Curtain Call: CWU’s Broadway Red Curtain Revue

It’s not every day that the best of Broadway is brought to your campus and performed to a level that mirrors the pros–but that’s exactly what happened in the McConnell Theatre this past weekend.

From the opening number of “Live in Living Color” to the energetic ending of “Footloose,” the show never wavered in entertainment as the CWU Theatre Ensemble tackled some of the greatest Broadway numbers to grace the stage.

Photos by: McKenzie Lakey

Show Highlights:

It’s incredibly difficult to narrow down the show to a few favorites, but looking back there are a couple that I carried with me long after the show was over. While all are incredible, these drew me into the music, into the moment and left me humming their tunes for the next several days.

“21 Guns” (American Idiot)-Directed by Jeff Rowden

Jeff Rowden’s version of this song beautifully portrays the internal conflict of a single individual–something that separates it from the original meaning and performance by Green Day (which serves more as an ode to a fallen comrade than to an internal conflict).

The constant contrast in choreography, with Jeff on one side of the stage and Chris S. on the other, really brought the piece to life. Because of the contrast, for the first few moments of the number you would believe that the show is going to remain about two individuals.

However, near the end Jeff and Chris stand side-by-side at attention, saluting in the direction of the audience. This is where the true revelation that the characters are one in the same occurs. As Jeff’s character collapses to his knees in defeat, Chris’s hand is lowered to cover his face before he his carried away by the cast and a further internal struggle ensues.

Perhaps the reason I connected to this song on a personal level was because of the meaning behind the lyrics or simply because I have known the song from years of being driven towards alternative music. Regardless, I don’t think I have ever read into the lyrics of “21 Guns” as much as I have in the days following the show.

Were it not for the choreography, beautiful visuals and vocals that unfolded on the stage, I would have never pulled so much emotion from this song. It made me question the way that songs are interpreted by every listener and how they can be visually represented. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to that song again without feeling the same way that I did the first time I saw it come to life.

“All That Jazz” (Chicago)-Directed by Casey Adam Craig

Another number that was displayed beautifully was “All That Jazz.” I grew up watching (and admiring) the talent of every member in every song of both the play and movie. I’m not going to lie, I thought about pursuing theater when I was about seven based solely on the fact that I fell in love with the soundtrack of Chicago. (Luckily I came to my senses and realized I’m much better off in the audience or off-stage with a camera…)

There was such an incredible amount of energy and passion that poured throughout the cast’s version of this song. The crescendo of the lead vocals and the underlying chorus of chants from the cast exploded into a ripple of energy that could catch even the most well-versed Chicago fan off-guard.

Ultimately this was a great way to cap off the first act and was the perfect teaser as to what’s to come in this year’s spring production of Chicago.

 

*Virtual Standing Ovation*

I have to admit, I didn’t go to this show just once. After opening night I decided to grab another ticket and head back for round two. Watching the show for a second time I realized how much confidence the cast had after opening night and noticed that every single person on that stage absolutely soared with confidence. Their lifts were smoother, their timing was cleaner and their harmonies were more in tune.

To put it simply, I was blown away. Not only by our Hype Street Team members–Jakob Wachter and Aubrey Schultz–who were in the Revue and did a wonderful job as well, but by the entire cast.

Overall, I just wanted to say how much I appreciated the cast of the show and the incredible amount of work that they placed into every number that they produced. The fact that they are able to pull off a show so beautifully in addition to their classes, work schedules and personal lives is astonishing. Keep it up, CWU Theatre!

This year’s Giving Tree was a fruitful harvest

When the Giving Tree was erected on Nov. 8, there were 362 tags dangling from the green, leafy limbs. Inscribed on each small piece of paper were the holiday wishes of boys and girls at elementary schools across Kittitas County.

A full month later, presents of all shapes and sizes now line the walls of the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement — the office that has sponsored the event for 18 years running. With today being the last day of the season to return gifts, the overflowing piles of gifts get bigger and bigger as people pour in with presents in hand.

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CLCE student programmers Binh Vo and Jasmine Gonzalez both worked on the Giving Tree this year. 

