The show had live music by a pit orchestra, in which my sister took part. When they did Crazy for You last year it was the first time in a long time that a musical had live orchestration at RUHS, so I’m glad to see the tradition continue.
Editor’s Note: I thought I wrote about that show but apparently not, so forgive my semi-random link up there.
I don’t have too terribly much to say about the show itself. The theatre kids put on a nice performance that I would say shined most in its stage design.
To create the titular woods, stage hands dragged tree stumps into the mid-ground, and logs were lowered onto them from the ceiling. It was a really neat little effect that got enhanced by fog machines.
And of course, the music was wonderful. Which I only say in part because this post is a shill for my sister (who deserves credit, but still). Even though the sound mixing was not optimal and a lot of the actors kind of got lost in it.
The only major complaint I have about the show was an odd framing device added on top of the story.
They decided to have Into the Woods, in the context of their continuity, be the content of a book being read to a lost little girl in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Bit of an oddly paired metaphor.
It didn’t bear enough of an effect on the story to ruin it necessarily, but at the same time the fact that they didn’t elaborate on it much just left me asking why it was included at all.
I suppose I will say that it contributed to an immersive theatre-going experience.
All the kids got to mess around and play their hearts out in the aisles of the auditorium before the show. Asking audience members if they’ve seen family or friends lost in the hurricane, requesting food in exchange for voodoo crystals, so on and so forth.
It was a lot of fun, and added to a nice overall presence through things like a faux red carpet backdrop in the lobby:
Pretty cute stuff.
That’s just about all I have to say about the show. It was originally going to be my main blog post of the day before I exhausted myself last night and decided to save my Us review for earlier.
But I didn’t want to leave my sister hanging. Especially after I got such a cute picture of her.
So you’re getting two-for-one today, and I don’t have to feel as bad about skipping another day of writing in March.
That’s right, after an intensive weekend of frequently driving back-and-forth between Redondo Beach and Long Beach repeatedly, it was finally time for my sister’s official performance with the honors band.
This was actually, from what I can tell at least, a relatively prestigious little event that she applied for.
Of course I only say that because the bare minimum that I know without further research is that the four-year-old concert featured a few guests with pedigrees including the L.A. Phil Harmonic and John Williams movie scores, as well as the fact that kids apparently applied from as far as Alaska.
So you know. Either it’s a prestigious event or some folks were real desperate to get away from Sarah Palin.
Jokes aside, it was a pretty awesome hour-and-a-half show in a very lovely auditorium. I decided to be that guy who went around taking pictures of the lobby just to let y’all feel like you were there too.
If that’s the kind of thing you like.
The stage itself was also very nice, enough to be my Featured Image. Not only were the acoustics resonant for the entire audience, I would also argue it’s nicely designed from an aesthetic point of view.
A nice mesh of dark grey and maroon, with the panels of the wall specifically made to be a surprise when some of them were revealed to be doors.
At least I thought it was a cute little surprise.
Now, I’m sure you’re all expecting me to delve into the content of the show itself. I will, but not in quite as much detail as I originally expected to when planning to write about her show today.
I wanted to take a photo of all three groups that were performing, maybe even include some video of the songs. The grand finale that Aly’s band performed certainly would have been bombastic to show off.
Unfortunately they did not allow photography or video of any kind.
So… Threw that idea in the dumpster. Which is a shame considering Aly was basically right in the center of the front row as a second chair flute.
But that’s the writing business for you, I suppose. Adaptation is required.
Instead of a more in-depth catalog, here’s just a brief synopsis of the show’s bands:
The Choir. A very nice set of performances that only helped reinforce the idea in my head that all choirs seem to perform is churchy religious hymns and such. Also helped me realize that my 21st century urges to be doing literally anything with my hands comes out strong when all I have to look at is a bunch of kids standing on stage singing for a half hour.
The String Orchestra. Subjectively, I’d argue this group was my favorite if for no other reason than string orchestras with that keyboard clatter in the background always remind me of medieval castle interior themes. Thought it was really funny that two of the performers were in blue and pink dresses because I believed they just didn’t get the memo about dressing in black, but it turned out they were special guest soloists. Whoops.
The Big Band. Objectively the best group of the night… And I’m not just saying that because it’s the group my sister performed with. They were the most complex and developed in terms of sound because they were a mix of many instruments instead of just one musical theme, and there were tons of nice environmental mood-setting pieces as a result.
Not so lustrous without visual or musical accompaniment I know, but hopefully I can make up for that by sharing these obligatory family photos we took after the show.
Mostly trying our best to cover up the missing “S” on the Conservatory sign.
Extra shout out to the man who took our full group photo before taking a selfie of himself. Don’t know who you are, but you’re a real G.
Overall, I’d say I was really impressed with the show. Considering it involved 100+ high schoolers all meeting each other, learning 4-7 pieces each and practicing them over the span of two days, it was actually phenomenal how well-done all the music was.
If nothing else, I suppose this is proof of how great Aly’s going to be once she gets out into the workforce of quick turn-around performances!
After a relatively uneventful day, I got to spend the evening supporting the arts.
In what has become something of another annual tradition for the Rochlin family, we went down to El Segundo to support Aly’s friend Rhyan. She and her sister perform with the Haven Academy of the Arts, a Christian nonprofit that helps give kids and teens a chance to perform on stage.
This year’s musical was:
A classic by any other name just as sweet.
Because you know.
Romeo and Juliet. Just with more racism and dancing.
I’ve also seen the troupes performances of Seussical and Guys and Dolls. All and all I’d argue this was one of the weaker shows they’ve put on despite having some well-done choreography.
But I’m not here to review this show, because I feel like it would be in bad taste. Plus it’s not something that’s meant for critical acclaim so much as it is to support the kiddos.
Support the kiddos we did. Both with the buying of the tickets and with concessions.
If nothing else, these guys always have a solid spread of gifts to buy and snacks to eat. With all money apparently going to a scholarship fund that helps more kids afford the ability to take part.
That’s what the head lady said at least. I’m not getting paid to spread the word or anything, but what can I say. I like supporting the arts.
Don’t really have too much to add beyond that however. Just a nice, quiet night out at the theatre with my mom and sister. Figured it would make for a more interesting blog post than the adventures of me transcribing an interview again, which was what I did most of the rest of the day.
So hopefully you weren’t expecting anything super weighty and profound. Because the best I have to offer is a plead to do the same as us and go support local arts programs.
My last post about Fire Emblem Heroes was pretty negative honestly. I talked all about how tired I felt I was getting seeing things like Tempest Trials show up over and over, burning me out more each time without a substantial break in between.
However… This new banner of special heroes brought me right back from the brink of despair.
I’m not even overemphasizing things that much. Two nights ago when the trailer dropped showing off these four new units, I watched the video at least five times while sitting in the newsroom, waiting for corrections to come back on front page. I was excited to see who was added, I liked the look they were going for and I REALLY liked the music that went with the trailer – though I’ll get more into that later.
Hell, I was so excited about these heroes that even in the midst of a super exciting update to Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links with a billion giveaways to celebrate the launch of a GX-themed world, I still found myself thinking about Fire Emblem. Waiting impatiently for the update.
Now that it’s here, was it worth the wait?
Though everyone was expecting some sort of a Halloween-themed update to coincide with the beginning of October, instead we got a summoning banner themed around dancing and singing, featuring characters who do those things from Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates. Namely:
Dressed like she is during her special musical number in the Conquest route of Fates, Azura’s performer ensemble is an interesting departure from the norm in that she comes as an axe-wielder rather than a lance-wielder… Though she generally serves the same niche as her original counterpart. Her special axe Udor (with some weird accent over the ‘o’ that I can’t even start to imagine how to recreate) makes it so anyone she sings for also gains +3 to every stat. Frankly, that’s a crazy buff. She also comes with Triangle Adept to help take out other lances and a passive buff to ally resistance stats during combat, but I would argue the special axe overshadows everything else.
Clearly somewhat over his stage fright, Inigo is here in his pre-Laslow standing. Rather than coming in as a mercenary like we might expect, however, he’s fully embraced his dancing spirit and… Is a green mage. I’ll be honest, the green mage thing threw me off when I first saw it, but his Dancer’s Ring has the Breath of Life skill built in, so it’s pretty cool. I can’t complain about it, at least. He can also dance for allies and provide them +4 speed if he does, with a turn start buff to attack for adjacent allies as well.
Inigo’s mother Olivia is also making an appearance, wearing an outfit that’s as revealing as ever but comes with a super nice dark color scheme – I think it’s really nice, at least. Instead of bringing a sword for protection, she carries a weapon called the Dancer’s Fan: A colorless dagger that has a Breath of Life skill built in similar to Inigo’s weapon while also causing a -7 defense and resistance affliction to opponents. Seriously, if you like Inigo’s weapon, this one is above and beyond that, even if it trades off some power and has a physical rather than a magical attribute. She also grants +4 attack with her dance and has Distant Defense, a skill which adds defense and resistance during combat if she’s attacked from afar – something you’ll likely see often with a dagger weapon.
Azura’s son Shigure makes his first appearance in Fire Emblem Heroes, but comes in as a blue tome mage rather than a lance-wielding pegasus knight as he is in Fates. Though Shigure was admittedly never really my favorite child unit, it’s nice to see him appear, and the outfit he has to match Azura’s is quite pretty in its own right. His weapon, the Dancer’s Score, is essentially a blue version of Inigo’s Dancer’s Ring. On top of that, he grants +4 to a unit’s defense and resistance stats when he sings for them… Though his final skill only provides SP buffs to other blue tome users on your team. Probably useful for training, but not at all for combat.
From a purely mechanical standing, I love how each of these units come with skills that give their singing or dancing extra utility. I haven’t used a unit with an ability that lets units take a second turn, so the idea of finally getting the chance to do so with whatever extra benefits are brought about is exciting.
Though I also have to say that I think my favorite thing about the specific selection of characters for this banner is the fact that they went with a sweet Mother/Son dynamic with the singing and dancing duets. They do address it somewhat in the story for the paralogue, but just as an idea I think it’s a great little connection that I wouldn’t have thought to pull together until I saw it.
Plus, Inigo and Shigure are both technically brand new characters if you don’t count Laslow. They’re child characters too, which gives me some more hope of seeing some of my other favorite child characters from Awakening and Fates in the future.
Given my excitement for these heroes appearing, I prepared myself for the inevitable orb binge. Things have been storing up for a while, since I got everyone I wanted out of the Crimean Heroes banner a few weeks ago in fact, so that extra buffer finally had its chance to be useful.
It became a little event for me in fact, and as you can see from all of these summon pictures:
It was a big bust in the end. Up around 80 orbs more or less down the drain without anything to show for it. I didn’t quite blow everything as you can obviously see from the last image in the set above, but I’m generally not a fan of summoning when I have less than 20 orbs on-hand at least. That way I’m not screwed over if I happen to get five colored summoning choices I want to take on at once.
So, in the unfortunate melancholy of my failure to summon any of the performance heroes, I decided to jump over and see the paralogue for this special banner.
Even from the very beginning, this particular bit of story doesn’t go out of it’s way to distinguish itself as anything beyond filler for the sake of introducing cool alternate costumed characters.
There’s a bit of a joking air at the start as Anna sings Azura’s song, Lost in Thoughts All Alone (more or less the theme song of Fire Emblem Fates as a whole, for that matter). However, not much time is devoted to that before things go right down to business:
Get going you do, and as a result you find yourself in the grand canal-flooded opera house in Cyrkensia from Fire Emblem Fates, arguably one of the game’s most significant and popular locations.
Each of the three maps has you fighting at a different location within the Opera House, which frankly does make sense considering the sheer size of the place in the original game:
The actual fights on the maps aren’t particularly challenging in my opinion, though having to deal with 2 to 4 units that can all sing or dance to allow their partner a second opportunity to act is a bit of a pain for sure.
Arguably the biggest boon to these maps are how they look. Not only are things inherently interesting considering the special character outfits, but the setting makes for an aesthetically beautiful set piece both in and out of the battle screen.
However, no matter how nice these maps look and how much I enjoy the characters talking within them, in my opinion there is at least one majorly glaring issue with the new content.
Why is there no special music for the special banner about the performing arts?
That whole thing seems counterintuitive to me, honestly. As a matter of fact, I might even go so far as to say the lack of special music is a rather huge detriment to the update as a whole. It took away quite a bit of my initial hype to hear old music show up again for the three battles in the Opera House.
Don’t want to dwell too much on that however, as music issues aside there isn’t a lot of substance to go over in the story itself either. Each of the three maps starts with a small introduction to the characters that are going to be the focus in that fight, as you’d probably expect.
The first map has Inigo and Azura running into one another, with Inigo having to break away from his desire to hit on such a beautiful lady so they can stop you.
Why are they stopping you? Well… They think you’re intruding on the sanctity of the stage they’re performing on? I guess?
The motivations are a little weirdly specific this time around, I’ll be honest. Though props to the reference of Azura knowing Laslow, who is Inigo taking on a different name at some point the future.
The second map features Olivia and Shigure in a different part of the Opera House, more or less encountering your team under the same mysterious pretense that Azura and Inigo did.
Then finally, the third map features the two groups coming together to fight, dividing into Mother/Son combos of dancers and singers.
Interestingly enough, this part of the paralogue was the most interesting to me because it takes a small detour to delve into lore and character building for this dark-cloaked Azura.
It’s just interesting to me that they decide to talk about the implications of the story in Fates, messing with time by having Shigure appear to be from some canonical timeline that Azura has disappeared in while this special Azura is apparently from some other continuity. I suppose if it’s a subject they can mess with anywhere, Heroes is a good place to do so considering it’s predicated on the idea of drawing characters out from various timelines and dimensions or what have you, but it still seems to be a complicated thing to add just in the middle of another thing going on.
It’s also a little unbalanced in my head to see Inigo and Olivia have a happy little reunion while Shigure and Azura’s interactions are more seeped in sadness and angst… But at the same time that probably fits the characters we’re looking at pretty well. So who am I to complain?
Beyond that side note about Azura, however, there isn’t much else to talk about in regards to story. After you beat the four performers, they acknowledge they were wrong and offer to help you if you summon them later… But it just ends there. No extra banter from the Order of Heroes characters or anything. Just a one-and-done sort of deal.
Whether it was “kind” to come in and beat everyone up until they came to their senses is an argument we’ve yet to have extensively, but it’s a nice sentiment to end on either way.
The romp through Cyrkensia may have been overall uneventful, more of a filler ark like I said before, and the lack of special music continues to baffle me… But in the end it serves it’s overall purpose well.
That purpose being offering opportunity to earn extra orbs.
I decided to use those extra orbs I earned from the story missions for one last attempt at summoning. An attempt that had…
Very unexpected results. But certainly not results I’m interested in complaining about.
Got me a special Azura, baby!
With this special Azura comes a special personal distinction in that I’ve never had a good dancing/singing unit before to support my team with double action turns. Now I do, and although I’ve been finding that Azura might be a little too much of a glass cannon for my tastes, I’m still excited to make good use of her.
… Though I also won’t stop trying to get some of the others over the next month. Grinding the Tempest Trials out to the end will net me some extra chances to summon, and in particular I’m looking out for Olivia at this point. A good colorless is something that’s far more widely applicable.
But I digress, since beggars can’t be choosers and all that.
After all, it’s time for me to go get some more orbs and get my GX on. Don’t know whether I want to write a post about the GX world coming since I’ve already basically blown through all the first-time impressions… But I suppose if you’re interested in seeing that, let me know in the comments below.
In fact, if you have any opinions on the performing arts heroes, let me know that in the comments too!