Curtain Call: Living Dead

The Louisiana Tech Department of Theatre’s production of Living Dead in Denmark by Qui Nguyen closed Sunday afternoon, and, boy, was it a hell of a show.

Currently I’m sitting and reflecting upon the impact that this show had on me. It wasn’t about the story; it wasn’t about the lights, the music, or the stage combat. Nothing about the story truly taught me anything, but it entertained me to a certain degree.

Instead I learned a valuable lesson about my place in the Theatre. I learned the practicality of everything that I am and of everything that God has made me to be. First off, I was the First Assistant Stage Manager, with a great crew surrounding me, teaching me, encouraging me, and helping me stumble through the rehearsal process and the document developing process. Second, I got to work with some of the most genuine, uplifting, and committed artists, from the designers to the actors and so on. Most importantly, I got to change a little bit…

Again, I say that God has made everything in me with a purpose, from the innate core to the steps along the way that have brought me up to this point. He poured into me a little bit of the organization skills it takes to make documents when he brought me through journalism. He poured into me the appropriate response to anxiety, depression, and emotional trauma when he brought me through counseling classes in undergrad. He brought to me a genuine response to actors’ needs when he brought me through various theatrical experiences throughout the years. He gave me a chill personality in moments of stress (for normal people) when he brought me through a life with a large family. He gave me concise and immediate communication and work skills when he brought me through a ministry for men. All that to say, to be a stage manager you need these skills, and I could not have pulled these things out of nowhere. But I never dreamed there was a job where all these things could be compiled into one person.

All that to say, even though God had granted me these experiences and skills along the way, I still felt like a failure. Hours upon hours of work, late nights, lost time with friends, less time for homework, barely any time to eat or sleep – It was a strain on my entire being. And even though it was exhausting mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and so on, it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my entire life. And I will never regret the strain.

I walked into my boss’s office a few days ago; I closed the door, and she sat smiling behind her desk waiting for me to start, “First of all, I just want to say thank you for allowing me to stage manage for this show. Secondly,” I just looked at her, “I don’t know how you did it for so long!” It’s more than just a job; it’s a commitment to something so important and so involved. I poured my heart out to her about my experience, and she just said, “You know why it’s like this? Because you’re doing it from the heart.”

I could have all the skills in the world and everything that God gave me, but what made this show matter so much to me was the amount of heart I poured into it and the amount of hope poured into me by others. Working with the cast and crew meant the world to me, and I’m so grateful for every minute I got to be a part of Living Dead in Denmark, even though I was walking around like a zombie by the middle of production week. C’est la vie. At last I know I’m on a path toward a career that I’ll love.


Best Picture: “How Green Was My Valley” of 1941



Rating: 4/10

431-200 431-200 431-200 431-200

“How Green Was My Valley” was touching and really family-oriented. Overall, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t necessarily life-changing.

The story follows a boy named Huw who becomes a young man throughout the film, and for the most part the chronology of the movie made logical sense. However, I found myself losing interest pretty quickly. And because I was losing interest every now and then, I may have missed a little bit of information here and there but not enough to effect my overall interpretation.

All the actors existed on the same plane. The accents were convincing enough, sometimes slipping into Scottish on the one side and then slipping into an Indian accent on the other side. But there was one actor who had a straight American accent most of the time, and that bothered me a little bit. He could have at least tried. . .

Once again, this was a film that was slightly too loud for its own good. But they got one thing right: the narration made me feel like it was story time.

I loved the heart behind the story arc, and I really felt for the kid and his family. If you like sweet, family dramas or if you like building a relationship with characters, then you should try this movie out at least once.

Disney Flashback: “Fantasia”

On January 15, 2018, we didn’t stop with “Pinocchio.” We set up the surround sound and put on “Fantasia” as well. It was like a concert in the living room.


Rating: 4/10


Initially, I was excited to listen to the concert, and I would love to go to a concert hall to watch this. However, it gets boring about halfway through because you cannot relate the individual storylines to one another. Moreover, you don’t relate to the characters because they’re not the characters you grow up to know as a child. I don’t remember watching this when I was a child, but I do remember the famous scene involving Mickey. So, that was the big winner for me.

Like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” I recognized a lot of elements from “Once Upon a Time,” which was exciting! If you enjoy classical music, I’d say watch “Fantasia” at least once.


Disney Flashback: “Pinocchio”

On the afternoon of January 15, 2018, we got news that school would be out for another day because of inclement weather, and that meant another Disney movie night! Woot! I got another Fair Maiden in hand and gathered round the television with a few of my favorite people to reminisce on our childhood – whether that be good or bad.


Rating: 7/10


My initial response? “Pinocchio” is probably the deep-seeded, unconscious reason that I got involved in Theatre. Some of the characters sing a delightful tune, “An actor’s life for me.” (Now, I can’t say I’m an actor, but I have studied acting techniques and all that jazz.) Speaking of tunes, I enjoyed the music in this film quite a bit more than the music in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Now, let me ask two simple questions that have been bothering me about this movie. Why can some of the animals walk, sing, talk and act like humans while other animals cannot?! And how the hell did Pinocchio become a great puppet sensation, go to Pleasure Island, and end up inside a whale all within about 36 hours?! I digress. . .

As an adult, though, I also wonder, Did no one really think that a man rounding up young boys to take to Pleasure Island was a strange thing? Did no one think to try to stop this madness? His face turned into A MONSTER! Oh gosh, and once they got to Pleasure Island, the boys were drinking alcohol and smoking cigars. What the –? Sure, I’d be excited to demolish a building and eat cotton candy, but still. . . This is madness.

A huge lesson to gain from this film: don’t trust foxes and cats who tell you they can offer quick ways to fame and happiness. I mean, if a fox is talking to you, maybe you should reconsider some things about your life.

Okay, another thing I noticed: Jiminy Cricket is one of the most pervy Disney characters of all time, and Cleo the fish is not far behind him. And in the spirit of over-sexuality, surely I’m not the only one who noticed the juxtaposition of the Blue Fairy’s animation within “Pinocchio” to everyone else and everything else in the movie. She’s an animated blend of Marilyn Monroe and Uma Thurman in a world of cutesy.

With all these things in mind, I had a good time going on this adventure with Pinocchio (even if turning into a jack-ass still terrifies me).

Most relatable character? Geppetto. This poor, simple man goes to sleep wishing on a star, and he wakes up in a world where his creation has come to life. AND HE’S TERRIFIED. I mean, it’s speaking to him, and he reacts logically – terror. So, he does his best to make sense of the situation, accepts it, and then he tries to take care of this boy. The boy runs off, and somehow Geppetto ends up inside a whale. (I can relate. Sometimes you end up inside a whale. That is, metaphorically.) Sometimes you end up in places that you don’t understand; sometimes you experience things that don’t make sense. And you do your best to trudge through the nonsense.

The most accepted theme of the film: Be a good boy. Don’t tell lies. (How stiff! How shallow.)

The most important lesson one can take from “Pinocchio:” Sometimes you make mistakes, but its best to learn from them. Keep trudging through the nonsense. “Let your conscience be your guide.”



Best Picture: “Rebecca” of 1940



Rating: 8/10

431-200 431-200 431-200 431-200 431-200 431-200 431-200 431-200

“Rebecca” was unsettling. For the most part I was uneasy, and most of the time I was unsure why I should feel uneasy. In the back of my mind, I kept hearing the whisper, This is a Hitchcock film; be on the lookout for a twist. And at one point, I exclaimed, “Oh! What the hell?!”

As far as the story goes, it was well structured with twist after twist. A young girl marries a widower, and then she moves into his estate where there are several remnants of his former wife Rebecca. It seems understandable for the most part, but there’s an element of her ghost lingering in the house. And that’s the real trick. She’s dead, but she’s very much alive.

Joan Fontaine did well in selling the suspense of “Rebecca,” but her acting was sometimes distracting. Yes, she sold the emotion, but I was always conscious of her playing an emotion. The others acted well, but it made little difference to the overall story, in my opinion.

I was impressed with how well Alfred Hitchcock created a surreal and ominous atmosphere, and I really enjoyed the voiceovers. I can’t remember the previous films utilizing voiceovers, so I’m glad this film used them. It was refreshing.

If you enjoy CW’s “Riverdale,” give this film a shot. It’s reminiscent of that atmosphere and mood. Also, if you’ve seen other Hitchcock films, give this one a go.


Best Picture: “Gone with the Wind” of 1939



Rating: 10/10

431-200 copy 431-200 copy 431-200 copy 431-200 copy 431-200 copy 431-200 copy 431-200 copy 431-200 copy 431-200 copy 431-200 copy

For most of my life, I had heard of “Gone with the Wind,” and it always seemed boring to me. I’d either hear of people being in love with the story or I’d hear of people who dread it, because it’s so lengthy. And, honestly, after my first viewing, I’m glad I ended up watching it because I actually enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll watch it again anytime soon. Parts of it were romantic, and a majority of it was tragic.

The story was phenomenal. I hated Scarlett every second of the film because she’s manipulative and selfish, but then again a part of me really loved her. (If she were categorized into a house from Hogwarts, she would definitely be Slytherin. And I would marry her. . . And then die. . . Oops, too soon.) I despised how much she used people to attain status; I despised her love for Ashley and that she clung to him in spite of everything. I guess that makes me Rhett Butler in a way. I have hardcore sympathy for Rhett. All that to say, the story was great.

Once again, Clark Gable has a fanatic in me. I’m a Clark Gable fanboy now. And the rest of the cast did a wonderful job, especially Vivien Leigh.

I shout a warm, “Hello!” to the first technicolor film on this list. The music was pleasant. The natural scenery of this film sparked a tenderness in my heart; I may have fallen in love with Tara because of it. The costumes were gorgeous, but one downside about the makeup and a bit of casting: I could not tell how fast the storyline progressed or how old some of the characters were from beginning to end.

So much about this production surprised me and impacted me cinematically. It was moving. I’d say to anyone, give it a chance, at least once, but be prepared to make an event of it.


Best Picture: “You Can’t Take It With You” of 1938



Rating: 8/10

431-200 431-200 431-200 431-200 431-200 431-200 431-200 431-200

Having been Ed in the play version of “You Can’t Take It With You,” I have a special place in my heart for the characters; however, the film adaptation takes a completely different turn with the storyline – more fleshed out. And I enjoyed it just the same. Overall, it was heartwarming.

I really enjoyed the contrast between the two mediums. In the play, the audience spends the whole story entering into the world of Grandpa. In the film, Grandpa’s viewpoint consumes the world. Altogether, the film brought more of an entrepreneurial element to the down-to-earth and playful storyline, and, thus, it became more well-rounded. Thematically, the film kept true to the play: love and enjoyment of life are more important than money and status.

The actors did well. Once again I was inspired by Lionel Barrymore! (He’s becoming one of my favorite actors.)

Technically, the only problem I had with this film was the sheer volume of it all. It was a loud movie throughout.

All in all, I will watch this movie again. And I recommend it to anyone and everyone.