Some could say it’s a Christmas miracle. Others could say it’s not a miracle; it’s the goodwill and benevolence of the community giving to children at a time when they need it most. Not everyone gets to experience the holidays the same way, and it’s through the Giving Tree that the CLCE has ensured every kid — regardless of their family’s economic situation — receives a gift.

When I walked by the CLCE office, I was blown away by the literal piles of presents waiting to be distributed to children in the county. I could see the presents in the main entryway and in the bookcases to the left and right of the doorway, but what I couldn’t see were the larger piles of presents in the back of the office.

362 tags were taken within weeks of the Giving Tree going up, and while the CLCE doesn’t know how many presents have been returned yet, it’s safe to assume this year has been one of the best yet. People in the community are really giving Santa a run for his money.

So if you’re still waiting to return a gift for the Giving Tree event, remember to drop them off at the CLCE office by 5 p.m. today.

Oh, and happy holidays from CWU Hype!

‘Along for the ride’ – Q&A with Whiskey N’ Rye lead singer Philip Lindholm

Americana, blues, roots-rock; whatever you want to call it, Whiskey N’ Rye is it. This five-piece from Seattle knows how to put on a show. They recently released their sophomore album, “Sick Soul Summertime” to rave reviews and sizable fan-fare.

They’re headed to CWU this Friday, so we caught up with lead singer and songwriter Philip Lindholm to ask him about their influences as a band, what their journey to fame has looked like and why of all place, they chose CWU to perform.

Whiskey N Rye

When did the band start and what got you into making music?

The band started around 2013. I’ve been making music for a long time. I started when I was a student at Central from 2001 to 2003. I was always playing but I didn’t actually start songwriting untilI had a weird neighbor in the dorms that was always playing and writing music.

So you went to Central? What did you study?

I graduated with a double major, actually. One in philosophy and religious studies, and then an independent studies. You were able to craft your own degree and dialogue with an advisor. My advisor knew Hebrew and Aramaic. That was something that I wanted to study.

I was in Douglas honors college, I was kicked out. Got kicked out because I was doing homework for one class for another class.

What did you do right out of college?

It’s funny, after I graduated I went over seas for college. I went to oxford and spent a lot of time there over in Europe. It was there that I started to really develop as a songwriter and a producer. I’d been writing for a while and producing forever. I really started to form songs together that were much bigger than me. I was hearing music that was grand. I was writing music that required more music, more sounds and more pallets. I was working at the BBC at the time and I ended up quitting I moved back to Seattle to start a recording studio. It was really hard to write music over there and I was working full time. I took the money I saved up and threw it into a rehearsal studio.

Wait, you worked at BBC? Doing what?

At BBC, I was a documentary filmmaker. I was working film production for making documentaries.

As you’re probably aware, you took the stereotype for rock ‘n’ roll singer and threw it out the window.

Generally it sounds pretty odd to people. When you read the band bios, I really don’t bring it up.

How long have the five of you known each other?

We’re going on three years now, which sounds like a long time, but it’s been going so fast, we literally started our very first gig at the mix in Seattle. There were 30 people there, and the stage show, the sounds, was all very nascent. It wasn’t formed yet. We grew form that 30 person show to playing a big auditorium of a thousand person stadium in Reno. We’re playing for the Sounders here in a few weeks. It’s kind of exploding, we’re just along for the ride at this point.

The Sounders? That sounds like a huge show

We actually play the march to the match is what it’s called. There’s a big parade that goes through Seattle in Pioneer Square that goes to the field. We’re in discussions of actually playing inside the stadium for different events.

Is this you first serious band; what did you do before?

It’s the only band I’ve had. We’ve changed a couple faces here and there. This is the only band I’ve ever been in. a lot of guys have been in lots of different projects. This is my baby, this is the only one I got. I give it everything I got.

What’s it like being a southern-style rock group in Seattle?

Surprisingly enough, we’re amongst kind of a smaller group of bands that are doing similar sounds. As foreign as it might be to this region, there’s actually a lot of it going on. We’re not a movement like the EDM movement. We have no Decibel Festival, or that type of support. We have a lot of people yearning for actual instruments in their music. People who still love rock and roll, people who identify with where rock and roll has come from, but where rock and roll can go in a way that still resonates with those blues roots, Americana roots.

