Wingspan.

Love, Simon Brings Representation to Hollywood

Words: Lien Hoang

After months of anticipation, the movie Love, Simon, based off the book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, finally released in March with a 92% approval rate from Rotten Tomatoes.

What makes this comedic teen story such a hit?

Love, Simon follows a confused and closeted gay teenager named Simon Spier, played by Nick Robinson, who appears to have a normal life in the eyes of others, but on the inside, he is struggling to find himself. With no one to talk to about his internal conflict, Simon exchanges emails with an anonymous character named “Blue,” who understands exactly what he is going through. As time passes, Simon falls in love with this mysterious individual, wanting to meet him.

The relatable movie focuses on the topics of identity, friends, and family. Love, Simon presents a rare subject that is almost never seen in Hollywood: homosexuality. Simon’s heartwarming coming-of-age journey is inspirational and appropriate for teens and their parents. It highlights the ideas of acceptance and being comfortable with who you are. Love, Simon is the first major studio film featuring the main character as being gay and the whole movie revolves around him and his coming out story. Being the first of its kind, Love, Simon gives representation to the LGBTQ+ community, a group that is almost never mentioned in the mainstream movie industry.

Besides having a unique concept, the movie also includes an amazing cast and a spectacular plot.

Simon’s story is exhilarating and the movie takes you on a ferris wheel of emotions. Hopefully, Love, Simon can start a new trend that sheds light on the LGBTQ+ group.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Centennial Theatre Department Takes the Stage With 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Words: Natalie Keane

During the weekend of March 23, the Centennial High School Theatre Department presented the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in Centennial’s auditorium.

The musical, packed with fast-paced wit and humor, follows six middle schoolers as they compete to become Putnam County’s next spelling bee champion. As they progress through each round, with each filled with words that sound suspiciously fake, they also come to address their own adolescent insecurities. While the mood of the show remains playful, some moments highlight more serious and heartfelt undertones of the students’ personal lives.

Speller Olive Ostrovsky wants nothing more than validation from her parents, who are too busy to attend the competition to watch her perform. Leaf Coneybear, clad in a bright red cape, is plagued with self-doubt. Despite the constant mockery he hears from his own family, he manages to develop some much-needed self confidence throughout the play.

Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre has two overbearing moms, who are likely more invested in her own victory in the competition than she is. William Barfee is burdened with a chronic sinus condition and a last name that often provokes mispronunciation. Marcy Park describes the struggles of being simply too good at everything, and Chip Tolentino, a boy scout and last year’s spelling bee champion, is forced to come to terms with his own eventual failure in this year’s bee.

To the surprise of many, the show included audience participation. Four members from the audience were invited to be “guest spellers” in the bee, and did their best to spell through the competition on stage alongside the actors and actresses, contributing even more to the humor of the show. Audience participation highlights the uniqueness of the production, because no two performances can be exactly the same.

The true relatability of every character makes the show all the more wonderful to watch. It becomes easy to cheer on the six misfits as they navigate their way through the competition and their own personal struggles.

Altogether, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,  featuring drastically different characters who light up the stage, truly highlights what makes each of us one of a kind. It teaches a much-needed lesson that little victories, even if not intended to be found, can sometimes be worth more than the ones for which we’re really looking.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Stranger Things Season Two Review

Words: Natalie Keane

As the end of October rolled around, season two of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things was released, giving its millions of fans a look at the new problems arising in the fictional small town of Hawkins, Indiana. The story of the second season is now set during Halloween of 1984, one year after the disappearance of Will Byers. We get to see the familiar adventure of Byers and his friends, as they are determined to uncover the supernatural element they believe to be underneath their town. Last season was simply an introduction to the Upside Down. Now, the characters are working to rescue Byers from an even bigger entity that threatens to change the course of all of their lives, while also trying their hardest to convince everyone else that there is a problem.

While new characters are introduced at the start, unlikely heroes are revealed as the season progresses. Old characters show development we never expected, and most everyone agrees that the new characters prove to make season two better than season one.

“I’d have to say my favorite part is the characters,” said Emily Hollwedel, a freshman at Centennial, who has been a fan of the show since season one, “when I watch the characters build relationships with each other, it helps develop their personalities and even change their view of their world for the better.”

The unusual cross of fantasy and horror mixed with 80s nostalgia is something that many people love most about the show, and there is no doubt that the familiar feeling of excitement and thrill in season one carries directly into season two. Stranger Things is a rare example of a show that takes the best qualities of classic 80s films, such as E.T, Aliens, Jurassic Park, and more, and combines them into one universe for old and young fans alike to enjoy.

“The mix of 80s nostalgia with the already fascinating plot is an easy pull for all sorts of people to enjoy the show,” Hollwedel said. “The [feeling] of childhood and a whole life ahead brings adults and kids together to enjoy a show that appeals to people of all ages.”

As Stranger Things’ sophomore season comes to a close, there is no indication that the characters we’ve come to love are disappearing any time soon. With their biggest trial yet to be faced, the show’s final two seasons have the potential to reveal even more secrets, and set the story up for its ultimate climax.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

The Great Indie Christmas Playlist

 

Words: Amanda Krew

If Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra just aren’t your cup of eggnog.

Dr.Dog- Oh My Christmas Tree

This EP, released just last year, is packed with Dr.Dog’s signature harmonies and low tech mastering. This album features jokey lyrics found in Christmas Party, quickly contrasted by the classic Christmas sentiment in Rejoice. If you need to escape the usual Deck the Halls and Jingle Bells, these new Christmas tunes should be topping your list.

The Last Bison- Sleigh Ride

This EP is an acoustic/folk spin on holiday classics like Sleigh Ride, Deck the Halls and Oh Holy Night. If you are perfectly content with Trans- Siberian Orchestra’s Carol of the Bells, stay away, but if you like witty banjo plucking over lulling cello bowing, gather ‘round.

Sufjan Stevens- Songs for Christmas

Sufjan (Suhf-yan) Stevens is notorious for releasing awesome Christmas albums, why not bundle them up into a 42 song super album? These lyrically heavy tunes are full of quirky instrumentals found in Come on! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance! and Get Behind Me, Santa!. Stevens also has innovative covers of the classics that don’t stray too far from the original if you need your fill of Little Drummer Boy and We Three Kings this season.

She & Him- A Very She & Him Christmas

You may know the lead singer of She & Him from New Girl or 500 Days of Summer, but you may not have known that her band released a Christmas album in 2011. Zooey Deschanel’s unmistakable rockabilly swing makes this holiday album an instant classic, covering songs like Sleigh Ride and a beautifully minimalistic I’ll Be Home for Christmas.  Just be careful playing this album at your family holiday party, they may just mistake Deschanel for Loretta Lynn!

Los Campesinos!- When Christmas Comes

If you want more rock ‘n roll than “rockin’ around the Christmas tree,” Los Campesinos!’s When Christmas Comes is the album for you. Los Campesinos! mixes electric guitar with the twinkling of jingle bells in their original song, Kindle a Flame In Her Heart.  In this EP of original songs, Los Campesinos! does manage to fit in an acoustic version of The Holly and the Ivy, a far throw from what you will find on the radio this season.

 

Music to Keep on Your Radar, Issue II

Words: Amanda Krew

St. Vincent by St. Vincent

Genre: indie/art pop

Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, delivers her fourth full length LP with what may be a creative peak for the singer/song writer/guitarist. Throughout this self-titled record, we are exposed to a variety of textured tracks ranging from guitar-saturated rock to synth-heavy dance tacks all tied together by Clark’s ethereal voice. The tracks on this album are defined not only by its intricate layers and loops, but also by its clever lyrics covering themes such as the impersonal connection of the digital age in the track “Digital Witness” and the death of youth in “Prince Johnny.”

Dunes by Gardens & Villa

Genre: electronic pop

Santa Barbra natives Gardens & Villa have branched out from the fogginess of their first album in their clean-cut, punchy sophomore LP, Dunes. The minimalist nature of this album creates a “no fuss, no muss” California feel without losing the engaging quality of the record. This album is packed with exciting features such as a flute beat paired with chunky synthesizers found in the track “Domino.” Looped background tracks found in song like “Echosassy” and “Avalanche” are starched to an almost mechanical drone smoothed over by dream-like, floaty vocals of singer Chris Lynch.

This Is All Yours by Alt-J

Genre: experimental rock

Alt-J’s second full length-record, though more easily digestible than their first, is far from conventional. The album spans the arrival and departure of the Japanese city, Nara, which possible alludes to the adventurous tracks found on this LP. Vocals on tracks “Intro” and “Nara” are used more as instruments than a lyrical device, creating what has been referred to as “indie a cappella”. Breaking out of the “indie bubble,” Alt-J has used a vocal sample from Miley Cyrus’s “4×4” in their track “Hunger of the Pine,” repeating and modulating the line “I’m a female rebel.”

A Dotted Line by Nickel Creek

Genre: bluegrass/folk

After a nine-year hiatus, Nickel Creek is back with their sixth studio album. Organic vocals and tinny guitar riffs float through this album as it spans the well-rounded track list. Sara Watkins shows her vocal versatility though rich harmonies found in the track “Where is Love Now” and powerful wails found in “Destination.” Past the vocal tracks, this album also features beautiful bluegrass instrumental songs such as fiddle-heavy “Elsie” and the intricate guitar tune “Elephant in the Corn.”

Nickel Creek shows their versatility and musicianship in this album, making them so much more than just a bluegrass band.

Urinetown Production Filled with Triple Threats

Words: Amanda Krew

This weekend, the stage lights illuminated a Centennial Theatre production in direct contrast with shows we have seen on their stage before. Urinetown is a politically laced, satirical musical, making it a very taboo subject matter for a musical, but under the direction of Ms. Carlson, the production was executed tastefully.

I cannot stress enough how fantastically this show was cast. Miguel Fernandez, playing Bobby Strong, perfectly conveyed humor that, without the proper emphasis, would have been lost in the quick dialogue, and Niall Musonda, playing Mr. Cladwell, could not have created this sinister boss more perfectly. This cast truly showed versatility balancing amazing vocals from Skyler Betz (Little Becky Two-Shoes), Anne Marie Demme (Little Sally), Siena Demes (Hope Cladwell), and Montria Walker (Pennywise) with intricate choreography in the variety of musical genres.

The only critique I could give would be that there was no warning before the end of intermission, causing some unlucky audience members to miss one of the show stopping musical numbers. Despite this minor quirk, the production went on without a hitch, thanks to the skilled stagehands and sound team. I hope you did not miss the four performances of Urinetown; it proved to be one of the most unique shows to hit Centennial’s stage, although it did not exactly have a happy ending!

Upcoming Concerts 10/14/14

Words: Amanda Krew

 

Minus the Bear @ Rock & Roll Hotel 10/19

Genre-Indie rock

If you like- Panic at the Disco, Circa Survive, Modest Mouse

Seattle based indie rock band, Minus the Bear, will be returning to Washington D.C. accompanying the release of their eighth studio album, Lost Loves.  Minus the Bear is a rock band that incorporates subtle electronic beats behind traditional bass, drums, and guitar.  If you need some good old fashion guitar shredding with a bit of a new age twist, be at Rock & Roll Hotel on the 19th.

 

Knox Hamilton @ U Street Music Hall 10/21

Genre- Indie pop/rock

If you like- Imagine Dragons, Foster the People, Matt & Kim

You may know Knox Hamilton by their catchy pop single Work It Out off his EP, The Great Hall, released in late 2013. Quickly gaining popularity, the Arkansas natives recently performed at Austin City Limits and will be playing at 30+ venues across the country. Knox Hamilton delivers a refreshing pop sound that defies the top 50 lists, a must see on the 21st.

 

Cold War Kids @ 930 Club 10/24

Genre- Indie rock

If you like- Cage the Elephant, Band of Skulls, Kings of Leon

Fans are eagerly awaiting Cold War Kids’ new album, Hold My Home, coming out October 21st under Downtown Records. The Long Beach natives are known for their high-energy rock sound with a twist of California chill vocals by singer Nathan Willett. The long awaited new album will be released three days before this 930 Club concert, ensuring a very eager to please Cold War Kids.

 

Sharon Van Etten @ Ottobar 10/25

Genre- Folk/pop/rock

If you like- Karen O, Regina Spektor, Fleetwood Mac

Sharon Van Etten’s fourth studio album, Are We There, may be her most passionate in terms of story telling. Sharon’s lo-fi sound creates a beautifully intimate setting out of the largest venue. The mix of ethereal vocals at the forefront of the tracks on this album with the hard-hitting instrumentals make for an engaging and intense track list. Be sure to catch Sharon’s last US show before she leaves for the Netherlands on November 15th

 

Temples @ 930 Club 10/28

Genre- Psych Rock

If you like- The Beatles (circa Revolver), Tame Impala, The Who

60s inspired rock band Temples is as close to The Who, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones as you can get in this day and age. The England native foursome is a travel back in time from their sound to their 60s psychedelic apparel. Temples delivers swinging vocals over washy psychedelic guitars, straight off of the Beatles’ Rubber Soul. Their new album, Sun Structures, has taken them to the US for the first half of this tour.  Catch them at 930 Club before they take the tour back to Europe.