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The Wallis is pleased to offer an opportunity for youth ages 12-18 to become a Student Arts Reporter. This program is designed for students interested in the arts and journalism or critical writing. The reviews below were written by members of The Wallis Student Reporters.  For more information about the program please contact Debra Pasquerette at dpasquerette@thewallis.org.



Thebes 
Chloe Clark 
 
Thebes was a captivating play performed by many talented young actors. The performers expressed raw emotion, emphasizing conflict, pain, sorrow, and more. The play recreated the story of Oedipus, so without any prior knowledge to the Greek myth, it may be difficult to follow and know which character is who during throughout the play. The overall stage set was simple, there were five trees in the background and the only props used were two large bowls filled with water and sand. These two elements can represent different themes of the play; water symbolized the renewal and purification the characters may seek, and the sand represented the passing of time and destruction of fate. The characters wore all white and, at times, chanted their dialogue in unison. This highlighted power and purity, especially at the end of the play when the characters lined up and spoke as one singularity. The characters came out into the audience which added more interaction and tension, for the audience felt as though they were in the midst of the play as well. The play touches on the fall of fate and how strength lies in people in order to overcome injustice. The characters attempted to maintain power and Antigone was the literal representation of any hope that remained; it was that hope which inspired the rest of the citizens to stand up against the government ruler, Creon. 
 


Battlefield 
by Emma Erenmark
 
The play Battlefield, based on The Mahabharata, an ancient Indian epic, and the play written by Jean-Claude Carriere, is a 70-minute journey into a society just torn apart by war in ancient India, and how difficult it is to lose people you love in battle.  
The play is simple in some respects.  The show is quiet, there are only four actors, the actors walk barefoot, and there is little set.  What is more complex is the dialogue.  The four actors discuss many deeply philosophical issues that we still struggle with today, thousands of years after The Mahabharata was written.  They discuss the point of war, and how the former King Dritarashtra can live on after many of his sons were killed and he is forced to step down from power.  
Throughout the play, the actors take on different roles as they tell different stories.  They mention traditional Hindu beliefs, such as reincarnation.  There is one scene where the actors proceed to tell a story about a worm who wanted to cross a busy street without getting killed.  Another actor asks the worm why it wants to stay alive, and the worm says he can change his own destiny by struggling to stay alive against all odds.  In the end, the worm ends up getting run over.  This shows how important destiny is to the writers of The Mahabharata; that no matter how hard one tries, one can never change destiny.
Overall, the play was hard to follow if one is not familiar with ancient teachings of Hinduism.  Yet the actors teach so much in the span of 70 minutes.  The actors had so much emotion and meaning to their dialogue.  Even the lone drummer watching from center stage has emotion and partakes in the plot.
This show is quiet, philosophical, monkish, interesting, and has bigger themes that take a while to sink in.  While it may not be the best show for children, the play is incredibly entertaining and definitely a learning experience for the audience.  Often people in America have little knowledge of important religious texts from other countries, so it was very interesting to learn stories told by ancient people around the world.
 

The Encounter
By Emma M. Taylor
 
“The Encounter,” is a work of theatre unlike any I’ve ever experienced. Performed by Simon McBurney, this one-man show is more than a drama, but a masterpiece of technical theater. The story tells of a National Geographic photojournalist’s journey into the Amazon basin in his hunt for the Moabi people, but works on three different time planes. His excursion takes him to extremes in the Amazon jungle, pushing him to his physical psychological limit all for the sake of adventure. But behind the story is a genius technical crew who make it possible for you to go along for the ride with him. Each member in the audience is provided a set of headphones to wear for the duration of the performance. Not only is it an ingenious way for everyone to hear the show in the same way, no matter the speaker placement or your seat in the theater, but it makes the performance so much more personal and intimate. The headphones give one the feeling that the narrator and the voices he hears are inside your head, fundamentally making the viewer one with the story. Beyond the fantastic and ingenious sound design, the lighting design contributes to the surreal nature of the show. The lights turn a simple, basic set of microphones on stands, a textured background and lightly “decorated” table, into a real jungle, with danger lurking around every corner. Thanks to this innovative staging, “The Encounter” pushes the viewer to experience a haunting and exciting voyage of life on the edge—but for a manageable two hours. 
 
 
Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures
Frederick Minser
Matthew Bourne celebrates his company’s 30th anniversary showing off some of the performances that first started his career. The show consisted of five acts with two intermissions and a pause. The nine amazing dancers brilliantly performed each section. In the first dance they depict a school with the dancers dressed in uniforms. They then go through a large city and a farmland ending with a fun play on French films. Each act had its own set design with very specific costumes as well as new compelling stories. The audience views the dancers as they go through dramatic moments of a break up to a comedic play of folk dance. At times it was hard to focus on one specific dancer because they would have nine people out at a time. This may have caused some confusion for people invested in the plot of each tale. There was continually a distinct disconnect from the transitions from comedic to dramatic making long serious pieces seem unending to the light fun ones. Sometimes people couldn't tell whether a piece was comedic or not so they would laugh at something that should have felt deeper. The dances themselves are quite incredible with many clever plays on real life, such as taking a shower or using the restroom. Overall the show was a fantastic success that left the audience wanting more.
 
 
Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures
Frederick Minser
Matthew Bourne celebrates his company’s 30th anniversary showing off some of the performances that first started his career. The show consisted of five acts with two intermissions and a pause. The nine amazing dancers brilliantly performed each section. In the first dance they depict a school with the dancers dressed in uniforms. They then go through a large city and a farmland ending with a fun play on French films. Each act had its own set design with very specific costumes as well as new compelling stories. The audience views the dancers as they go through dramatic moments of a break up to a comedic play of folk dance. At times it was hard to focus on one specific dancer because they would have nine people out at a time. This may have caused some confusion for people invested in the plot of each tale. There was continually a distinct disconnect from the transitions from comedic to dramatic making long serious pieces seem unending to the light fun ones. Sometimes people couldn't tell whether a piece was comedic or not so they would laugh at something that should have felt deeper. The dances themselves are quite incredible with many clever plays on real life, such as taking a shower or using the restroom. Overall the show was a fantastic success that left the audience wanting more.
 

The Encounter
By Fred Minser
 
The Encounter has three different yet connected stories going on at the same time. The first is the moment in which you are experiencing the show, the second is the layer of Simon McBurney telling his daughter a bedtime story, and the third is of the traveler stranded with a native tribe in the Amazon where he deals with overcoming materialism and time. The fantastic performance by Simon McBurney captivates the viewer through the sensation of sound. The entire audience is given headphones to experience the show. The use of sound is what engages the viewer and creates the world as no set is present. It also (as Simon McBurney stated) better connects him to the audience. The story is beautifully touching as you live through three different timelines with likable characters all portrayed by McBurney. Though switching through different times sometimes can confuse people the underlying message of consumerism and materialism taking over society leaves the materialistic world we live in up to question.
 
 
 
A Call on the People’s Duty
 
The Hero Within
 
By: Liza Freiberg
 
While society romanticizes war through video games like Call of Duty, it leaves out the psychological hardships faced by people who answer the call of duty. The Wallis Annenberg Center of Performing Arts depicted these hardships through a play directed by Greg Shane, co-founder of CRE Outreach’s Veterans Empowerment Theater (VET) program. This play is not your typical take on theater; most of the actors, Los Angeles veterans appearing as themselves, had little to no performing experience. Still, the performers brought to the stage their detailed accounts from their service in the U.S. military, and were successful in achieving their goal – raising awareness for the inability to combat post-traumatic stress disorder, racial discrimination, and sexual harassment.
 
The only thing worse than suffering one of the aforementioned challenges is dealing with two – that is the fate that veteran Judith Welch faced. A female in a male-dominant institution, Welch often clashed with her superiors. Even after she finished serving the military, Welch grappled with the sexist tendencies of society, which culminated into her battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Though our actions may seem harmless, there is no way of predicting their psychological affects on people – a central theme of the play. 
 
An army is meant to reflect the strength of a nation, but it can also function as a front for the contentions that weaken a society. Jonaton Wyne recounted his life as a black veteran during the Vietnam War, an anticommunist military venture concurrent with the Civil Rights Movement. At home tensions among races surfaced on the battlefield, as black servicemen typically carried out the menial tasks. Even more intriguing was Wyne’s reenactment of an encounter he had with a fellow officer - played by Harold Boons - who did not approve of Wyne’s display of the Confederate flag on his office desk, signifying that enfranchisement does not ensure social equality.
 
After ninety-minutes of moving disclosure, Shane and the cast members sat down with the audience to debrief about the making of the show and its underlying messages. One of the audience members asked Shane how he wrote the play. Shane replied that he sat down with the veterans, listened to each of their stories, and found that no one experience held more weight than another, which is why he chose to feature all eight stories to embrace the hero within each veteran. The cast members also voiced their concerns about the ongoing discrimination and psychological trauma rampant in the military, hoping that their performance will incite reforms to safeguard servicemen and servicewomen alike.
 
 
Santa Cecilia Orchestra
By Frederick Minser
Santa Cecilia Orchestra draws in unique yet traditional music from the great classical composers. The four musicians Huan Zhao, Nunez-Mejia, Circe Diaz, and Arthur Omura made the audience smile with delight as they played many classical songs such as the Blue Danube and Oblivion. When they first walked out they professionally addressed the audience and gave a short introduction as to what they would be performing. Huan Zhao (violinist) said they would be taking us through different eras of dance music, and they did just that. They expressed earlier on that they would improvise parts of each piece as they have multiple versions memorized. The chemistry of knowing these improvisations was astounding to watch and hear.
 

Twelfth Night
By Anna Polin
 
This performance was a modern twist on Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.  The story portrays a woman who previously experienced a shipwreck and believes her twin brother, Sebastion, has died.  She later dresses up as a man to be able to work for the captain who saved her life. This production includes several very comical touches that make it a bit easier for younger audiences to understand. What this performance lacks is focus on the real point of the story which is the romance. This story was a comedy but romance was a key part which unfortunately was not highlighted in the performance.  Another problem in the show was the lack in costumes. I feel that for such a strong show there should have been better costumes. It was difficult to tell the characters apart. All in all, I enjoyed the performance but there was definitely room for improvement. 
 

The Encounter
by Chole Clark
 
The Encounter, was unique and captivating because it truly put the audience in the mindset of the character, Loren McIntyre, played by Simon McBurney. The Encounter depicts a true story of  Loren McIntyre’s experience in Brazil as a National Geographic photographer. Although McIntyre traveled to Brazil for work, he uncovered much more. As he came in contact with a tribe, got lost in a rainforest, and even had his camera broken, McIntyre became exposed to a not-so-modern way of life that he had been used to from his home in London. The play was told through both first and third person narrative. Headphones were a unique aspect that enhanced the audience experience by adding precise sound effects and overlapping dialogue. The headphones made it seem as if you were actually in the setting; running through the jungle, surrounded by the tribe, or dancing in the rain. Although it was confusing at first, the additional dialogue placed the story into perspective and allowed the audience to understand the thoughts McIntyre was processing. The actor himself expressed raw emotions of distress, confusion, and anger through both body language and dialogue. Because there were minimal props, the audience was able to form their own mental images just from what McIntyre was describing. The animated background was also compelling; it added visual effects that represented camouflaged jungle leaves or the harsh rainfall. The minimal lighting was dark and dense which added to the atmosphere of the story. It created a sense of being lost, just as McIntyre was in the Amazon rainforest. McIntyre’s thoughts shifted from those of a civilized man with coherent thoughts, to a man who had adapted animalistic behavior due to his experience in the savage environment. By the end of the play, you may feel overwhelmed due to the rushing audio of thoughts while watching McIntyre run across stage, only to detect that savagery and civilization are not as far apart as they may seem. 

The Encounter Review
By Maegan Fellner
 
The Encounter is a beautifully written, exquisitely performed one-man play.  It tells the tale of a photographer from National Geographic who gets lost in the forest.  But there is a nearby tribe who keeps him alive - just barely.
 
There was only one person on the stage, but when I closed my eyes, it felt like there were many.  A clever use of microphones that funneled sound into headphones given to each playgoer made the performance feel very intimate.  Also, the little use of prerecorded sounds made each performance special and unique.  For example, cassette tape ribbon was used as the grabbing of bushes, and the actor's own body was used to make rain sounds.  Along with this, good synchronization of sound effects, from a technical perspective, really made the play smooth.  
 
Simon McBurney, the one and only actor, was not only excellent, but relatable, too.  His talent was obviously shown in the many times when he spontaneously switched characters, or conveyed feelings clearly and genuinely.  I would mention that there was some cursing, but in an emotional, versus derogatory way.  Overall, if the acting is not good, it can ruin the play.  When the acting is excellent, as it was here, it only enriches the play more.
 
The minimal use of backdrops was effective and not distracting.  The occasional use of lighting, more to indicate some part of the scene than to highlight the actor, was fairly good, and seemed well thought through.
 
The play was a delicious mix of sound effects, light, and most importantly, great acting.  The hints of comedy thrown in were refreshing, and when I stepped out of the theater, I felt a bit tired, and had a lot to think about.
 
I would recommend this performance to anyone 13 and older, who is mature and can handle mildly loud sound effects.  I really enjoyed this tale of hope, tragedy, loss, and a bit of magic.
 

946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
By Noelle Trost
 
946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips follows the story of 12 year old girl, Lily, during World War II in the seaside village of Slapton where life is bliss, barely touched by the war, until American troops occupy the small town to practice D-Day landings. Told through a series of energetic songs and imaginative scenes only a bright 12 year old girl could possibly be capable of visualizing, 946 is must see for anyone. Whether you’re a history buff, enjoy high quality performances, or are looking for something to fill in your Friday evening, 946 is a delight for anyone. As much should be expected from the wildly talented group, Kneehigh, a Cornwall based theatre company that has been performing and perfecting the art of storytelling for over 30 years. Their incredible performing abilities are only matched by the magnificent production value of their presentation of 946.
 
The charm of 946 comes from myriad of unique characters, fourth wall breaks, and the storytelling of a deeply emotional story of devastating war from the perspective of the quirky 12-year-old Lily. Every character is well developed; from Lily herself, to her teacher, Madame Bounine, to the American soldiers that occupy the small town, Harry and Adi, to even the self-reliant cat, Tips. No character is left void of personal touch and viewpoint. Another delightful peculiarity of the show was the constant fourth wall breaks. Lily regularly converses and jokes with the jazz band playing in the background of the show and, at points, even confronts the audience. Little oddities like these add to the uniqueness of the overall production, making it a show of its own kind. However, despite these humorous variations, its core story is one of loss and tragedy; the director, Emma Rice, successfully captures these deeply complex emotions all while maintaining the show’s upbeat atmosphere. One can only imagine the difficulty that the casting crew had to deal with in order to find performers not only capable of spectacular dancing and singing, but also an ability to connect with the piece personally from their character’s perspective. 
 
As mentioned earlier, the cast’s stellar performance is only matched by the crew’s impressive ability. Upon walking into the theater, one is met with a row of bathtubs in front of double level stage, where on the top the jazz band is playing, and below people are sweeping away, begging one to question, “What exactly am I about to witness?” An impressive quality of the production was the way the crew utilized the entire space, guiding the audience’s eyes through lighting and choreography that showed off the breathtaking sets created for 946. At one point, when demonstrating the catastrophe of a naval battle, the cast used the bathtubs and toy ships to indicate the ships’ movements, a creative way of storytelling that maintained the lighthearted childish vibe of the show. Another such instance of this creativity was with the character, Tips, which was played by a puppet. Other characters were played by puppets, such as Lily’s grandson and his dog. Quirks like this signified the production’s attention to detail, a characteristic that made the performance distinct. Taking everything into account, with a combined splendor in terms of performance and production, one can’t help but fall in love with the must-see 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips.
 


Ralph Kirshbaum & Shai Wosner: Beethoven
by Chloe Clark
 
The musical performance, Beethoven, performed by Ralph Kirshbaum and Shai Wosner was compelling and soothing. The performance truly highlighted the evolution of Beethoven's music and style through the years; the development shown through the different songs. For instance, in Op. 5, one of Beethoven's early sonatas, the music was more florid. In contrast, the sonatas towards the end of Beethoven’s career, such as Op. 102, were slow moving and dense. Later sonatas displayed each note’s meaning; the sounds were elemental and abstract. It was interesting to hear the evolution of Beethoven’s music over the hour and 45 minutes. Although there were musical improvements through the years, there are still areas that Beethoven kept constant. For example, there were similar balances between both cello and piano along with persistent rhythms and a dramatic quality. The piano and cello complemented each other nicely through melody and volume due to crescendos or emphasized accents. Some of the pieces were played differently through various tempos of andante and adagio, contrasting from slow to brisk. Overall, the musical performance was ravishing, filled with layers of rhythms, harmonies, and emotion. 
 


Twelfth Night
By Mei Higashi
 
“Twelfth Night” is a delightfully pleasing show that reveals a modern twist on the classic Shakespearean play. It focuses on the story of two twins named Viola and Sebastian who have been separated from a violent sea storm. The female twin, Viola, dresses as a man and therefore must woo the Countess Olivia for Duke Orsino, whom Viola herself loves. After meeting Viola, disguised as a young man named “Cesario”, Countess Olivia falls in love with her, thinking she is a man. Sebastian then finds his way to Ilyria, and Viola abandons her disguise to embrace her long-lost brother. The wildly humorous story as to how the characters are solving their problems with each other in Ilyria is enjoyably amusing.
 
Amazingly, the actors found a way to incorporate the audience members in the play. Some characters even ended up sitting in the audience and yelling their lines from where they were seated, using others’ volunteered coats and hats, and even throwing out large puff balls to pass around, throw, and parade around with! The entire interaction in the play was extremely surprising and you could see from the audience’s response the joy and happiness was already very infectious by the middle of the play.
 
Often times when going to a fancy theatre performance, you expect to see something completely perfected and clean-cut, but instead, here you will actually see more simplicity and less intimidation. You are able to witness the magic of raw scenes and footage with a real play, real actors, and even real mistakes. There is no extreme makeup, costume, or even an elaborate set - nothing too extravagant, yet nothing less of respectable, which makes it even more captivating.
 
Overall, the play has a unique and organic concept with a wild feeling. It was an alluring play that displayed a unique way of telling an ordinary, vintage story. After viewing this play, the classic tale of “Twelfth Night” does not seem to compare to the enchanting and fantastic live version. The “Filter Theater & Royal Shakespeare Company” had a special way of transforming the play into something new and fantastic, but yet still using the original idea of “Twelfth Night” by Shakespeare. 
 
Limón Dance Company
By: Julia Maisel-Berick
Elegant and strong are two words that come to mind while watching the Limón Dance Company’s performance. The skillful dancers were strong enough not to rely on each other for support, but did so to convey the beauty of their dances. 
The show, which consisted of five dances, was full of emotion presented through lighting, movements, and music. For the first dances, a large screen in the back shifted colors as the mood changed; a blue as the dancers happily bounded across the stage to a dramatic purple as their movements slowed down and then to a bright teal. The solo piece was lit in red, reflecting a performance so powerful it left the audience silent to the point that even those in the back row could hear the dancer’s steps and breaths. One thing that was extremely clear was how synchronized the performers were. Only a single collective sound was audible as multiple dancers came down from leaps or jumps at the same time. Even when only one person inhabited the stage, you didn’t notice the emptiness because your eyes were drawn to their beautiful movements.
The second half of the show featured two dances that dealt with relationships in different contexts and styles. The first was an Othello-inspired dance with balletic movements, which were more classical than the preceding selections. This dance of love, death and deception was centered around the play’s four main characters. The final dance was a group piece with war-like themes that contained duets and smaller groups as the company members entered and left the stage. No matter the genre, subject matter, or mood, all five performances were immensely enjoyed by the audience evident by the enthusiastic applause that each dance received.
 
 

Twelfth Night
By Frederick Minser
 
I was familiar with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night because I had seen a production before. When entering the theater for this production I was perplexed to see a band set up instead of a traditional theatrical set. The show was extremely entertaining as they used musical instruments to progress the plot. The actors were all dressed in modern or black clothing except for one individual, Toby (played by Oliver Dimsdale). His Elizabethan style costume set him apart from the rest of the cast intriguing audience members to delve deeper into the reason the other cast members were in modern clothing. 
The most exciting parts of this production were when they included audience members. They invited people to dance on stage with them and brought pizza for the kids. The only issue I had with this production was I felt they seemed to lose the story by flooding the original text with political jokes and musical breaks. All in all it was a very fun show to watch.
 
946: The Amazing Adventure of Adolphus Tips
Julia Maisel-Berick
 
The seemingly endless blue sky and green fields painted on panels in the set of 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips seem to foreshadow the comedic and playful aspects of the musical. Metal tubs of assorted shapes and sizes line the front of the stage which are first used for something as benign as washing clothes but later convey a bloody war scene, reflecting the darker themes of the show. Center stage, on a raised platform, sits a band that rolls into the show with a slow melodic rendition of John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” (much like nose of the plane protruding from the bottom of the platform) and then the rock n’ roll tune “Born to Be Wild”. While both of songs came out at the tail end of the sixties, a majority of this show takes place during World War II, following the story of a young girl in a small town in England. Despite its funny dance numbers and humorous script, the show also deals with violence, loss, racism, and the toll war takes on people.
As the audience takes their seats, men and women dressed in beige jumpsuits sweep the stage and interact with the onlookers. Little do you know these people will turn out to be the actors of the show, whose plain jumpsuits act as a blank canvas as they shift between characters, morphing from pants into army uniforms. The actors are extremely versatile, switching from acting to puppeteering, singing to sometimes even climbing up to the platform to play instruments. 
There are several different story lines in the production that are being learned about by a boy from his grandmother’s diary.  There is a young girl constantly searching for her lost cat, Tips. She and the people in her town are ripped from their homes for the sake of the war, yet find comfort in their friendship with two African American soldiers. The many different elements of this show fit together like puzzle pieces even though it is difficult to imagine how they will ever intertwine in the beginning of the play.

946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
By Frederick Roman Minser
The Wallis does it again with another fantastic performance! With a spectacular set, music, and acting, this show will leave you in awe. It opens with a young man visiting his Grandma. When she gives him her diary he relieves her childhood through World War 2. The stage is exquisite, using tubs as the ocean where pyrotechnics go off. There are realistic looking puppets that give the show a happy vibe and a tractor and airplane on stage. The background is also painted a beautiful blue tinge that at night lights up with glittering stars. Katy Owen who plays lily Tregenza somehow manages to play a 13 year old girl perfectly without going over the top or being stereotypical. Though this story is mostly fun, it also has a darker side about war that really gives the characters emotional depth. This show is about friendship, love, and most important, family.

946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
By Anna Polin
This musical is a spectacular reenactment of what life was like during World War 2 with a comical touch.  The story begins in the future when Lily Tregenza is a grandmother now and has a grandson named Boowie.  With the sudden death of Lily’s husband she leaves Boowie to go on an adventure leaving him her diary telling him to read it and to not skip to the end.  The diary includes entries on her childhood during the years of World War II with her beloved cat Tips in her lovely seaside farm.  The war has barely affected her and her family except for the fact that her father who was serving in the army against the Nazis, and that many evacuees from around the world have been joining her school. The war begins affecting her and her family as they get the news that all the people in their village must leave because the Americans need to practice landing near water and so begins the story.  Lily’s grandfather refuses to leave.  Everyone tries to persuade him but he refuses until Lily’s French Jewish teacher who had escaped with her late husband, explains to him that moving is going to help them win the war. She explains that in order for the war to be won everybody must contribute, including him.  The wise teacher tells him that her husband died serving in the war which brings her to tell him that people are sacrificing their lives to win the war.  The teacher tries to tell him that millions of people black, white, Jews, Christians everybody is trying to stop the Nazis.  Lily’s grandfather gives up and agrees to come along but still doesn’t truly understand how much these brave Americans are really helping until he meets some. 
Lily loses Tips her cat after they move and she returns to their old house in hopes to find her. Instead finds two American soldiers Adie and Harry.  They quickly become friends. Lily invites them to come home and meet her family.  The two soldiers come and tell their stories of how hard working and dangerous lives are and within the moment Adie’s story ends Lily’s grandfather immediately feels bad and sees how selfish he was to not want to move. This performance explains and shows how traumatizing war is and shows how people all over the world and of all different backgrounds were willing to sacrifice their lives to help one another. The performance includes many true facts but adds a hint of comedy for those younger who are watching.  One interesting touch to this performance is their use of puppetry including Lily’s beloved cat Tips.  I would recommend this show to children over the age of 7.  All in all it was a great show and I would definitely recommend it.
 


946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
by Chloe Clark
 
The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips was a captivating, thrilling adventure that highlighted the theme of friendships while portraying the different aspects of war.  
The set was very creative and open, which drew the audience in even more. The lowest level was covered with buckets of water and the planks on the main stage led to a higher platform where the live band played. The changing colors of the stage illustrated, not only shifts from day to night, but also changes in the atmosphere from lighthearted to tense. Other lighting on the stage involved strobe lights which added to the effect of harsh, loud music to emphasize chaos. The costumes in which the characters wore depicted their status and class well. For example, Lily and her family wore rural clothes because they lived on a farm, while other characters like Adie and Harry, wore uniforms because of their positions as soldiers in the war. The change in time period was easily differentiated due to the grandson and grandma’s more up-to-date clothing. The props used were utilized very creatively as well. There were red streamers that flew to the stage to represent blood, and tiny fires in the buckets of water to create an intense battle scene. Brooms and desks were also used while dancing. While the actors danced, they were lively and very animated with their movements and facial expressions. Along with typical props, it was very interesting and comical to see how other props and characters were symbolized through marionettes. Animals like cats, chickens, and mice were miniature puppets which came to life with the slinky movements and sound effects. Michael and Lily both had miniature marionettes that replicated their movements in certain parts of the play.
 Katy Owen, who played Lily, was very expressive and she displayed many meaningful emotions from happiness to sorrow and pain. She did an excellent job playing a 12 year old girl; it was realistic because she was immature and energetic. Other characters, such as Adie expressed great emotion as well especially when Harry died. Pain was detected in Adie’s voice and body. The songs reemphasized much of the plot. For example, one of the song’s lyrics included “what do you think you’re fighting for” as the actors flashed photographs of soldiers in the war. When the actors performed “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, this scene created a hopeful mood and was powerful especially when involving the audience to sing along. The majority of the vocals were sung in duets or from the whole cast. Many of the actors were part of acting, singing, and dancing. The play was unique in that the story was told through the perspective of Boowie’s grandma when she was 12. Through Lily’s experience, the audience goes along with her and is able to see her evolve as a character especially from seeing it in the perspective of a 12 year old and back as an older woman. She becomes a dynamic character who originally is enamored with her cat, but realizes towards the end, that there is much more to worry about than just her lost cat, as she is surrounded by the brutal effects of World War II. The audience is able to see not only the violent aspects of the war, but the emotional toll it takes on those like Adi, Lily, her family, and the other evacuees. Through strong bonds that Lily creates throughout the story and by befriending an evacuee and two soldiers, those relationships directly affect Lily in the way she views the war.
The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips was touching and thrilling; it truly captured “supreme”, the phrase Lily Tregenza exclaimed through the play.


Word of Mouth: by The Wallis Youth Theatre Company
By Veronica McFarlane
Word of Mouth at the Wallis Theatre is an eye-opening experience for everyone who sees it. It’s a show created by the actor’s themselves (ranging from 17-23 years old) that reflects the good and the bad of humanity itself, and more specifically, how our words affect each other. The words chosen in this play have been selected from different speeches, books and poems using messages like racism, sexism, homophobia and pure hatred. These writings remind us that the creative ideas that we have and hold really do make an impact and will not be silenced. The show opens with the stage set as a clean slate. The actors use only wooden boxes as seats and props and costume design is uniformly grey tones, showing us that it’s not a certain look that is important in this performance, it’s the creative storytelling through movement and what is being spoken. 
The development of characters throughout the play is evident. In the beginning, almost everyone is ignorant, in a trance of one evil character that wears a mask. They all follow him – the ‘Trickster’. After every scene each person stops to think about their lives and other people’s lives around them. Little by little they would slowly stop following the hatred. They all come together in the end to remember that they are all humans, each with their own lives and they ignore the man with the mask completely. The man with the mask was a very interesting and bold character. Played by Alex Sheldon, the Trickster represents the power that people have in their words and how they abuse it by using their power to manipulate others. The red and evil looking mask, which was actually made by Sheldon, is a symbol of how we all present a different ‘self’ to the world which eventually either falls away or becomes embraced.
One thing that is prominent throughout the show is the choreography. Everything that is being said is represented in some kind of dance that shows the feelings and mood that the speech is trying to portray. This brings it to a visual level, which breaks down each speech. The strong rhythmic arm and leg movement gave a consistent feeling of struggle through each piece and eventually tied the characters together in a resolute decision to turn from the Trickster.  Another interesting visual was the light bulbs over the each person on the set. You would see the light bulbs flicker or turn off and on, also representing the mood and character development.
After the show, there was a question & answer session with the actors, director and assistant director where the audience asked questions about the production. They were asked what they think the theme of this show was and almost unanimously answered: the power of language. Some also said that the theme was acknowledging that there is fear and hatred in the world, but we should all just stand together to create peace and love instead. 
This performance really made me think about everything in our world; violence and peace, fear and love, hatred and respect. It has started conversations with my friends and family and has made me think about the power of my words and ideas in my everyday life.
 

Dan Zanes and Friends 
By Chloe Clark 
 
Dan Zanes and Friends was an upbeat, interactive musical performance. The main genre of songs played were country and folk music. The performance was geared toward younger children to enjoy. The musicians encouraged the kids and parents to get up from their seats and dance in the front, sing along, and use hand gestures. For example, the musicians taught a little bit of American Sign Language for the audience to use throughout one song. The performance overall was diverse in a sense that they performed songs in various languages including Spanish, English, and Korean. It was warming to see everyone dancing, having a good time, and truly “having a party” as Dan Zanes exclaimed to the audience, not just a typical musical performance. I enjoyed the lively, engaging atmosphere created by the musicians and I would recommend for small children. 
 

Jacob Jonas The Company
By Maegan Fellner   
 
Jacob Jonas The Company's unique style is a blend of ballet, break dance, and contemporary and that combination was the first thing that drew me in.  Then, I realized just how talented the performers were.
 
I could see the amazing coordination and trust that each dancer had in one another.  It felt as though each dancer had their own presence.  This added to the performance greatly, as I could appreciate each dancer even more.
 
I particularly enjoyed In A Room on Broad St., because of the ingenious use of props.  I also thought the second work, f l y, was interesting, partly because of the challenging moves and partly because of the symbolic relationship between the two dancers.  On the flip side, my least favorite piece was Grey.  It lacked interest, and this was due to the repetitiveness of the song and actions.
 
The changes in lighting, as subtle as they were, made a surprising difference in the mood of each scene.  The music was an integral part of the show, and everything was perfectly synchronized to it.
 
As this young company grows together and becomes more polished, I think that Jacob Jonas The Company has a bright future ahead, and look forward to seeing more from them.
 
 
JACK Quartet
By Maegan Fellner
 
The JACK Quartet, comprised of members Christopher Otto, Austin Wulliman, John Pickford Richards and Jay Campbell, is a clearly talented group. Each member showed extreme focus and a certain oneness with their instruments.
 
When the quartet first walked out onto the stage and started to play, the setup, including the lighting, made it feel like the concert was very intimate and personal, like they were playing just for me. It felt like the members were connected with each other and their music.
 
The two violinists, Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, seemed especially connected, and they played in sync quite often. Jay Campbell, the cellist, used his instrument in more ways than I could ever think of, and because of that, he was my favorite musician.
 
The music itself was not the type of music that I walked out humming, or that stuck in my head, but it did make an impression. My favorite piece was Tetras, and this is because of the bizarre use of instruments, and underlying jazzy beats. Although a bit indifferent to the very intense, and sometimes very loud music, the evening left me inspired and with great appreciation for the musicians' superb talent.
 

Word Of Mouth
By Jack Grazer
 
The Wallis Youth Theatre Company’s first production, Word of Mouth, was thought provoking and emotionally moving. This original performance was seeded from the concerns and questions around this last election, the politics and social concerns demonstrated across the USA. The whole world watched and engaged in conversation, and grew into an invitation to examine: words, language, communication and meaning in world that can feel disconnected. At the heart of this piece are these questions: how can we communicate what is going on for us without feeling judged? Can we hear each other and ultimately feel each other and our individual connection to the whole? Can we see each other and care for one another when we have differing viewpoints? How can we come together in ways that honor our individuality? What is fair and humane? Word Of Mouth, avant-garde and somewhat abstract, was an impressive interpretive performance about mind, truth, body and meaning!
 
Metaphorically, as in out of the dark and into the light, the dark beauty of the black box theatre provided a powerful setting for what came forth: physicality, music and performances. Life. Each filled with reaching as if growing from the fertile grounds of the earth into the Spring of creation (toward the light), and like Spring what came to life on the stage sprung forth from the growing search and inquiry of artistic imagination. 
 
The director, Madeleine Dahm, faithful to the creative hearts and minds of her company of young artists,  is a testament to the power of listening, of communication and collaboration. The strong significance of the use of the mask and the movement and the symbolism in the light and dark were all powerful representations of the cast. The outstanding effort the actors put into the show was phenomenal. Every single word that the actors spoke was like a beating drum because every line had meaning and provoked a dot-to-dot heart and mind connection. The overall performance was a massive, powerful explosion!
 
The lighting was unique, as shadows danced from almost every corner of the stage. Lightbulbs hung from the ceiling and when Alex Sheldon, the actor who played the enemy, would hit them they would either turn on or off.  His masked character brought a dystopian feel to the presentation, as the characters would scurry upon his arrival. His control was palpable. This beautifully executed interpretive theatre piece was a reflection on how members of our society interact. The cast was passionate about the concept of the show and let it live through them on stage. With the ever evolving world of words, language, communication, conflict, connection and all the opposites of these, I could see Word of Mouth as a world famous production one day!
 


Jacob Jonas the Company Review
By Anna Polin
Jacob Jonas the Company is spectacular dance performance with every form of dance you can think of.   It is amazing how you can easily understand the story without them speaking a single word.  For this particular show I suggest sitting as close as possible to the stage because it is more fascinating use of costumes and great use of props. It is more interesting to see the performers close up to notice their sudden movement. One of my favorite parts was when there was just one spotlight on the whole stage with dancers coming and going letting you focus on one person instead of several.  The performers on stage performed amazing stunts which includes flipping, complicated break dancing, and flexibility like I’ve never seen before.  I was able to talk with the performers at the end of the performance and it was really cool to hear Jacob’s explanation of every act.  For example the first act resembled a heart rate machine beginning to stop, indicating death. This related directly to Jacob’s life because he recently lost a family member. In conclusion the show was spectacular. I would recommend this show to anyone who loves dance.
 

The Brubeck Brothers Quartet
By Frederick Roman Minser
The four musicians that comprise the Brubeck Brothers Quartet, Daniel Brubeck, Christopher Brubeck, Mike DeMicco, and Chuck Lamb are some of the best Jazz players I have ever seen. This particular performance, a tribute to their father David Brubeck, showcased some of his classic songs to perfection. You could feel how emotionally invested the Quartet was in the music as you too were moved by each piece. The members of the Quartet all had great chemistry with each other and listened closely to one another. Each solo was incredible as they showed off their true musical skills. The drummer, Daniel Brubeck was especially exciting as he played so fast he broke a drumstick. Christopher Brubeck was MC and was brilliant and funny as he cracked jokes about California and made references to Shakespeare‘s The two Gentlemen of Verona. It was apparent their passion for their father is what drove them to give it their all and create magic for the audience.
 


The Brubecks Bring Back the Jazz 
By Liza Freiberg
 
On a chilly night in Beverly Hills, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts gave a warm welcome to the Brubeck Brothers Quarter.  Brothers Daniel and Christopher Brubeck, along with friends and band members Mike DeMicco and Chuck Lamb, delivered a one hundred fifteen minute odyssey of jazz, ranging from themes of love, war, and happiness. 
 
Upon walking into the theater, a person would have noticed the quartet’s rounded instrumental setup, as if meant to complete a circle with the domed display of the audience’s seats. The already intimate environment became even more personal when Christopher Brubeck brought himself to the microphone to recount the history of the quartet and introduce each member. Christopher spoke after every song, and so eloquently set the stage for the theme behind the next tone of jazz that the quartet would play. With such guidance from Christopher, it doesn’t matter whether this concert was someone’s first or hundredth exposure to live jazz – anyone would feel the vibe of the music and what it meant to convey. 
 
To the right of Christopher, from the audience’s perspective, stood Mike DeMicco, guitarist and composer for the Brubeck Brothers Quarter. Counting the band in for every song, Mike strummed off a chain reaction for the rest of the men to follow. His free pace about his area of the stage gave an impression of a confident and comfortable performer. Mike’s purpose was not to show off his talent, but rather to incorporate it with the rest of the group, ultimately providing the audience with the optimal experience of entertainment. 
 
Daniel Brubeck also connected with the audience, for after each one of his sectional features, the crowd erupted in a rage of applause. It is a marvelous experience to see an audience so perceptive that it claps on cue, as if their reaction is a natural instinct to an innate tie with jazz itself. 
 
Each member of the quarter stood out, but pianist Chuck Lamb stole the show with his smooth stroking classical solo. He began by plucking the strings under the lid of the piano, which he did by placing solely his ear on the piano, the keys not even visible to his eyes. He subsequently transitioned his way into a classic melody, and then jived-up his tune so that the rest of the band could merge. 
 
Whether it be the result of endless hours of practice, or simply a love for jazz, the Brubeck Brother Quartet presented a deep bond and awareness of each others’ musicality, so that no one instrument overpowered another. 
 
 


The JACK-Quartet
By Frederick Roman Minser
 
It was a great pleasure to have the opportunity to hear these four musicians; their unique style captivates the mind. The four band members Jay Campbell, John Pickford, Austin Wulliman, and Christopher Otto used their instruments to tell a story.  Jay Campbell plays Cello while the other three play violin. I was very shocked to see how differently they all fit together and how well it worked. During an interview with the band, they described each piece of music, which helped display an image when each piece was performed. Looking back after hearing the musical piece they were very accurate in describing them as an argument.  It seemed like each musician was battling each other for a voice that marveled the audience. 
The whole play list had an eerie vibe comparable to something you would hear in Psycho. During the interview they jokingly laughed at the idea of using plane noises in a song saying, “it wouldn’t appeal to a live audience” this made me curious later on when they magnificently incorporated the sound of a creaky door into their piece. I was disappointed that they did not announce each song they were playing since they mentioned earlier that they might not be playing them in order. Other than that, they created an incredible listening experience for the crowd.
 


Merrily We Roll Along
By Noelle Trost
 
 
While West Side Story is regarded as Stephen Sondheim’s testimonial to Shakespeare, Merrily We Roll Along contains all of the same elements of Shakespeare’s tragic hero that make his plays so iconic. In this semi-autobiographical musical produced in 1981, the life of Franklin Shepard, played by Aaron Lazar in the Wallis Annenberg rendition, is traced backwards from 1976 where he is a successful, but blasé composer surrounded by an artificial group of other eminent producers and performers, all the way back to 1957 where he is encircled by his two best friends, Charley Kringas, played by Wayne Brady, and Beth Spencer, played by Whitney Bashor, dreaming of all the sensational pieces to be created together one day. His story depicts an innovative artist’s loss of individuality in the cold nature of the entertainment business. His desire for wealth and ambition for success, otherwise his tragic flaws, swallows up his passion for music and the strong bond he once had with his companions. 
 
Whereas Merrily We Roll Along is critiqued for its perplexing backwards structure, the Wallis Annenberg performance of this piece demonstrates the musical’s comprehensibility is dependent on the director’s ability. Michael Arden does a wonderful job of making transitions between time periods clear and making the plot easy to follow. Stephen Sondheim himself makes the musical an accessible piece to all audiences by providing contextualization in the form of news reports throughout the story. The acting, singing and dancing ability of the cast is spectacular, with pieces such as “Not a Day Goes By” and “Like it Was” standing out as emotionally touching pieces in the overall production. However, in terms of the actual characters of Merrily We Roll Along, the role of women throughout the play is somewhat outdated from a modern perspective. While each role is deeply complex, each with their own motives and biases, making the production unique, most of the key female roles are either a “love interest” or an “unrequited lover” to Franklin Shepard, no matter how successful or independent that character is. Nonetheless, the portrayal of these characters is very enjoyable, traditional or not.
 
What made this production of Merrily We Roll Along by the Wallis Annenberg memorable was definitely its technical aspect. While working with a minimalist set can sometimes be a gamble, it proved to be successful in this circumstance as the ample space gave the cast plenty of room to dance across the stage, while still providing the au