So explain roots-rock to me. What exactly does that mean?

We call ourself a roots rock band which means we incorporate Americana, folk, that sort of thing. Those are genres that rely heavily upon emotion and real instruments. Not having any other production elements in a song. One of the things we do is, we’ll lay everything down and then we’ll let it sit for a while. If I’m distracted by anything in the song, if there’s anything in the way, then it goes. There’s really sense of needing to be very discerning of what the song actually requires. There’s a lot of toys out there now, a lot of buttons to be pushed and strings to be pulled. When the guitar is soloing, we want you to know it, when the drums are pounding, we want you to feel it.

What sort of reaction have you seen from your album “Sick Soul Summertime”? Have you had an audience sing your lyrics back yet?

We were doing this show in Reno as part of a benefit for a local food bank. We thought we would show up and play our tails off. The there was singing our lyrics back to us. The record had done very well there in about a month previous to us showing up. When we showed up, it was incredible show. We ended up staying for an hour, hour and a half. It was pretty surreal for us. We find, when people hear the music they like it.

What is that moment like, as a songwriter, to hear an audience sing your lyrics back to you?

I think every songwriter, when they write a song, gets to a point in the process where they say, ‘Is this for me, or is it for the world?’ What drives that decision is what’s best for somebody. The clearest and most obvious is when you show up and somebody is singing that back to you. The song no longer belongs to me, it’s there’s now. They’ve made it there own, they’re kind of giving it back.

What spurred the decision to come back to Central?

We’ve only been working with college booker for six months now. I told him that we’d really like to go back to central. I still have friends there, still have professors there, I would love to go back. My drummer is 16-years-old. We really love that college vibe. We feel like, the music is a whole lot of fun and when you play colleges, we find that people are jumping along with us. We love the college market. I personally have an affinity for Central.

It’s a cliché question, but, what sort of bands have influenced you guys?

Each of the guys would answer that a bit differently. From a song writer place, John Lennon has mapped it for me. My keyboard and drummer are big McCartney fans. My keyboardist for example, grew up in Italy, if you ask him about his music influence, he’ll say something completely different.

As I grow older, the Seattle sound makes a lot more impact now then it did then. There was a lot of noise back then, and now, especially with streaming, I can be a lot more selective of what I want to listen to. I find myself returning to those sounds that came from the 1990’s.

You recently got a great producer. What’s it been like working with him?

We do believe in allowing a certain amount of chaos on stage, and in the studio. We did mix with Jack Endino. This is a guy that refuses to work on a click track. Most of the recording studios, 99 percent play everything to a click track. Jack Endino comes along and says, ‘Look all my favorite records in rock history, there’s emotion in the music.’ While we don really sound like a lot of those sounds, we certainly appreciate the earnestness and the artistry, and that’s really what a recording does. It captures a band in a moment.

What’s your favorite venue to play at?

We do love colleges, there’s just an energy there you’re not going to find elsewhere. We also like to go into the dirtiest dive bars in towns. We’ve played some prim and proper venues where people are seated in booths and they’re just kind of watching while they’re eating their salmon. We enjoy that, but it’s a very different set. For colleges – depending on the event – we like to turn it up a bit and have some fun. If we were left to our own devices, and we could play anywhere, we would find a really dirty club and play on.

Sitting down with standup comedian Iliza Shlesigner

You read the story in Hype, now get the full scoop. CWU Hype had a chance to catch up with Iliza Schlesinger, who is busy shooting her new TBS relationship game show, “Separation Anxiety,” performing live and writing new material.

She answered a few our questions, and we couldn’t be more excited to share with you her opinions on social media, how her life changed after winning “Last Comic Standing” and her role in creating entertainment content for a streaming-centric youth.

What inspired you to become a comedian? Were you class clown and it’s something you’ve always dreamed of or did it come to you later in life?

It literally never occurred to me to do anything else. I knew all roads would have to lead to this end result. Also? I can’t do math, so that really limited my horizons.

