Artist Spotlight: Jack Johnson

by Madelyn Young '25 on April 8, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

When I ask people if they listen to Jack Johnson, their immediate response usually has something to do with the Curious George movie. While he was responsible for the classic 2006 song, “Upside Down,” Johnson has been pretty busy since then. 

In fact, the singer and songwriter has released 10 albums since his debut (Brushfire Fairytales) in 2001. Probably his most well-known album is his 2005 In Between Dreams, which includes songs like “Better Together” and “Banana Pancakes.” Most of the other songs in this album are just as upbeat and positive as these two, making it a perfect addition to any springtime playlist. 

A personal favorite is From Here To Now To You, which was released in 2013. It is easy to see why this album wasn’t as popular when it came out, considering that 2013 was the prime of artists such as One Direction and Miley Cyrus. This album, however, offers a very different style than 2010s pop with songs like “I Got You” and “Tape Deck,” in which Johnson recounts stories about his upbringing in Hawaii. In fact, many of his songs reveal personal accounts about his life, including his relationships with his wife (“Do You Remember”) and his children (“You Remind Me of You”). 

While the instrumental aspect of his music is amazing itself, the lyrics are often what draw people in. My favorite example of this is “Inaudible Melodies” from his first album. He even makes a reference to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (Civ throwback!) to make a point about the way people take in information. 

Johnson’s most recent album was Meet the Moonlight, which came out in early 2022. In my opinion, this was a big shift from his previous albums in terms of the style. When the single by the same name came out, I was expecting a fast-paced and upbeat song, but was instead met with a mellow, slow song. However, this song set the stage perfectly for the rest of the album. While there are a few faster ones such as “3AM Radio” and “Don’t Look Now,” the majority of the album is composed of songs very similar to “Meet the Moonlight.” This was a great change of pace and something that stood out to fans, especially because it had been five years since his last album was released. 

During the summer of 2022, Johnson went on tour, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the first people to hear his new album live! Hearing his songs in person was an incredible experience, and the concerts felt more like a relaxing guitar session with friends than an artist performing for a crowd. This mellow and positive feeling that his music exudes is what makes his work so unique. And, of course, it probably reminds everyone of the Curious George movie from our childhood. If you need a great addition to your spring and summer playlists, be sure to add some Jack Johnson songs!

Get “Hooked” on Crocheting!

by Madelyn Young '25 on March 6, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Have you been looking for a new hobby? Try crocheting!

Although it might seem a little outdated, crocheting has been making a comeback, and serves as a great way for people to express themselves creatively. 

Crocheting your own clothing is a great way to show off your sense of fashion since each piece is unique. Even if you follow a pattern, no two pieces will turn out the  exact same way, because everything can be made with different colors and in different sizes. 

In addition to being extremely rewarding, crocheting can help prevent fast fashion. As social media and influencers seem to show off new trends daily, companies rapidly produce clothes to keep up. Not only are these clothes often poor quality, they also tend to get thrown out or donated as trends quickly die. Creating some pieces of clothing for yourself, on the other hand, ensures that you have unique, lasting pieces curated to your taste. And depending on the piece, you can often reuse yarn if you aren’t satisfied with a project (trust me, I do this a lot).

Crocheters aren’t just making clothes. Crocheting is a great hobby to have around holidays and birthdays to make unique homemade gifts for friends and family. You can use yarn to make stuffed animals, tapestries, bags, coasters, and even clothes for your pets (I made a hat for my cat, Quinn, this weekend). 

If you want to begin crocheting, but aren’t sure where to start, make use of social media platforms like Youtube, TikTok, and Pinterest. There are thousands of creators that have tutorials on supplies, techniques, and projects. Many people share their progress, which can be encouraging for people who are struggling. These platforms can be very helpful for finding inspiration for a new project.

Taking up crocheting is also relatively inexpensive. All you need to get started is a hook and a ball of yarn, which you can get online or at craft stores. As you gain experience, you can branch out and find different colors and textures of yarn for different projects. There are big craft stores like Michael’s close to Providence, but also many local ones all throughout Rhode Island (such as Skein Yarn Shop in East Greenwich). 

I also find that crocheting is a great way to relax. You can do it while listening to a podcast or audiobook, watching TV, or even while talking with friends. 

As winter (slowly) comes to an end, this is the perfect time to start working on some crochet pieces to show off when the weather is warmer!

Curtains Up, Curtains Down: The Upcoming Months to Bring Changes to Broadway

by Madelyn Young '25 on February 21, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

As the slow winter season comes to a close, theater-goers are both mourning the loss of beloved shows while also preparing for new, star-studded shows arriving on Broadway. 

In 2022, perhaps the most tragic closing was Dear Evan Hansen, which had been running for six years. The show toured around the country that year as well, even coming to the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC). 

In only the last few weeks, however, fans have seen the closings of favorite shows, such as A Strange Loop (Jan. 15), Into the Woods (Jan. 8), and The Music Man (Jan. 15).

Beetlejuice, the musical based on the 1988 movie by the same name, has also closed (Jan. 8) after a four-year run with nearly 700 performances. However, this is not the first time the musical has made a trip to the “Netherworld;” it has undergone many changes since its 2019 opening. In March of 2020, it closed at the Winter Garden Theater along with the rest of Broadway. While fans thought the show was gone for good, it reopened with most of the original cast at the Marriott Marquis Theater at the beginning of last year. Now, it is on a national tour, and will be at PPAC in late April. 

Another Broadway staple that is set to close is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. The show came to New York from London in 1988 and has been there ever since, racking up around 14,000 performances. It is now the longest running Broadway show of all time. Though the closing was pushed later, its run will end in April of this year. 

On a brighter note, theater lovers have much to celebrate. This past week, the show Moulin Rouge has been the highlight of Broadway, since Aaron Tveit returned to his lead role as Christian. He is taking over for Derek Klena from now until April. TikTok and Instagram have been overtaken by audience members posting videos of his famous opt-up on the last note of “El Tango de Roxanne.” 

In other news, the revival of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd is set to start previews in February. It has been on and off of Broadway since 1979, going on tours and having a movie adaptation made in 2007. The 2023 cast is full of stars, and is sure to amaze. The title role will be played by famous singer Josh Groban, and Tony award winner Annaleigh Ashford will be Mrs. Lovett. Other notable cast members are Jordan Fisher (Disney and Netflix star) and Stranger Things’ Gaten Matarazzo. 

Although several popular shows are coming to an end, there will be many opportunities for fans to see both new shows and revivals of classics. As the busy spring season approaches, we can hope that Broadway will bring exciting offerings to replace fan favorites. 

Death-Cast is Calling

by Madelyn Young '25 on December 4, 2022
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

If you could find out the day that you are destined to die, would you? The fictional novel They Both Die at the End by young adult author Adam Silvera explores this question. 

The 2017 book introduces Death-Cast, a government-sponsored company that is able to predict people’s death. The catch? They can not predict the exact time or reason for their subscribers’ deaths. The company hires callers to notify people (called “Deckers”) between the hours of midnight and two in the morning. The Deckers are told that they will die at some point during that day. 

They Both Die at the End follows Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio, two young boys who receive Death-Cast calls and, through an app, meet up to spend their last day together. Throughout their adventure, they fall in love and make the most of their final escapade around New York City. 

The First to Die at the End, which came out in October of this year, serves as a prequel to the original story. It takes place in 2010 and begins with the first day of Death-Cast’s existence. Orion, a young writer, has been waiting for a heart donor for years. In Times Square, he meets Valentino, an aspiring model who just moved to the city. The pair experience life and love during Death-Cast’s tragic first day. 

Following in the footsteps of the original book, The First to Die at the End has become a New York Times bestseller, climbing the Young Adult Hardcover chart. This past week, it took over the first place spot. They Both Die at the End spent over two years on the bestseller list, winning numerous awards during this time. Despite being released five years ago, the series has been steadily growing in popularity thanks to social media platforms like TikTok. 

Silvera has a talent for taking his readers through many twists and turns throughout his stories, a skill prevalent in both of the novels. Whether he uses a sentence or a word, the delivery of his lines can be heart-wrenching or hilarious. His two books are easy to read yet complex; all the characters’ stories are carefully interwoven with one another. In fact, at the end of the first novel there is a character map connecting each side character to one another and to Mateo and Rufus. 

These two also make appearances in the prequel, even interacting with Valentino and Orion. The stories prove that even the smallest interaction can have an important impact. Silvera’s ability to create emotional storylines following the course of only one day (even down to the minute at times) is remarkable, and really immerses the reader in the events taking place. 

For readers who want a funny, suspenseful, and devastating story, They Both Die at the End and The First to Die at the End will serve them well. Silvera has even hinted at another addition to the series in the next few years, which has been highly anticipated after the ending of his most recent installment. 

Happily “Never” After

by Madelyn Young '25 on November 4, 2022
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

A beloved book series comes to life

In May of 2013, the first book in the School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani was released. After nine years, it has become one of the most popular young adult novels, has had five additional installments to the series, and most recently, has been turned into a Netflix original film. In only the first week of its release, it became the No. 1 most-watched film on Netflix in 93 countries.

The film follows the story of best friends Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie) who get swept away from their provincial town to the School for Good and Evil, two magical institutions that train the heroes and villains of famous fairy tales. When Sophie gets placed in the School for Evil and Agatha in the School for Good, their ideas of what it means to be good and evil are challenged as they make history in the fairytale world. 

While the book was originally intended for younger teen audiences, the series was released over a span of several years; the last book made its debut in 2020. Because of this, most of the original audience grew up with the books. Chainani’s characters and storylines seemed to mature through the years, which greatly expanded the fanbase leading up to the release of the film. The movie covers the story of the first book only, and with its immediate success, it is likely that more of the series will be adapted into movie form. 

The cast and crew of The School for Good and Evil boast a vast array of incredible talents. The movie is directed by Paul Feig, who is known for his work on Bridesmaids and The Office. The leading role of Sophie is played by Sophia Anne Caruso, who is best known for her Broadway role as Lydia in the musical Beetlejuice. Her co-lead, Sofia Wylie, became famous for her role on Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Other main roles are played by Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Michelle Yeoh, and Cate Blanchett. Each of the actors truly embody their characters, bringing the book series to life in a creative yet accurate way. 

The cast is not the only remarkable part of the movie, however. Given the whimsical and imaginative world that Chainani created in his book series, it is only expected that the film would follow suit in delivering this aesthetic to fans. The movie did not disappoint. Everything from the sets of the schools to the filming location (Northern Ireland), to the soundtrack was extremely detailed and clearly well thought-out. Feig even noted that they limited the use of CGI, opting to film most scenes live-action in order to make the movie feel as realistic as possible. One stand-out example of the level of detail is the different costumes used throughout the movie. They not only reflect the differences between the two schools but transform with the characters as they learn and grow. 

In an interview with Kelly Clarkson, Chainani talks about the point of his story and how it carries through into the movie. “We grew up being told that if you’re good, then you will have a happy ending…We can’t be good or pure evil. We’re somewhere in between.” While this message has already been present in his work for years, The School for Good and Evil movie is sure to leave audiences questioning what they think they know about good and evil. 

They’re Back!

by Madelyn Young '25 on October 9, 2022
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Hocus Pocus 2 Filmed in Providence 

After 29 years, Disney’s beloved Halloween classic has finally gotten its sequel—and it was filmed right here in Providence. Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker reprised their iconic roles as Sarah, Mary, and Winifred Sanderson and give a performance just as amazing as they did in 1993. 

While Hocus Pocus 2 is different from its original in many ways, it stays true to the famous moments fans have come to love from the original. The movie follows three teenage girls trying to defeat the witches after they come back to wreak havoc on Salem. Not only have the three leads returned, but some other classic characters like Billy Butcherson have as well. And if you loved the Sanderson Sisters’ rendition of “I Put a Spell on You” from the first movie, you will be glad to know that there is another amazing musical number in the sequel. 

Even though the movie is set in Salem, MA, it was filmed right here in Rhode Island. Chase Farm in Lincoln was home to not only the witches’ original house, but an entire colonial village. Here, we see the witches in 1653 as teenagers and learn the story of how they were banished from Salem and became witches. 

Providence College students might recognize some of the locations used for filming. The high school scenes took place at La Salle Academy and the witches explore a local Walgreens at the beginning of the movie. 

As the first Hocus Pocus has become arguably one of the most well-known Halloween movies since its release, Hocus Pocus 2 had a lot to live up to. The original is known for its incredible soundtrack, timeless humor, and iconic lines that are quoted constantly throughout the season. The witches and their schemes provided a humorous aspect, while the relationships between the other main characters gave the movie more of an emotional side. 

In the sequel, the viewers get a glimpse of the sisterly relationship between Sarah, Mary, and Winifred, which doesn’t take away from their hilarious antics, but rather provides the characters with much more dimension. In many ways, the heart-warming sibling relationships between Max and Dani as well as Emily and Binx in the first movie are paralleled by the witches 30 years later.

While Hocus Pocus 2 did meet (and even exceed) expectations in terms of choreography, music, and costumes, it is difficult to measure up to such an influential original. Viewers should think of it truly as a sequel—a continuation of the witches’ stories and mission—rather than a new movie to replace the first. Additionally, the movie hinted at a third return of the witches in the future, implying that the three witches might not be finished tormenting Salem. 

For Hocus Pocus lovers, the sequel will be a great addition to a Halloween movie lineup. The music, magic, and mischief of the Sanderson sisters are sure to put you in the mood for autumn. 

It’s Showtime!

by Madelyn Young '25 on October 9, 2022
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

PPAC Kicks Off its Broadway Series

Last week, the Providence Performing Arts Center began its first of seven shows in their 2022-2023 Broadway series with Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. This high-energy show is simultaneously exciting and emotional, revealing the musician’s upbringing and abusive relationship with her husband, Ike Turner. Her hit songs are cleverly interwoven within the story, emphasizing the highs and lows of her journey to becoming the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Even though Tina has left PPAC to continue its national tour, there are plenty more musicals to experience in the upcoming months, notably Mean Girls, Beetlejuice, and Six. With the variety of genres and stories in the Broadway Series, theater-goers will have no issue finding a show to interest them.

Tina Fey’s Mean Girls takes the PPAC stage Oct. 4-9. The coming-of-age musical—which is based on the 2004 movie of  the same name—follows Cady Heron’s rise to the top of the high school food chain alongside the three most popular girls in school. Full of upbeat pop music, Mean Girls is a hilarious, uplifting show that is perfect for a night out with friends.

For the history buffs, Six tells the tales of Henry VIII’s wives in a modern, inspiring way. Each of the six women get a chance to express their stories in a concert-style show, incorporating both energetic pop numbers with emotional ballads. Between the colorful costumes and empowering characters, audience members are sure to enjoy learning about these legendary women in a brand-new light. The show will be in Providence in April of 2023.

Last but certainly not least, the final show in the Broadway series is Beetlejuice. Based on the 1988 Tim Burton movie of the same name, this musical follows teenager Lydia Deetz as she copes with loss, family, and ghosts. The set and special effects of this show are incredible and surprising; there is something new in every scene. As Beetlejuice himself says in the show, it is “a bold departure from the original source material.” While it has all the creepiness and humor of the movie, it incorporates a much more emotional storyline and sheds light on darker, more serious themes. Viewers will appreciate the depth of the characters and find themselves rooting for each one. This will be the perfect show to send PPAC’s Broadway series out with a bang.

With the wide variety of shows to be found at the Providence Performing Arts Center, it is a great experience for PC students. Whether it’s with a group event, a solo trip, or even a family outing, there is sure to be a show for everyone to enjoy. Additionally, PPAC frequently offers rush tickets, which allow students to get half-priced seats for shows. If you have yet to see a show here, the 2022-2023 Broadway series is the perfect opportunity to visit the theater, and possibly discover a new musical to enjoy.