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Matthews Theatre, in the McCarter complex, transforms into a haunted playground for humans and monsters alike. There is no telling who or what might suddenly leap from a balcony or crawl out from under the floor. Unsuspecting audience members may be thrust into the spotlight. But most unsettling is the way the lines blur between human and monster and between reality and nightmare in Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of “Frankenstein.”
Perusing the galleries of an art museum, we often view artworks as portals into history. Less often do we contemplate the history of the physical piece in front of us. What we see is often enhanced by the quiet yet immensely difficult work of art conservators. On May 2, Princeton University Art Museum’s conservator, Bart J.C. Devolder, delivered this year’s Friends Annual Mary Pitcairn Keating Lecture: “A New Day for Art Conservation at the Art Museum.” During his talk, Devolder outlined the past, present, and future of conservation at the museum, shedding light on his own role in this trajectory.
diSiac Dance Company opened its spring show with dancers moving in semi-darkness to the understated beat of Jaden Smith’s “Ghost.” The production played off of the strength of simplicity, beginning with marketing that got straight to the point about how good the group really is: “drip” was this season’s theme. No other narrative or overarching topic was needed to bind together the whole production as it sped by.
A young woman slow dances with a phantom in a haunted hotel. Two shy ghosts try futilely to scare away the living intruders in their home. A sinister love potion sends a honeymoon into disarray. Más Flow’s ¡Qué Horror! took its theme in every conceivable direction, attempting to balance steaminess, humor, and pain along the way.
Questlove reclined comfortably in his seat on the McCarter Theatre’s stage on Friday evening. He is an artist who can feel at home in any space, and his multifaceted career is a testament to this ease. Questlove, who initially earned fame as the drummer for his band The Roots, has since explored everything from music production to writing to the culinary arts. Fittingly, McCarter advertised his visit as, “Living a Creative Life: A Conversation between Questlove and Imani Perry.” Questlove’s whole life appears concerned with conversation: an experiential back-and-forth. Onstage, he never skated around a question, but listened and responded earnestly. Questlove accepted a hefty honorary degree from the University’s Class of 2019 on Friday night, but his gift to the audience was refreshingly intangible.
Theatre Intime’s lights dim, and a group of dancers gathers onstage to scream “Body, body, hype, hype!” into the silence. BodyHype Dance Company began its fall semester show, Fahrenheit, with the heat turned up — but made sure to let us know it can also cool things down.
Things have intensified since the cruise from the Black Arts Company (BAC)’s “On Deck” last fall. In “Stranded,” flight attendants go rogue. Kicking off the show with a crash, BAC performed with supreme confidence and humor to a full house on Saturday night. Few things generate more hype and support on campus than dance shows, and it comes as no surprise that BAC held audiences’ attention for a five-show run this weekend.
A nontraditionally cast and smoothly executed production of “Legally Blonde” enjoyed a five-night run this November at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. “Legally Blonde” has held audiences’ attention over the years through its smart combination of outrageous pettiness and superficiality with a feminist storyline: A young woman named Elle Woods learns to find identity within herself and through sisterhood, instead of seeking validation from men. But in casting a woman of color, Jasmeene Burton ’19, as the show’s blonde lead, director Tamia Goodman ’19 prompts the audience to think more broadly about journeys of self-discovery.
This past weekend, Triangle Club’s fall show, “Night of the Laughing Dead,” transformed McCarter Theatre into the Doancomb Inn: a haunted hotel to satisfy the belated need for Halloween “spookitude” you didn’t know you had. Among the delightful clichés of cobwebs and Michael Jackson, the show does not shy away from the truly frightful. The thesis: “Journalism is Dead!” But as the world of journalism is overtaken by the undead, the real question becomes: are ghosts real?
For many Princeton students, one of the few bright spots of the midterms slog is planning themed Princetoween costumes, events, and decor with friends. While Princeton’s premature Halloween festivities bring together a student body emerging from many days of library hibernation, an offensive theme choice can do just the opposite. Often the University emails a cultural sensitivity reminder at this time of year, although such reminders sometimes skirt around the words “cultural appropriation.”
Nothing makes a new year first feel real quite like a trip from Labyrinth, feeling the weight of the semester’s responsibilities literally settle on my shoulders. By the end of my freshman year, the initial thrill and motivation of receiving my first coursebooks had dried up — I didn’t totally feel I was learning for myself anymore. At Princeton, we all need ways of reminding ourselves why we do what we do, and, even more so, why we love it. As an English/humanities student, it’s easy to make a chore out of something that’s given me joy my whole life — reading.
I settled into my balcony seat at McCarter Theater Saturday night on the promise of “a joyous musical celebration,” and “Crowns” delivered in unexpected ways. The musical, which features an entirely black cast, opens with the main character, Yolanda, rapping about her neighborhood of Englewood, Chicago — a home she had been ripped away from following the death of her brother, Teddy. Yolanda’s hip-hop expression starkly differentiates her from the gospel music of her old-fashioned, Southern, church-going, hat-bearing grandmother named Mother Shaw, with whom she reluctantly moves in. As the two painstakingly overcome the gulf between them, their modes of musical expression gradually converge in a way that can only be described as “joyous.” Bringing hip-hop into this reimagined version of an early-2000’s McCarter Theatre hit keeps the story rich, contemporary, and sharp.