What’s your favorite type of venue to perform at? What’s your least favorite? Do you have a story of a worst/best experience?

I like big venues because I enjoy feeding off a crowd’s energy. I love commanding a large crowd and I’m used to it from touring so much. That being said, an intimate group is a beautiful thing because you have to really pause to take the time to be mindful of your energy and theirs and how they fit, if it sounds like a new age holistic approach, it isn’t, it’s just a fancy way of talking about timing. I believe there is a lesson to be learned from every show, so I always try to book mainstream and alternative venues, that way I am always prepared. I love it all. 

Did your life change drastically after you won “Last Comic Standing”? How?

Yeah, I had only been doing comedy for three years, so I went from having no career to being a headliner basically overnight. It taught me a lot fast, but I’m glad I got a head start on my life.

You probably get asked this all the time, but I think it’s necessary in today’s climate: How has performing as a woman been throughout the years?

Yeah, I do get asked that lot. Can’t answer it since I’ve never performed as a man.

Were you ever discouraged in becoming a comic because you’re a woman?

No. When you’re funny, people love to tell you that you’re funny. The sad part is when you aren’t funny and people tell you that you’re funny and you try to have a career in it anyway, that’s how you end up holding a sign on a corner to an open house for eight bucks an hour or you get a TV show… Could really go either way.

How has it been working with Netflix and more online-centric entertainment partners? Is this the future for stand-up comedians (rather than Comedy Central specials being the gold-standard)?

Netflix kicked the door in and took no prisoners. They basically pioneered the whole idea of non-linear programming. They put creative people in charge and gave them license to create what they wanted – a great example of that is OITNB. They are exceptional at spotting talent and letting that talent shine. They totally changed the stand up game. It used to be you got a special and it aired whenever a network aired it.

Netflix came in and was like, “How about we give you creative control, put a ton of money behind you and give fans access 24 hours a day?” You would have to be insane not to think their formula is better.  

Have you noticed a change in your style of humor and how well you can craft a joke throughout the years? What was that like and when/how did you start noticing?

The more I do it the more syntax and detail matter. Comedy is a science and pacing, syllables and word choice are huge factors – once you have the heart and the intention, the icing on the cake is the perfect word choice and order.

You’re an avid user of social media; what do you like and/or hate about the experience? Do you feel more connected to fans this way or do you find yourself using it almost as an outlet for distraction like the rest of us?

I hate that total losers feel that they have the right (and no you don’t just because you have the opportunity) to be horrible to people and hide behind the anonymity of a screen. It’s gutless to harass someone and have a locked profile; it just shows how weak they are.

I don’t mind it as much for me because I have a tough skin and don’t read THAT many tweets. I feel for women who are harassed, I feel for any kids that get bullied – I just wish people would remember that the person being mean to you is more afraid of themselves than anything and them lashing out is just them demonstrating how much they hate themselves. No two ways around it.

That being said, I think having a direct connection to fans gives you insight and, if you do it right, you can really lean on them in times of need – I look at my fans like a big group who is all in on a great inside jokes. I love them so much. They are my #PartyGoblins. And yes, I use social media as a remedy to how bored I am (sadly) with every moment my mind isn’t occupied with something worthy of my full attention – like most conversations.

What kind of humor can a crowd of college students expect from your live set? Do you have different material than you’d normally perform?

Do you guys like blood? Do you like balloon art? No? I’d say go watch my Netflix special to prepare, and then come to me with your Raptor Claw sharpened and an open mind.

HAWAI – We’re talking about the band, not the state

If you haven’t heard of HAWAI (pronounced huh-way), I don’t blame you. They’re still new; it takes time to find an audience, and they’re still working on their yet-to-be-named, debut EP. However, if you’re in Ellensburg Friday, Sept 30, and you’re not planning on seeing them for FREE at 8 p.m. in the SURC Pit, then shame on you.

These guys are the real deal and I would be shocked if they aren’t famous by the time 2017 rolls around. Their singles, “Fault” and “In My Head” – which they recently released on Soundcloud and Youtube – are radio ready and sound as if they were produced on equipment worth millions of dollars. Well, they weren’t. Though, recently they’ve collaborated with Lars Staffers who produced for Cold War Kids and The Mars Volta – and with his expertise – HAWAI has been able to create some of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard.

I recently had a chance to catch up with lead singer and song writer Jake Pappas who spoke on behalf of his bandmates, Casey Lagos, Jared Slaybaugh, Matt Gillen and Jesse Dorman who all make up the five-piece southern California alternative rock band, HAWAI.

Jake Pappas is second from the right, in the white shirt.

First question I have to ask: where did the name HAWAI come from?

We racked our brains for a while trying to come up with a band name. Everything in the entire world is already taken. Not only is it already taken, it’s taken by three different bands. We had a lot of things we were considering. We actually had a list of what we wanted the band name to encompass, and HAWAI checked off on every part of it. We wanted people to hear something with the name. We went through every process: combining two words together and see how that works or taking stuff from childhood and see how that connects. We thought it would be cool to have a statement, and have a name that hasn’t been taken yet. You think about something when you hear about that state and it’s normally good things. It’s kind of what we felt our music was; it’s good vibes. We wanted and we always will want our music to take people places. The plan is at some point, when people talk about HAWAI, for them to think, ‘Are you talking about the band or the state?’

You five had a previous band called J.Thoven. Why did you guys decide to start over and what’s different this time around?

This particular project is not like a start over at all, it’s more so a continued thing we’ve always known. It’s a different sound. It’s basically like a new chapter of what we’ve always done together. It’s been great, this time around the song writing has been really different. We’ve actually focused on structure; following the rules of songwriting if you must. Playing live has been a lot more fun, you can engage people a lot better. Our past projects, we never did any of that. We had 10 songs in one. We’ve just kind of straightened out a little bit more.

I noticed you guys have brought in Lars Staffer to produce your EP. What’s that been like?

We signed a publishing deal and they hooked us up with a couple of different producers and we immediately meshed with Lars Staffers. He did the last Cold War Kids record, did the last Matt and Kim record. He’s done a couple of The Mars Volta records. His catalog is getting better and it’s already awesome. We met with him and immediately clicked. He caught our vibe right away and it felt just immediate. Working with him was a huge success in terms of understanding the process. Ever since working with him, we feel an ease when we go to write songs. It doesn’t have to be crazy difficult.

While playing at these different venues, have you had the moment of ‘Oh wow, these people are singing my lyrics right now’?

We’ve got an under the radar thing a little bit. We’ve reached out to blogs and attempted to get our music online as much as possible. Right now is where we’re in the stage of playing out more. So, the locations that we’re playing at, there’s not really anybody that is familiar with us yet. We play our home town in Orange County, but even then, playing our home town is kind of different because you get a lot of your friends. So far this tour has been rad. The kids seem to really really enjoy what we’re doing.

What does playing live mean to you guys?

We all love music so much and it’s what we spend the majority of our day thinking about. And we’re super critical too about what we do and what music is about. So much goes into that, and when you get to play live, you let all of that out. It’s an outlet for us and it feels really good to play a show and feel the energy of the crowd and feel the energy of each other. The live show is like the payoff of that.

You mentioned the songwriting process has changed. Is this from maturing as musicians?

We kind of have a new structure of songwriting that’s just worked the best for us. I will come up with a melody and our lead guitarist has been really into recording over the past few years and has gotten really good at it. We’ll start with a drum beat to say what kind of vibe we want the song to have. We learned from our producer that the drum beat is the vibe of it. Do you want to do something that’s upbeat, a ballad? It’s all structured off the beat. From there, we add a melody of what I think of. Then we layer on top of all of that. We’ve figured out all of that best. Everything is building off of what makes the song best which is the melody. All of the other stuff is secondary really.

How did you meet the other four members in the band?

The drummer and bassist of the band, I had played music with prior to starting community college. While there was when I started writing for the first time. When I was in college, I started writing lyrics and singing. I shared with them the first song I had written. We started playing music again and it led to something that we never expected to do. I fell in love with something I never thought I would pursue.

Don’t miss the chance to catch something truly special when HAWAI visits CWU this Friday at 8 p.m. in the SURC Pit.