Posted in 2015-2016, Culture

Getting Help and Getting Better

by Alanna Anderson

Depression, ADHD, failing a class, a mood disorder, an aspect of your life that is affecting your self esteem. What do these all have in common? Well, they’re all things that you can get help for. The ways that you receive help for these could vary, but there are options available to help you deal with them more productively. A lot of people will avoid help because they think that it makes them strong, or they have to deal with it on their own, or they’re afraid of becoming reliant on the method that is making them better. On the contrary, getting help does not mean you’re weak; getting help is what will help you face these problems more effectively.  

One of the first ways to encourage yourself to get help is knowing that you really are not alone. A lot of the time when people say this it comes off as patronizing and it can easily be taken the wrong way, but listen to this:  “As many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression.”(1) Pair that with the fact that “in 2015 the amount of students that were estimated to be entering into the 9th grade in a public high school was 4.1 billion.” I took the liberty of doing the math for you instead of leaving you to do it by yourself. There are around 512,500,000 adolescents in America that have depression. These 512,500,000 individuals could be going through a version of what you are going through and unless they tell you, you may not even know. So when I say that you aren’t alone, I mean that there are other people who are experiencing something similar to what you are. That doesn’t discredit your emotions or make them irrelevant, it just means that there are people out there who can relate to your struggles in some sense and can honestly say that they have been through hard and draining times too.

“Don’t let society hold you back from believing in yourself and having the confidence to seek out what makes you happy and healthy.”

A second way that I hope that I can encourage you is letting you know that you shouldn’t allow someone to discredit your feelings when you have a serious issue. What you consider a serious concern for yourself doesn’t just have to be something that a doctor can diagnose, a serious concern could also be in reference to things like your confidence and body-image. You may look down on yourself for a feature that you feel very negatively about. Maybe it’s something that you were born with (like hair color, skin color, biological gender, your nose, face shape, etc.), or maybe it’s something that you developed overtime or noticed as you got older (like acne, difficulty with school, social awkwardness, a bad habit, etc.) There is definitely help for these things, but pinpointing and acknowledging the issue is hard because it can feel like you’re admitting to having a weakness. But acknowledging a quality of yourself that you dislike can help you get on the path of seeking out a solution to it in a healthy manner, and in a manner that keeps your respect for yourself prevalent.

Society puts a lot of pressure on people to be skinny, hold certain beauty standards, get the highest test scores, abide by ‘gender roles,’ and to be a superhuman in a world filled with people who are obviously not that. These expectations are draining and damaging to people whether they are trying to fit inside of that mold or not. What doesn’t help the situation of overwhelming expectations is the bad habit that a lot of people have with comparing themselves to others.

You look over at someone’s paper and see that they have a higher score even though they are bragging about not putting effort into it. You study your butt off for a test and the slacker in class still seems to know everything by looking at it once. Or maybe you’re on the other side of this situation. You have to lie about how much effort you put into a paper just so your classmates don’t know how much frustration it put you through. You pretend to be the slacker in the class when in reality you sneak in study sessions whenever you can.


These expectations can be toxic and detrimental to overall health and they stop people from getting treatment because they believe that the majority of society will look down on them. “About six million people are affected by late life depression, but only 10% ever receive treatment.”(3) “Over 80% of the people that have symptoms of clinical depression are not receiving any specific treatment for their depression.”(4) Not only that, but “the number of patients diagnosed with depression increases by approximately 20% each year.”(5) Hopefully by seeing these statistics and data you will know that there are others out there who are also wary of seeking help. Even without our common knowledge there are so many of us who need to know that we’re not alone.

The issue can start small, like eating a little less each day, until you are more concerned with the idea of holding off on eating than the idea of being healthy. I’m not suggesting that one random missed meal is a sign of an eating disorder, but there are very relevant signs to pay attention to that could mean that something is wrong. Even if you aren’t able to get in contact with a doctor soon, contacting a professional is still preferable over self-diagnosing. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a doctor right away it’s still a good idea to have someone that you can express your feelings to in the meantime. If it’s not a family member or a friend, there are support groups that meet up physically and online. For people who need a safe place, these can be havens. Just keep in mind that doctors are here to help and that they can provide you with things, like medication and therapy, that those support groups will not be able to.

You must also keep in mind that while friends and family can be great sources of comfort, they will not be able to help you the way that a professional will be able to. While support is good, certain issues require professional care. A good idea for meeting with a doctor is to have some sort of plan in your head of what you’re going to tell them about your symptoms so that you are prepared to explain your situation in a more clear and organized way. Being prepared takes a lot of stress out of the situation and can make the healing process easier for you.

The point of seeking heimageslp is for you to attempt to take back some of your peace and happiness.  Treatment is not an overnight answer, but “up to 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms generally within four to six weeks of beginning medication, psychotherapy, attending support groups or a combination of these treatments.”(6)

Even if the issue in your life isn’t depression, there are still ways that you can improve your situation. If you’re worried about a grade in a class you’re currently taking, you don’t need to worry about looking dumb by seeking help for that class because by doing so you are improving yourself.  If you think that you have a problem regarding weight, be willing to fix it healthily and don’t worry about how others will react. Don’t let stereotypes about your geographical locati
on, subculture, race, or your personal insecurities hold you back, be willing to improve yourself so that you can feel a sense of personal achievement in knowing that you helped yourself.

A lot of the issues in our life can seem like they’re never going to go away, that you’re helpless against them, and that there is no solution, but you would be surprised at what is available to you to aid in your process of healing. Don’t let society hold you back from believing in yourself and having the confidence to seek out what makes you happy and healthy. Remember, when it comes down to it, you are the one who is going to have to wake up every morning as yourself, not classmates, not people on the internet, or any other members of society. You are the person who can help yourself the most. Stay healthy, stay confident, stay woke. Adios.

Thank you to DBSA for helping people with disorders and for being a reliable resource for spreading awareness to those who are less knowledgeable about these disorders!

Sources (by order of appearance)
1(Center for Mental Health Services, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1996)
2(National Center for Education Statistics)
3(Brown University Long Term Care Quarterly, 1997)
6(National Institute of Health, 1998)

Alanna Anderson in a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram


Posted in 2015-2016, Arts

Symptoms of Love and Addiction

By Kellie-Ann Morris

Nausea (known to me as butterflies),
shortness of breath,
sweaty palms (that you never mind holding),
and an accelerated heartbeat.

These are defined as symptoms of love,
but they are also signs of a panic attack.
I find that quite fitting
since I’m terrified of loving you.

While I’ve always admired the view
of firework kisses
and star crossed lovers
who find each other despite the darkness,

That’s not the life I desire
for sparks only last a minute.
True love kisses are deadly
and I don’t want to become another tragedy

Insomnia (losing sleep with the idea of losing you),
neglecting other responsibilities,
risk taking (always in alleys after midnight),
and obsession.

These are defined as symptoms of infatuation
but they are also signs of addiction,
and I don’t think I could handle
if you withdrew.

I never wanted the space between
your arms to feel like home
cause if you evict me
I won’t remember how to support myself.

The way I mourn the loss of your touch
and count down the seconds till you’ll return
proves that I’m already
hooked on the drug called love.


Kellie-Ann Morris is a Freshman at Barbara Ingram

Posted in 2015-2016, Lifestyle

I Should Have Kissed You Longer

By Sara Ritchey

We were seven when you sang “Happy Birthday” to me all by yourself, holding a purple balloon in your left hand and my pinky in your right. The sky turned foggy, so we released the balloon and you accidentally let go of my finger. You apologized after I slipped my hand back into my pocket. You didn’t mean to break your promise, and I knew that I could trust you.

We were nine when you asked me if I wanted to go to the park with you and your family. I tried to impress you by doing the monkey bars all by myself, but I landed on my stomach, but your mother and father didn’t seem to notice. You rubbed my back gently and I realized that even after I caught my breath, I couldn’t help but lose it again when I looked at you.

We were twelve when you started skipping class. I left notes in your locker during study hall. They were filled with poetry and things that made you smile, because you said you liked how I could turn my thoughts into words. I always told you how much I loved to see you smile — I’d do anything to make it show. You grabbed my wrist softly and told me to stop worrying. You told me that you were okay. I tried not to worry, but when I hugged you, you smelled like smoke and too much cologne. It was hard not to worry when I saw you hiding away your pack of cigarettes when we came in from lunch.

We were thirteen when you kissed me in the back of your parents’ car the night it broke down. Your parents were in the gas station, and I watched your eyes from the seat next to me and they seemed to lighten, from a dark sky to a subtle ocean. You put your hand on my thigh and told me you loved me. We were sitting at that damn gas station for over two hours, but I couldn’t seem to bring myself to say it back. I wanted to. I swear, I wanted to.

We were fourteen when I had to visit you pale-faced and breathless. I never got to tell you how proud of you I was, or how I regretted not hugging you longer; not loving you longer. I didn’t know that kissing you goodnight translated to a final goodbye. I didn’t know that touching your chest meant feeling your heartbeat pitter-patter for the last time. I didn’t know that when I failed to say I love you, I would never get the chance to say it again. I should have loved you a little longer.


Sara Ritchey is a Freshman at Barbara Ingram 

Posted in 2015-2016, Culture

How to Make a Goth Fall in Love (In Just Seven Dismal Steps!)

A response to How to Make a Hipster Fall in Love (Ironically)

By Amelia Lowry

There’s two days ‘til Valentine’s Day, and many people still find themselves alone. After all, it takes time to find someone who you would like to spend all your time with. Goths have it even worse — a dying breed (inside and out), they find it hard to find the right person whose soul is theirs for the taking. Goths tend to have considerable trouble pulling someone icy enough for their liking, because not only do they need a person to spend all of their waking moments with, but someone to share all of their dead moments, as well.

That being said, if you’re a lonely goth looking for some quick love, keep reading for our list of seven ways to find love for this Valentine’s holiday!


Step 1: Look your best.

This piece of advice is older than time itself. You’ve got to look neat to get the meat! If you walk around looking perky, well-presented, clean, and pleasant, you’ll never get a date. So, stay awake for days at a time to get those succulent, puffy bags under your eyes, and don’t forget to rub charcoal eyeliner all around for that I-didn’t-wake-up-like-this-because-I-never-went-to-bed look.


Step 2: Smell your best.

Do you think the Bride of Frankenstein got her man by smelling like roses? I don’t think so! If you ghouls really just wanna have fun, you have to start by smelling the part. For that delightful, unshakeable scent of death, our style specialists at Forever Seventeen Magazine suggests that you dab the fresh blood of a parakeet behind your ears. If it’s overwhelming sadness that you wish to emit, bathe in the salty tears of a new widow. (Extra points if you widow her yourself!)


Step 3: Are you goth enough?

The last thing you want to do is be mistaken for an emo by a potential mate! Because, let’s face it — emos and goths are very different. Emos wear color sometimes.

It is essential when entering a relationship that you know who you are, and it’s even more important to know who you’re representing. Who cares if you’ve only ever read the Harry Potter series? Your favorite author is Poe. It doesn’t matter if you listen to some goofy hipster band when no one else can hear you. What matters is that you say your favorite band is Evanescence. Got it? Good.


Step 4: Find your one and lonely!

How are you going to find that unspecial someone unless you go out and just get ‘er done? Try walking down the street, and instead of creeping along the wall like you normally do, step boldly, and glare at everyone you see. Your ultimate goal is to find a timeless lover, so it is vital that you scare away the weak-hearted. Glare, stomp, hiss, bark — whatever you feel encapsulates you as a person.


Step 5: Give them your number!

Surely, you’ve attracted some attention from hissing and barking at passers-by. Now all that’s left is to seek out your life/after-life partner! At this point in the game, it is perfectly acceptable to groan at them in all six of your inside voices! If they are truly meant to be with you, they will understand. Should they pass all of these tests, the next step is to give them your number. Although, if they are still alive, we suggest that you ask their permission before etching your number onto them for eternity. The living ones tend not to like that.


Step 6: Take them on a date.

Chances are that you probably have a couple Marylin Manson concert tickets lying around. This could make for a fun date! You two could “accidentally” knock heads while headbanging, or have a deep discussion on the different shades of black. If you already used your Manson tickets, and if you’re in the mood for a particularly steamy evening, light a couple candles and break out the records — you can play them backwards together and hear your true calling.

A trip to the cemetery is always a gloomy, tomby adventure– perfect for you and your new girlfriend/victim/boyfriend. Picnics, rituals, grave-digging, making your funeral plans; there is so much to do and so little time!


Step 7: Take them to meet your family.

You’ve finally found the person or creature that you intend on spending infinity with, and more importantly, Valentine’s Day. As per custom, it is essential that this creature meet the people that raised you. Your mummy might unravel slightly at the sight of her little monster growing up, but that’s to be expected. When taking your lover on a tour of the house, your parents might tell you to keep your coffin door open, but they just like to embarrass you because they love you with such intensity that it feels like they loathe you.

At Forever Seventeen Magazine, we guarantee that there’s someone or something out there just for you. There’s no reason to be lonely this Valentine’s Day. Follow these seven, simple steps and we promise that you’ll have someone to love in no time!

Amelia Lowry is a sophomore at Barbara Ingram

Posted in 2015-2016, Culture

How to Make a Hipster Fall in Love (Ironically)

By Kaitlin Gertz

As we enter the month of February, Valentine’s Day approaches. Every store seems to have ushered in an aisle of anything red and pink and dipped in chocolate. There are commercials on every TV that sell rose bouquets, lacy lingerie, and the feeling that you’re inadequate if you’re not in a relationship. Children exchange cheap pharmacy-store valentines with cheesy sayings. Nobody seems concerned with the fact that Cupid is a businessman, taking money instead of giving love. However, if you’re above the capitalistic-consumerism holiday, there are still some things you can do with your Instagram-met honey.

You and your date can start by ditching a box of chocolates for a seven dollar cup of coffee in that little cafe you’ve been
dying to try out ever since nobody started talking about it. Of course, it’s organic and vegan, but feel free to wear a t shirt that says “Cannibal” ironically. You can assure your date that you didn’t even get it at Urban Outfitters — Goodwill is so much more “authentic.” And when Mac Demarco starts playing, talk about some of his earlier work. Your date will be very impressed.


Or maybe you’re more of a nature person. Going hiking is a great idea: it’s free, you can show off your organic granola-making skills, and show off a flannel out of your extensive collection. Bring along an extra just in case your date gets chilly. Make sure to take a lot of pictures to post on Instagram, too. Better yet, bring a Polaroid and then upload the pictures to Instagram for added effect. Talk about your plans to grow a GMO-free garden, if only your place in Greenwich Village had a backyard. Want some brownie points? Point at flowers and compare them to your date. Or even compare your date to a Sylvia Plath poem.

If you’re into poetry, that local organic coffee shop probably has a poetry slam going on some night. Dazzle your darling with your poetic skills. Compare them to a flower again (but this time, as a simile). With every couplet, they’ll be even more into the idea of you two as a couple. You can even quote John Green — but, of course, only ironically.

Maybe poetry’s not exactly your thing. Of course, you can still show your date a great time in an artistic setting. Buy some tickets to the latest (or earliest) indie band, or maybe even a music festival. Amidst the seas of people bearing sailor and pin-up girl tattoos, look for the merch table and get your honey a record. Whether it will be used as a wall decoration or listened to while discussing the legalization of marijuana, it will always be a reminder of the fun date you had together.

b0cb15df6571971afda63fe309342c92Perhaps the easiest date is one that requires little money and no preparation: a trip to your local Goodwill to try on all the vintage and authentic clothes you can find. Wear those dad jeans with pride. Try and match a turtleneck with your cat-eye glasses. Most importantly, tell your date how cute they look in everything (because they really do). Watch them enjoy themselves as they spend one of the best dates they’ve ever had with you.

After all, you don’t need a big corporate chocolate brand to sponsor your meal, or a generic poem written by someone at Hallmark. You don’t need to buy them expensive lingerie or even an expensive gift. The only thing needed is to tell them about the two different types of love: the one you have for t-shirts labelled “This is a t-shirt” (ironic) and the one you have for them (sincere).

Kaity Gertz is a sophomore at Barbara Ingram.

Posted in 2015-2016, Entertainment

‘Deadpool’ Sets Itself Apart With Ultra Violence and Unique Humanity

By Joshua Geblein

Deadpool is the crude/bloody/violent/revengeful love story of Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool). This latest Marvel Franchise stars Ryan Reynolds as the “Merc with a mouth.” He is very crude, and very “hot.” Wade is diagnosed with cancer, and as a way to stay alive for the girl he loves, Vanessa, he lets scientists turn him into a superhero. However, after things go south, Wade is out for revenge as Deadpool, and won’t stop until he is returned to his original state.

If you are like me, you don’t really read Marvel’s comics, you just sit through their typical two-and-a-half hour action flick, with some really cool action figures, a pretty unbelievable plot that always ends the same way, and a villain that is almost indestructible until the last five minutes because, heck, it’s Marvel and they can do stuff like that. However, this is the Marvel movie that disrupted the formula.

Deadpool is violent. No more Pg-13 crap. No more only the hero can seriously injure his enemy. Deadpool is R-rated (don’t even try to sneak in without an adult, kids), immediately setting it apart; even the opening credits are hilarious and bloody, which real action fans will love.

Deadpool is uproarious. The comedy in this movie is perfect. It makes fun of other movies, it makes fun of real people, it makes fun of actors, and the best part is it makes fun of itself and Ryan Reynolds. It is filled with crude, self-deprecating, offensive, and genuinely funny comedy.

Behind all the bullet holes, severed limbs, foul language, and raucous humor, Deadpool is actually a really interesting love story. Wade Wilson is in love with Vanessa, a former exotic dancer, and when the people that turned Wade into the ugly, monstrous-looking Deadpool kidnap his girl, the story becomes surprisingly romantic. I was shocked at how much this movie actually emotionally hooked me in. I felt the pain Wade feels, and the anger Vanessa feels. Again, this breaks from the typical template for comic book movies which don’t engage the viewer in more than a superficially sympathetic way. We’re forced to engage with them empathetically. At one point, Deadpool is in tears, crying in secret, while his girlfriend sleeps near him.

Another unique way this movie separates itself, is through the main villain, Ajax, a mutant who, despite his super power, seems very human. This allows an audience to connect emotionally, as opposed to the robot Ultron in Avengers II: Age of Ultron. Ajax was strong as a villain not because of his power but because of his psychologically disturbing character and dialogue. He wasn’t all that powerful, but he was the perfect villain for Deadpool because the conflict wasn’t about physical clashes as much as it was about getting under each other’s skin, and pushing each other to the edge.

Deadpool truly sets itself apart. But what else would you expect from a movie about a character who breaks the fourth wall and knows just that: he is a character.

Joshua Geblein is a senior vocal student at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. He will be attending Belmont University in Nashville to study film after he graduates.

Posted in 2015-2016, Travel

Pretzel and Pizza Creations: A Review

By Dario DiBattista

The new Pretzel and Pizza Creations, just opened up in December in Hagerstown, is already a well-patronized spot, owing most likely to its sterling and widespread reputation emanating from its original and popular Frederick location. I know it’s busy because I work as a creative writing teacher on the 4th Floor of the Grand, and walk by the location in the same building many times a day.

As a recently expatriated native Baltimorean, and outsider to the western Maryland dining scene, I was looking forward to my first visit. One student stoked this excitement by saying, “I’m really jealous of you. I wish I could relive my first experience there.” I found my experience to be a mixed one: Pleasant and bitter; sweet and subpar.

A photo posted by Pretzel And Pizza Creations (@pretzelandpizza) on Instagram

Upon entering I noticed the interior: contemporary and somewhat reminiscent of the Hagerstown area with very high ceilings, a plethora of open space, bench seats, and brick walls.

The focal point of the interior was a large bar that was overshadowed by impressively towering shelves held up by welded piping. Very cool, but, some of the decor was straight Wal-Mart home section tacky, as exemplified by “I drink coffee for your protection” knick-knacks and “Go ahead and wine a little” signs. Ugh. The copper wrapping around the draft pours, though, was straight up cool — and then Creed came on over the speakers. Womp wah. My sacrifice.

Service was helpful, but bordered on annoyingly — I was checked on a lot but not offered any perspective or knowledge regarding the menu.

My first two courses – parmesan and spices soft-baked pretzel ($2.59) and chocolate chip and bacon signature stuffed pretzel ($4.09) — arrived in a mostly timely manner. Probably owing up to the place being a new operation, though, myself and the guests beside me didn’t have the correct accompaniments brought out.

The bacon chocolate pretzel tasted okay with an interesting contrast of salty and sweet, but the pretzel itself was dry and chewy. I wish I’d added the free butter topping, but dishes should be able to stand on their own. The parmesan and spices pretzel was even more dry and chewy, and, fairly, closer to room temperature than warm. I dipped it in the watery marinara and was happy to put it away when my rushed second course arrived. I craved Auntie Anne’s suddenly. I shouldn’t be thinking about any other pretzel place. 

The five meat combo ($9.99 / $15.33 – who comes up with these prices?) stood as the highlight to my meal, with a crispy soft crust enclosing a nice layering of pepperoni, ham, turkey, roast beef, and corned beef. The very tender corned beef stood out as the most prominent flavor underneath the parmesan garlic butter crust and lazed under some gooey provolone. Nice.

(Menu dessert items were not available at the time of my visit, but will be coming soon.)

So that’s my appraisal. But you certainly don’t have to listen to me. I’m only slightly better than your average Yelp! Reviewer.

Rating: Two and a Half Stars
Where: 20 West Washington Street, Hagerstown, MD
Contact: 301-694-9299,
Open: Mondays through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m; Fridays and Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers $6-$7; other courses, entrees $8-$36
Noise/TVs: Mildly noisy. Bar features TVs.
Service: Attentive, and engaged.
Parking: Street and nearby garages.

Dario DiBattista is a creative writing teacher at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. He also moonlights as a restaurateur in Baltimore, recently helping to open up the city’s top-rated Latin restaurant, Alma Latina Cocina.

Posted in 2015-2016, Travel

J&M Grill – Homely Meals


By Katherine Napier

Tucked in between two townhouses, at 816 South Potomac Street, Hagerstown, MD lies a tiny restaurant that feels just like you’re at home, the women who work there are some of the sweetest people you will meet, and there’s only five of them who run the whole joint. The harbor blue of the house pulls your attention as you drive. You pull over and walk up the door and see a sign, “No checks or cards. Please use cash.” You check your wallet and see some cash, enough for breakfast on a Saturday morning.

You are in the most horrid mood, and as soon as you walk in there, you feel like a kid again with the smell of the bacon grease and fresh toast. You can watch the food be made Antique items hang on the walls above the tables where groups and families gather for an amazing home-cooked meal. Original Cracker Jack boxes, vintage saws and signs, and a multitude of other elderly objects hang above the heads of the people who come in and support this small business. You sit down at the bar in between two older men who are enjoying their pancakes and coffee. The one to your left turns to you and offer to buy your meal simply because they see you aren’t in the best of moods. You accept and once you tell the waitress your order, the man pays for it right before he leaves.

You see another man, in his early 40s, walk in and he sits next to you. They smile at him and immediately give him his coffee — three creamers and six packets of sugar. He nods and thanks them by name. They say, “No problem, dear.” which makes you wonder if he’s a regular. Then they ask if he wants the normal and he chuckles, saying, “You know me too well.” You look up at the menu and see it is one from way before your time, with the white letters unorganized and crooked telling you what each item is and how much it costs. There’s whiteboard next to that that says “Specials!” The two pancakes with bacon and eggs is what the sweet gentleman from earlier paid for, for you.

The space behind the bar where all of the action takes place is very slim, but all of these wonderful women make it work. They seem to have it down pat, moving out of the way before another one even comes close to them. You smile and appreciate how hard these women work to please the community.

Once you finish your meal you give the women a large tip; $35 to split up between the five of them. They are discouraged for a second and you simply say, “You ladies work your butts off to keep everyone in here happy, you deserve it.” They thank you with a free coffee to-go and you head off on your merry way.

Katherine Napier is a Junior at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

Posted in 2015-2016, Culture, Entertainment

Why You Should Like Marvel Universe LIVE!


By Alanna Anderson

The idea of seeing a show up close and personal has been around for centuries, but modern technology has given it a new edge. Some of those cool things are the introduction of voice overs during the show, improved lighting, video backgrounds, and safe ways of suspending performers from the ceiling. Recently I attended a show with all of these features that goes by the name of…(*drumroll*)…Marvel Universe LIVE!

Marvel Universe LIVE! contains “25+ characters” and “1 epic quest.” As expressed in the title, the show is a live performance and fully takes advantage of a lot of the performance technology that has recently become available. The show is meant for a family audience so the jokes are PG rated, but they still contain small references that can only be caught by older viewers. Even without being a genuine fan of the Marvel universe, someone can still enjoy the performance and even some of the various puns. But that’s part of the reason why this article is being written: so that I can inform you of the pros and cons to see if this show is right for you.


Pros and Cons

Pro: The Decorations in the Lobby

This technically isn’t part of the show, but it was still appealing. Even though I wasn’t transported into a “whole new world,” I still enjoyed the efforts that were made to incorporate the Hulk into a hat for employees to wear. So while the Spiderman webs hanging from the toy carts and the Marvel posters pasted everywhere were cool, maybe it was the suffering-glint in the employee’s eyes as they tried to sound enthusiastic with Thor on their head that really got me going.

Con: A Lot of the Attendees (Especially the Screaming Kids)

I understand that a show like this would draw in little kids, including my brother, but you can only get pushed by so many little Ironman’s before you start to lose your patience. Ironically, the only place that wasn’t crowded was the woman’s bathroom. While walking to the security guards to have them check my ticket, Soccer Mom #1 with the Unneat Bun bumped me with her purse. While walking up a set of stairs to get to the floor that had my seat, little Ironman, Hulk, Spiderman, Thor, Black Widow, and probably the whole Marvel Universe knocked into me. There were polite people that tried to stay out of my
way, but for the most part we were all so crowded together that it seemed like we were trying to imitate the codependency of Dean and Sam Winchester from
Supernatural. One of the worst parts had to be when I was standing in front of the toy cart to wait for my brother to pick something and Soccer Mom #2 with the Messy Bun and Mismatched Outfit, reached her arm so close in front of my face to point at something that I could see the mustard stain on her lavender cardigan, and smell the unpleasant scent of baby wipes mixed with olive oil. I still haven’t let that go, Soccer Mom #2.


Pro: The Snow Cone Cups

I was even further immersed in the show when I had the experience of slurping syrup out of Spider-Man’s head. I had finally caved in to the yelling and coaxing of the walking employees and decided to purchase a snow cone during an intermission. While the snow
cone itself wasn’t that good, it’s cool to have a Spider-Man head as a souvenir. I do have to wonder how many people have spent their money on this though since it 1. wasn’t very filling, and 2. was one of those purchases that while it doesn’t really mean much, it seems to make me think back and wonder if the money spent in the heat of the moment was worth it.

Con: The Cost

This is something that varies depending upon your own personal experience, but the cost of my family going was more expensive than some people would like to spend. The cost of four front row seats was about $360 — which is $90 each. I’ve listed this as a con because while my family was fine with this, it could be a deal breaker for other people. Front row seats gave us what we thought was the best experience, but it could still be fun for anyone anywhere that they may be seated. The problem with being in a different seat is that you may not be able to see all of the performance details and actors’ facial expressions, the person in front of you may be too tall to see over, and these problems are even more apparent when you’re faced with the fog that blows out fairly often due to performance enhancement. I personally loved my seat, but as always when you’re making a purchase, you have to figure out how much you’re willing to sacrifice for the sake of entertainment.

Theater-Marvel Universe Live

Pro: The Show Itself

Despite the cons that I’ve listed, I would definitely go to the show again and my family has agreed with me. It did at times feel as if the intermissions in the beginning were dragging on, but the show was a very enjoyable two hours. It’s background info was presented like a story by using video and voice over to make it seem like current news channels were speaking about a catastrophe happening in our world. The characters in the show had a 70’s-action-movie-flair and entered by flipping and jumping and climbing over ramps. Their actions were very exaggerated, but that added to the appeal of seeing a performance. Not only was there an actual plot to the show, but the large amount of action enhanced it instead of seeming to be random additions. The performers hung from the ceiling, rode around, did tricks on motorbikes, fought each other, and told amusing/horrible puns and fighting lines.

Like with the performers it’s obvious that the crew cared a lot about the production. The costumes seemed straight out of an action movie, the fighting choreography and stuntswere really entertaining, and the special effects helped the show. It was just really awesome to see and to know that there are people who care about the production of a show being amazing. It’s pretty rare that I have no issues with a show, but with this one I couldn’t really find any faults. There were no mistakes (that I know of), the story was organized and not just random fighting scenes with no connection to the plot of the show, all of the audience seemed to be completely entertained, and afterwards I kept replaying parts in my head that stuck with me. Not only do I give this show an 8/10, but I also recommend it to anyone who is into family-rated live action shows — and wants a Spider-Man head you can drink out of.

Live shows definitely aren’t for everyone, but they continue to be an element of our society that is still revered by many. Maybe it’s the sparkling lights, dazzling acting, and special effects — maybe it’s even the parts of the show that we personally think suck. Seeing a show live gives the audience a feeling of being connected and involved with the show. To many, the talent that it takes to not (noticeably) mess up and to nail a performance every time without the use of editing makes live shows more impressive than recorded shows. Either way, there most likely won’t be an end to live shows anytime soon. We seem to need this connection to the past that improves as time goes on. As long as people are still willing to use art to express culture and thoughts, and are willing to choose spending their money on shows over other things, the live show experience that we have today will not only continue, but also continue to get better.

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram