Last updateFri, 22 Jun 2018 4am


Six Top Vocal Groups Perform Acapella at MU

Six Top Vocal Group AcapellaThe Center for the Arts at Monmouth University has announced that tickets are on sale for “Doo Wop Explosion II,” a March 4 concert event that showcases several generations of top vocal talent from Philadelphia, New Jersey, and NYC’s boroughs inside our flagship performance space, the Pollak Theatre.

A sequel to the first successful Doo Wop Explosion event in 2016, the Saturday evening serenade transforms the enhanced Pollak Theatre — a room that boasts nearly 700 new seats, improved sight lines, and a newly enlarged stage area — into a street corner from the old neighborhood. It’s that magical musical laboratory where the harmony-based vocal traditions of the urban African American communities coalesced into an exciting new sound in the postwar era; one that would soon come to be embraced by young audiences and performers of many different ethnic backgrounds.

More than anything else, the music known as “Doo Wop” draws its passionate power from the awesome glory of human voices working in perfect harmony. It is delivered acapella-style without benefit of instrumental accompaniment, and graces everything from the most heartbreaking love ballads and soaring songs of devotion, to the crazy rhythms of the wildest early rock and roll. More than mere artifacts from an oldies jukebox, the sounds of the great vocal soul groups continue to inform and inspire many of today’s top pop acts.

Headlining the powerhouse program of six premier groups will be Pookie Hudson’s Spaniels, inheritors of a legacy that began with their late colleague, Spaniels lead singer Pookie Hudson, and the signature swooner that defined the entire doo wop era, the 1956 million-seller “Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight.” Originating on the streets of Brooklyn, Vito & the Salutations scored regional hits in the early 1960’s with their recordings of “Gloria,” “Unchained Melody” and “Your Way.” Rick Anthony has been handling most of the group’s leads for the past 15 years, as the original Vito is no longer with them. The group also contains long time member, Shelly Buchansky, who sang on “Unchained Melody” and many of their other hits.

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MU’s Record Club Reviews Parallel Lines

MU Record Review Parallel Lines“If you don’t like something on this album, chances are you don’t like music,” said an audience member at the Feb. 7 Record Club review of Blondie’s Parallel Lines.

If you were to have wondered into Lauren K. Woods Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m., you would have found about 30 people gathered to discuss music. Monmouth’s Record Club invited the community to meet and discuss Blondie’s hit album, Parallel Lines. There were three panelists that lead the discussion that Tuesday night: Kenneth Womack, Ph.D., and Dean of the School of Humanities And Social Sciences; Michael Thomas, M.F.A., and Associate Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Nick Messina, Communication Instructor.

Blondie formed in 1974, but went rather unnoticed in the United States until Parallel Lines was released in 1978, according to Messina, who noted that this album was one of the most overlooked albums of the 70s.

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The CW’s new series Riverdale is a Game Changer

New Series RiverdaleThe tone of Riverdale, the new series from The CW based on the old-school Archie comics that premiered on Jan. 26, can be easily summarized in one quote from the first episode: “Game changer: Archie got hot!”

This breathless declaration perfectly encapsulates how this is not your childhood’s Archie Andrews, for better or worse. For fans of the original characters, or those just mildly familiar with the comics like myself, fair warning: this is not a faithful adaptation of the original works, but a CW-fied version of Archie and his pals. While these changes have some fun, inventive bright spots, the overall product in the first two episodes struggles to cohesively come together despite having some potential.

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Farewell, SURFING Magazine: A Questionable Future for Print

Farewell Surfing MagazineAfter more than 50 years of publication, SURFING magazine has been put to rest.

According to the Ocean County Business Journal, on Jan. 23 of this year, The Enthusiast Network (TEN) announced it would be disbanding SURFING Magazine. TEN plans to reallocate the deceased magazine’s resources into the network’s sole surf publication, SURFER magazine.

“I was actually pretty bummed when SURFING mag shut down. I’ve been getting that magazine in the mail every month for ten years so it’s a little surreal,” said junior English student John Waldron.

In an article on Surfline.com, the author underscores SURFING’s importance for surf culture. “They [SURFING] were a voice for the youth, the punks, the innovators. The place to go for a fix of no-bullshit surf clips, an outlet for the ‘core’ surfer.”

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A Recap of the 2017 Grammy Award Show

Recap Grammy Awards 2017There were so many things about this year’s 2017 Grammy Awards that made it interesting for both positive and negative reasons. We went through a roller coaster of emotions from artist to artist; it was certainly a sight to see.

The Grammy’s took place this year on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. There were several highlights of the evening, but the most notable was possible Adele’s acceptance speech after winning the category, Album of the Year. The other artists that were up for nomination in this category were Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Drake, and Sturgill Simpson. Adele won for her newest album 25. Once she got on stage, she immediately started crying. She told the audience about the last time she was there it was five years ago and she was pregnant, and she has had some struggles since then but has now pushed through them and created 25.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor Visits Red Bank

Red Bank Merry Wives of WindsorShakespeare’s farcical comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor will be coming to Two River Theater in Red Bank, and what better way to introduce this production than with free play readings? On Feb. 13 at 7 p.m., the cast of The Merry Wives of Windsor will be doing an open rehearsal for the upcoming play. Along with that, there will be a play reading group led by Two River Theater’s artistic director, John Dias, on the nights of Feb. 27 and March 6 at 7 p.m. If you attend, you will receive a sneak peek of what is happening behind the scenes of this delightful comedy; scheduled performances this season begin Feb. 25. These free events that will usher in The Merry Wives of Windsor production would be beneficial to high school or college students, adults and children alike, and here is why:

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Girl Power At It’s Finest: SweetSexySavage

Girl Power Sweet Sexy SavageOn Jan. 27, Kehlani Parrish dropped her first full length studio album. For fans that have been following her since her appearance on America’s Got Talent in 2011 with girl group, PopLyfe, they know that this has been a long time coming. A lot has been accomplished since then and Kehlani was even nominated for a Grammy for her mixtape “You Should Be Here,” despite the fact that it was a free mixtape on SoundCloud. She was also featured on the Emmy- nominated Suicide Squad soundtrack with her song, “Gangsta.” So it’s incredible to see how much she accomplished before she even had an album out.

If this album isn’t beautifully feminine, honest, nostalgic, empowering, old school and real R&B, then I don’t know what is. As a female listening to these songs, they make me unapologetically proud to be a woman. “Intro” is a poem read by Reyna Biddy and she refers to herself as a “superwoman,” “angry woman” and “crazy woman.” Perfectly describing the several layers that comes with being a woman which is what this record is all about.

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Lady Gaga Steals the Halftime Show

Lady Gaga Halftime ShowOn Sunday, Feb. 5, something epic happened, and I’m not talking about the close game between the Patriots and Falcons. Lady Gaga had one of the best halftime shows in a while. Jeffrey from the 102.7 Morning Show said on Monday morning, “The best moment in history happened for 13 minutes at the halftime show last night!” Lady Gaga is the first solo act to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show since Paul McCartney in 2005.

Lady Gaga began her performance on top of NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, with a patriotic medley that consisted of “God Bless America” and Woody Gunthrie’s popular protest song, “This Land is Your Land.” Then, Gaga uttered the words, “…and justice for all” from our pledge of allegiance with such genuineness and grace.

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A Monster Calls is a Must See

Watch A Monster Calls Let’s just get right down to it. A Monster Calls, directed by J. A. Bayona, was the most under-looked, under-discussed hidden gem of the year. It is the one of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching films that has been released in the last decade. Yes, this is a fairly heavy statement, but to me, there is nothing about this film that was less than absolutely stunning. From the production, acting, and animation, to the genuine emotions it evokes from audiences all across the nation, A Monster Calls is the film you may never have heard of, but is certainly one that you should watch immediately. Without a doubt in my mind, it is going to hold a prime position in the coming of age genre for years to come.

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Hurricane Diane Wins The Crowd Over

The eccentric new play HurricaneDiane opened Jan. 27 at Two River Theater and I had the pleasure of seeing it performed for the first time. Theater is an immersive experience that awakens an audience and asks them to trust where the director, actors, scenes, and story line take them. This play makes you think past the existential experiences that shape human behavior in the funniest possible way, of course.

Playwright Madeleine George weaves together a satirical, yet enlightening play about the discord between humans and planet Earth. The show draws inspiration from The Bacchae, which is the Greek story of how Dionysus seeks revenge on those that openly defied her power as a god. Diane (Becca Blackwell) is the contemporary version of Dionysus who seeks to bring carnage while she poses as a gardener with experience in permaculture. Diane coaxed her way into the lives of four women living in a quiet cul-de-sac in Red Bank, which makes this play endearingly familiar. The setting is not a complete replica of Red Bank, but the sights and smells of Delfini’s, a restaurant in the area can be envisioned in this play and that is a reminder of the Monmouth County community.

The four women who form this quatrain of something resembling Desperate Housewives is entertaining because they are all best friends that nag each other, yet love each other. They gossip regularly and drink coffee or wine together in their kitchens. Throughout the play this demonstrates how close knit they are as they interact with Diane. Sandy (Mia Barron) is an HGTV enthusiast who is immediately skeptical of Diane’s motives. Meanwhile others like Renee (Nikiya Mathis) and Beth (Kate Wetherhead) are attracted to Diane and see her as this inspiration for creativity. Pam (Danielle Skraastad) is the feisty, Italian-American that does not trust Diane whatsoever, but the string of clichés is what makes her character one of the stand-outs. From her many Italian hand gestures whenever she talks to the offense she takes when Diane admitted that she has never been to Delfini’s. The dialogue is captured intuitively by the actors that play the four women whom Diane ends up recruiting as her followers to take revenge on the way humans are destroying nature. There is a natural banter between the cast and the comedic timing or innuendos synchronizes with the affability of Diane’s personality since she is the source of all this ensuing chaos.

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Hidden Figures is an Excellent Discovery

“Every time we get a chance to get ahead, they move the finish line,” said the fiery Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) in the recently released Hidden Figures. This quote and more is what makes the film so poignant: even an early 1960s set story is still strikingly relevant today, for better or worse. Hidden Figures is a heartfelt, sometimes corny, but always inspiring story that is finally getting its opportunity to be told.

Directed and written by Theodore Melfi, and based off the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, the plot follows the little known true story of three brilliant, female, African American mathematicians: shy Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), determined Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and outspoken Mary Jackson. The three friends attempt to move up the ranks at NASA, while the contentious Space Race between the United States and Russia barrels on, as does the continuing discrimination against not only African Americans, but women.

Katherine faces doubt at her new post in the almost all white and all male Flight Research Division, Dorothy struggles to be promoted to supervisor while also facing losing her job due to new technology, and Mary must confront the courts while also trying to become the first black engineer at NASA. Melfi, writer and director of the 2014 film starring Bill Murray, St. Vincent, knows how to craft a briskly paced, entertaining film. He has the benefit of three well-written storylines composed of fascinating characters at his disposable, and moves between them gracefully. The film is also shot beautifully, with grand scenes from the NASA campus in Virginia to the woman’s humble homes in suburbia.

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Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu