The New Hybrid Structure of Admissions at BUA

by Anna Augart-Welwood


April 29, 2022

With the exciting return of partially in-person admissions, students have observed the arrival of shadows, tours, and revisit day All-School Meetings. The community is curious about statistics and the admissions process regarding the notable increased interest in BUA. As the school continues to develop and shift to meet the needs of incoming students, helpful insight from Ms. Hakimi and admissions ambassadors addresses the community’s questions.

The incoming freshman class totals fifty-six students, and four new juniors have also been admitted. According to Ms. Hakimi, no new sophomores were admitted with the intent of preserving the “tight-knit and personalized experience for all classes” in the already-large grade. Nearly four hundred students applied to BUA this year, breaking last year’s all-time high. The biggest difference from the all-virtual admissions last year is that the admissions process this year was hybrid. BUA hosted in-person tours and on-campus events, as well as virtual events including Zoom interviews, information sessions, MasterClasses, and other programs. The benefit of the hybrid admissions process was the flexibility that families had to choose the most comfortable and convenient option, whether they were concerned about the coronavirus or found it difficult and time-consuming to travel to many schools. For example, information sessions were hosted in the evenings for families who were unable to take time off work or drive to BUA. However, it was challenging for the admissions team to coordinate two different processes at once, though they worked diligently to provide prospective families with many choices and opportunities. Conducting all interviews over Zoom also comes with an advantage; families can participate in interviews from any location, which fostered greater equality for all applicants. Ms. Hakimi stated that applicant numbers and interest have been increasing for many years, but that the past two years especially have brought dramatic spikes in interest. The hybrid admissions process was a result of Ms. Hakimi’s and the admissions team’s goal “for the process to feel equitable for all families and to provide all the opportunities so that people could choose what they’re most comfortable with.”

Over four hundred families signed up for in-person tours and virtual information sessions this year. Several events were hosted per day between late September and late February. Approximately two to three families attended each tour and three to six were present during information sessions. The large number of events would not have been possible without the admissions team as well as the student ambassadors. One tour guide, Joie Liu ‘23, enjoyed meeting and connecting with various prospective students throughout the year. She believes that “the admissions team did a great job regulating tours to not be too big,” saying, “I was able to talk with every student and family that I gave a tour to.” One of the most gratifying parts of her week was engaging with possible future BUA students. Audrey Xiao ‘23, another tour guide, appreciated meeting families of many varying backgrounds. She observed the large number of prospective students and noted that “BUA’s presence seems to be growing.” With the help of the dedicated admissions ambassadors, BUA provided an engaging insight into the unparalleled student life and outstanding academics of a high school within a large university, prompting many students to apply.

The admissions process at BUA has undergone major adjustments and developments within the last few years as part of the school’s adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many changes, such as Zoom-only interviews, will likely continue into the future. BUA admissions have not been negatively impacted by the pandemic; the resourceful and creative admissions team has thought outside the box to develop new ways to host events. The new hybrid process has allowed more families to explore and consider BUA as an option because of the convenience of virtual events combined with engaging in-person tours. Ms. Hakimi believes that prospective families admire the “academic rigor and opportunities to take classes at BU,” BUA’s “significant resources,” and the “tight-knit community.” Ultimately, the unique opportunities that the school offers as well as the supportive and open students and faculty are what draw students to BUA.

West Side Story: A Broadway Re-Adaptation That Is More Than Just a Rehash

by Theo Sloan


April 29, 2022

What is West Side Story?

West Side Story (2021) is a remake of the 1961 classic movie of the same name, which is itself an adaptation of the 1957 musical of the same name, which is an adaptation of the classic Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet. You might expect a movie that is so many levels of derivative to just be a rehash of other, better ideas, with nothing new to bring to the table, and in many cases you would probably be right. Modern remakes of classic films tend to fall flat, as do many Broadway-to-big screen adaptations (just look at the train-wreck that was Dear Evan Hansen), so it seems like this movie was doomed to failure from the beginning. However, in a shocking turn of events, not only is Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List) the director of the movie, but it was apparently something of a passion project for him, and not just something studio executives conceptualized to turn a profit. So how is the final product? Does it live up to Steven Spielberg’s expert direction and fantastic record, or does it fall into the trash pile of vapid, garbage remakes that only exist to make a quick buck off of people’s nostalgia? That’s what I’m here to talk about today. But first, let me give a bit of context regarding my take on previous iterations of this story.

West Side Story: The Broadway Musical

West Side Story, for those who don’t know, is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in the streets of New York City. It chronicles the story of Tony, the ex-leader of a gang of young white men called the Jets, and Maria, the younger sister of the leader of a gang of impoverished Puerto Rican American immigrants called the Sharks. The two meet at a dance and instantly hit it off, and when their connection is discovered, it sends the Jets and the Sharks on a direct path of war against one another. The rest of the show follows the attempts of Tony and Maria to pursue their budding romance, the conflict between the Jets and the Sharks, and, well, if you know the story of Romeo and Juliet, you probably have a decent idea how the story ends. While the musical is certainly not an exact translation of the play, the influence is particularly clear. Other important characters throughout include Riff, Tony’s best friend and the current leader of the Jets; Bernardo, Maria’s older brother and the leader of the Sharks; and Anita, Bernardo’s partner and something of a moral compass for Maria.

West Side Story is also notable for having a score composed by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics written by Steven Sondheim, two of the most famous, influential, and talented creatives to ever grace Broadway with their presence. Needless to say, the result is one of the strongest Broadway soundtracks of all time with impeccable orchestration, an often operatic aesthetic, and lyrics that do a perfect job integrating with the themes of the story, while providing the audience with insight into the story and characterizations that move throughout the show. Even for people as talented as Bernstein and Sondheim, the music in West Side Story stands out in both of their careers as some of the best music they have ever put together.

Although controversial for its grappling with racism and the depictions of the effects of poverty on US youth, West Side Story was a smash hit with both critics and audiences. It had an enormous influence on musical theater, especially in the way it made its spectacular choreography a central focus of the show, but it also had, as noted above, a simply incredible soundtrack and received lots of recognition for that.1 Since then, West Side Story has gone on to become a musical theater classic, and it is generally considered to be as influential as it is good. Many of the musical conventions that define musical theater in this day and age can be traced back to West Side Story, and it’s safe to say that this show has since paved the way for equally visionary and innovative productions that have come out in recent years, such as Hamilton and Hadestown. The original production won several Tony awards including Best Choreography, and every Broadway revival of the show since then has also been nominated for several Tony awards.

Now, full disclosure, I have not seen West Side Story on Broadway. I have listened to the soundtrack for the purposes of this review, and it’s excellent, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see the show live. However, it is undeniable that West Side Story is an influential piece of musical theater that shaped Broadway for decades to come. So how did it fare when adapted for the big screen?

West Side Story (1961)

While I will grudgingly admit that West Side Story’s first adaptation to the big screen is influential, I have a strong distaste for it. To put it simply, everything that is good about it was taken from the Broadway show, and everything that is bad about it is the result of the people making it, putting their feet in their collective mouths and gumming things up in the adaptation process. So, for instance, the songs are all excellent, because they’re all lifted from the show. Bernstein and Sondheim’s excellent respective composing and lyricism remain intact, so it’s no wonder that the songs resonated with movie-going audiences at the time. The singers all sound good, because they’re all talented people, and the story remains compelling, because the people who wrote the book for the Broadway show knew what they were doing. 

Unfortunately, although the singers are talented, I feel like pretty much everyone in this adaptation is miscast. Riff looks more like a preppy kid trying to “dress gangster” rather than an actual leader of a gang, Tony’s actor can’t pull off either side of his character, the sappy romantic or the vicious ex-leader of the Jets, and Maria is played by a white woman wearing skin darkening cosmetics to try and appear “Puerto Rican”—that was racist when the movie first came out, and has only gotten worse with age. And it’s not just Maria either; it’s every Puerto Rican character in the movie. To give an example, one of the actors who played Riff on Broadway was cast in the movie to play Bernardo. Are you kidding me? I shouldn’t have to explain why that’s problematic. Now to be fair, I am all for judging things in the context of their time period, but at the same time, it is my judgment that this was incredibly racist, even in the context of the early 1960s. It’s not even like the show had a particularly racially diverse cast, but that’s because characters often don’t play their race (or their gender) in live theater, and even though it didn’t look great at the time, Broadway these days has actors of color portraying white characters, white actors portraying a variety of different non-white characters, men playing women, and women playing men. So the casting of the musical just doesn’t stick out the way the casting of the movie does. It’s a different medium, and it plays by different rules, not to mention that the vast majority of the revival casts have had racially diverse casts, and the show was made in the 1950s, not the 1960s.

Another issue I have with the first West Side Story movie is that the cinematography is uninteresting, and I feel like the movie’s musical numbers don’t often integrate into the environments very well. In other words, I consider it to be a very overrated adaptation of a phenomenal musical. It is yet another movie that butchers its source material, the only difference this time being that the source material is so profoundly good and well-written that it sometimes overcomes the painful failure of the movie. I may very well write a full review of the 1961 West Side Story at some point, but that day is not today, because I am far more interested in talking about the 2021 movie, and I think I’ve provided enough context to dig into my thoughts on it. So, did West Side Story (2021) live up to the stage show? Or does it get to join the original in its place of honor right next to Cats (2019) and Into the Woods (2014) in the overrated trash-heap of history?

West Side Story (2021)

The first thing that I noticed when I began watching this film is that the cinematography is impeccable. This is a movie containing a lot of complex choreography, and not only does Justin Peck do a fantastic job adapting the original choreography to the big screen, but Spielberg also makes every single shot in this movie pop out of the screen. Even simple pans across the streets of New York are often exciting to look at, and this is all accomplished without sacrificing the grimy feeling that this movie is supposed to have. The juxtaposition of the dirty, drab streets with the colorful, vibrant choreography makes for a unique and entertaining visual canvas for the story to unfold onto. A few highlights in which the choreography and cinematography come together in particularly noteworthy ways include “Jet Song,” “The Dance at the Gym,” “America,” and “Gee, Officer Krupke,” but I truly cannot overstate how every sequence in this movie is impeccably crafted. Just from a technical standpoint, I think this movie manages to justify its existence better than the 1961 version ever did, and that’s before I get into all the stuff that actually matters from a storytelling standpoint.

The 2021 West Side Story has a cast that is diverse in both a racial sense and in the ratio of stars to newcomers. There are some fairly big names attached to this project, such as Ansel Elgort (Tony), Mike Faist (Riff, known for playing Connor Murphy in the original Broadway cast of Dear Evan Hansen), and Rita Moreno (Valentina, played Anita in the 1961 West Side Story), but one of its main stars, Rachel Zegler (Maria), is a complete Hollywood unknown, as is the case for several other major cast members. Speaking of Rachel Zegler, she is simply incredible, and I do not say that lightly. This was her first time ever appearing in a movie, and she out-competed over thirty thousand other applicants to get the role. After seeing her in the movie, I completely understand why she got the part. Not only can this woman sing like few others, but she gives what would be a career-defining performance for any A-list star while doing so. She has to pull off so many different emotional extremes throughout the film, and she moves between them with a nuance that brings a lot of resonance to her character. She and Elgort also have very good chemistry, and even though their romance has a couple story problems that I’ll touch on later, their dynamic does a great job selling me on them as a couple. Speaking of Ansel Elgort, I’ve seen him get a lot of flack on the internet for his performance, but I really don’t see the issue. He has a beautiful voice, he pulls off the incredibly demanding vocal part required of any actor who plays Tony, and he has the acting chops to pull off the wide range of emotions and character beats that Tony has to move through as well. Of the two, I think that Zegler’s performance is noticeably stronger, but that is in no way a condemnation of Elgort. I was sold on him the second he started singing “Maria,” and he only exceeded my expectations as time went on.

The next two important characters to go over are Riff and Bernardo, and both actors do a very good job in their respective roles. Mike Faist has a difficult job in that he needs to straddle the line between menacing and likable, and he knocks his portrayal of Riff out of the park. It is always obvious why he is a leader, both when he’s being the charismatic figure who the the Jets look up to in “Jet Song” and when he’s brutally beating the snot out of his enemies during “The Rumble.” He’s a tough character, because he’s in the wrong a lot of the time, yet I couldn’t help sympathize with his plight at the same time. Part of that is the chemistry he has with Elgort, which does a lot to bring Riff’s relationship with Tony to life, which in turn grounds Riff’s character and keeps him feeling complex and sympathetic. Bernardo is also good, but unfortunately, David Alvarez is given less to work with in the writing department, and this is evident in his performance. There’s never a moment when he does a bad job, and in fact he does an outstanding job during sequences such as “The Rumble,” but I also found his character a bit forgettable at times. This is in no way a critique of Alvarez’s work, but simply a byproduct of an unfortunate writing problem.

Finally, there’s Ariana DeBose and Rita Moreno. DeBose plays the character of Anita, who is Bernardo’s partner and acts as a foster mother for Maria. The ideological conflict between Anita and Maria makes up a decent portion of the finale of the movie, and a choice that Anita makes directly and intentionally brings about the ending. DeBose has an enormous job on her hands, as she has to convince the audience that she was driven into making the choice she did and that by the end she both stands by that decision and feels guilt over it. She’s also an incredible singer and is given an opportunity to really shine in “A Boy Like That / I Have a Love.” She recently won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in this movie, and she definitely deserved it. In the 1961 adaptation, DeBose’s character was played by Moreno, and the character Moreno plays here, Valentina, was invented for the 2021 adaptation specifically for her. Valentina, a Puerto Rican widow who owns a drugstore, grounds Tony in reality from the very beginning. There isn’t a ton to her character, but it’s a very sweet part, and I’m glad Spielberg added her in. If anything else, she adds a tad more depth to Tony’s character and gets a chance to sing a nice song near the end.

The music in the movie is still really good. The orchestration is beautiful, the singers sound fantastic together, and Spielberg absolutely succeeds in bringing together the beautiful composition, lyricism, and choreography onto the big screen. Really, my only complaint music-wise is the song “I Feel Pretty,” which is not only compositionally boring, but also does very little to advance the themes, plots, and character arcs in the movie, not to mention that it looks especially weak following “Tonight (Quintet)” and “The Rumble,” which are two of the best sequences in the movie. Unfortunately, this right here brings me to my biggest point of conflict in regard to this movie: the plot.

As I’ve mentioned, West Side Story was originally a modernized musical retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and it plays heavily into similar themes of destined tragedy and love at first sight. It executes these themes perfectly well, and the actors do a good job portraying their love for one another. My issue here is just that I don’t find that kind of story compelling. It feels as though the romance is driven by external factors, rather than the characters themselves, and I know that’s the point, but it’s just not really my cup of tea. If this kind of thing is what you enjoy, then it’s likely that you’ll resonate deeply with this movie, but for me, the closest I can get to that is recognizing that everything here is written very well, even if my personal taste prevents me from fully clicking with it.

At the end of the day, West Side Story is a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. It preserves everything that’s great about the music in the stage show, every cast member does an absolutely incredible job, and the choreography and cinematography are both breathtaking. Unfortunately, I still find the narrative to be a bit weak, and the themes that it explores don’t resonate particularly well with me. Nevertheless, I think it is fair to say that this movie more than does justice to the original Broadway show, and that’s really great to see. I am beyond happy that so many quality musical adaptations were released in 2021, and I think that this version of West Side Story will go down in history as the definitive version for the majority of audiences. Most importantly of all, when combined with In the Heights and Tick, Tick…BOOM, West Side Story (2021) might just be good enough to allow myself and fellow musical theater fans to forgive 2021 for giving us the trash fire adaptation that was the Dear Evan Hansen movie.

West Side Story is well worth renting on Amazon, or streaming on HBOMax, if you prefer, and it’s an absolute must-watch if you’re a fan of musicals, modernized Shakespeare, Steven Spielberg movies, or any combination of the above.

1 “The Great ‘West Side Story’ Debate,” The New York Times, December 1, 2021,

Morbius Review

by Allie Vasserman


April 29, 2022

Morbius (2022) is the most recent superhero action movie that is part of the Marvel-Sony movie collaboration, featuring a lesser-known character. It is directed by Daniel Espinosa, and it stars Jared Leto as Dr. Michael Morbius, Matt Smith as Milo, Adria Arjona as Dr. Martine Bancroft, Jared Harris as Dr. Emil Nicholas, Tyrese Gibson as FBI agent Simon Stroud, and Al Madrigal as FBI agent Rodriguez.

The movie opens with Dr. Michael Morbius as he travels to a cave in a jungle in an effort to capture a species of bats, which he hopes to use to cure his rare blood disease. The movie then jumps to flashbacks where young Morbius is living in Greece while being cared for by Dr. Emil Nicholas. This is where Morbius meets his lifelong friend Lucien, whom he nicknames Milo. The movie then jumps back to the present day, where Dr. Morbius’ colleague, Dr. Martine Bancroft, finds out that he has been experimenting with the bats’ DNA. After Morbius uses the bats’ DNA to create a cure for his rare blood disease, he tests the cure on himself. The cure does work as expected, and he officially becomes Morbius, the living vampire. Morbius now has certain superhuman powers. With the help of Martine, Morbius has to fix the problem he created because now he needs to drink blood in order to survive. Some synthetic blood that he has created satisfies him for the present, but he does not know how long it will be until he needs human blood.

This movie is one hour and forty-five minutes long, but it still feels short and unfinished. The plot feels predictable. The phrase “we are the few against the many” is a key line that recurs from the beginning to the climax of the movie that establishes a theme of the movie but didn’t need to be repeated so many times for viewers to get the point. Morbius’ origami bats, which point to his new identity as a vampire, are another recurring symbol that feels overused. I especially dislike the ending of the movie; I feel like the movie was cut off just before it could have a proper and satisfying ending. The movie has one plot twist, but it’s so obvious that you see it coming. I also have some mixed feelings about Morbius’ vampire superpowers. The superpowers look cool, but they remind me of the animated film Hotel Transylvania. I think that the Marvel-Sony collaboration that brought us the latest Spider-Man trilogy and the two Venom movies could have done better. 

I did enjoy watching Morbius’ struggle between his morals as a doctor and his desire to feed on human blood to stay alive and maintain his enhanced physique. I also liked the relationship between Morbius and Martine. I think that the two characters have chemistry between them that will possibly be explored further in future sequels. I also liked the post-credit scenes because they seem to foreshadow a Sinister Six team-up against Spider-Man coming sometime in the future.

Out of all of the Marvel-Sony superhero movie collaborations we have had so far, I think this is the weakest one.  But I look forward to seeing future movies featuring more obscure characters in this new multiverse.

The Dangers of Idolizing Zelensky

by Therese Askarbek


March 31, 2022

The most recent invasion and attack of Ukraine in February have sparked protests around the world against the war waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin. As cities such as Mariupol are relentlessly bombed and invaded by Russian tanks, the escalating war has been on the minds of many in the US. Concerns over rising gas prices, relatives and friends living in Ukraine, and the consequences of Russia’s power grab are just a few of many that have been plaguing the country and news outlets since the war officially broke out. Aside from the muddle of anxiety and concern, liberals and conservatives alike have begun idolizing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Memes of him in uniform with other soldiers in the trenches or sitting around a table compared to Putin sitting alone have been trending online as an alleged testament of his groundedness and courageousness. Some, on social media platforms such as TikTok, have gone as far as making fan-edited videos of him, the comments filled with remarks on his physical attractiveness and their infatuation with him. There are several things wrong with this type of rhetoric. 

When looking at the state of post-Soviet countries, a major commonality between them is a near universal issue of corruption. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus has been run by a dictatorship under Alexander Lukashenko, who is known for jailing his opponents and censoring the press.1 Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has kept Turkmenistan firmly under his control, with no one allowed to dissent or contradict his policies. In Kazakhstan, citizens have become increasingly discontented with their reduced rights and the wealth gap, with the elite clutching tightly to most of the country’s wealth. Ukraine is no exception to the corruption plaguing these countries since 1991. Under the oligarchic regime in which Zelensky is president, Ukrainian officials and parliament members have been plundering money from the state budget. They were reported to have stolen a fifth of the country’s output per year from 2010 to 2014.2 Though many were hopeful that, if voted into the presidential office, Zelensky would put an end to the corrupt government practices, he proved to be corrupt himself when the Pandora papers were leaked. These papers suggested that Zelensky had a stake in an offshore company that he had transferred to a friend just weeks before being elected.3 He appointed loyalists and his friends to high posts in the government and was backed by a billionaire who owned the network Zelensky worked on as an actor for the hit show “Servant of the People.”4 His promise to tackle corruption was left unfulfilled, with the same issues still prevalent in the country as before. 

Though he has proven to be steadfast, brave, and unwavering in the face of an onslaught of Russian attacks, he is not exempt from criticism. By solely focusing our attention on these qualities he has exemplified, we become dangerously close to complacency, not only with politicians abroad, but in the US as well. As we have seen with Representative Alexandra Ocasio Cortez and “the Squad,” idolizing any politician causes us to lose our objectivity and to find ourselves unable to hold our “favorite” politicians accountable. 

In this particular instance, the ramifications of indulging in passionate displays of affection for Zelensky or treating him like an infallible hero are also profoundly insensitive to the Ukranians suffering from the war. Recently, the New York Post reported that US “fans” were begging for Jeremy Renner to portray Zelensky in a future biopic—as Ukranians were being bombed in their homes.5 In idolizing him, a real, traumatic war is effectively sensationalized. It is turned into trivial fodder for people to entertain themselves with. Whatever one may think of Zelensky, we need to apply mindful, critical analysis to politicians and their policies in order to consciously work our way through the chaos that is today’s current events. 

1 Justin Burke, “Post-Soviet World: what you need to know about the 15 states,” The Guardian, June 9, 2014,

2 Oliver Bullough, “Welcome to Ukraine, the most corrupt nation in Europe,” The Guardian, February 6, 2015,

3 Luke Harding, “Revealed: ‘anti-oligarch’ Ukrainian President’s offshore connections,” The Guardian, October 3, 2021,

4 Anna Myroniuk, “Opinion: I did not vote for Ukraine’s president. His courage has changed my mind and inspired millions,” The Washington Post, February 27, 2022,

5 Andrew Court, “Fans cast Jeremy Renner as Zelensky in fantasy Ukraine invasion film: Too soon?,” The New York Post, February 28, 2022,

Relic of a Bygone Era: Russia Invades Ukraine

by Matthew Volfson


March 31, 2022

In 1919, a war between the Soviet Union and Poland broke out, as well as a war between the Soviet Union and a short-lived Ukrainian independent state.1 It was the end of World War I, a time of suffering for the world and chaos in Eastern Europe, where a communist Hungarian revolution attempted to take root and Polish nationalists fought off the Germans in Poznan. The newly founded League of Nations was bumbling through it all. Meanwhile, the Americans, British, Japanese, and French were invading Russia, ostensibly backing the Russian imperialists in favor of their own interests. 

2022 is very different from that era. Europe is no longer in a state of chaos. Europeans have learned the consequences of starting two World Wars both in their hearts and minds. However, it does not seem that Putin has a heart and a mind as he seeks to repeat Soviet power plays from that era. In his speech rationalizing Russia’s recognition of the rebel-controlled areas of Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, and the movement of his troops into Ukraine on a “peacekeeping mission,” he said that Ukraine was an artificial state created by Lenin in 1922, even though the history of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, far predates that of Moscow.

In spite of the millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine and thousands of Ukrainian war casualties, the people of Ukraine have stood up to the challenge. President Volodymyr Zelensky is rallying his people and the nations of the world to condemn this invasion. The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have responded to Zelensky’s call and sent an artillery barrage of sanctions to the open underbelly of the Russian economy.2

The people of Russia have paid a high price for the invasion that many of them did not even want. Russia drafts conscripts aged eighteen to twenty-seven into its army. If this reporter, for example, were in Russia right now, in one year, assuming the conflict lasts for that long, he could be conscripted into the Ukrainian invasion. It is true that Russian forces have captured Kherson, Melitopol, and some other Ukrainian cities.3 However, thousands of Russians are taking to the streets to protest the violence in Ukraine and have been detained for it.4

In addition, these Ukrainian cities have been captured by Russian troops who are low on morale, in the face of a protracted resistance prepared by the citizens against the Russian attack.5 Ukrainians have already begun protesting against Russian occupation. Russia has also not yet captured the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv, the two largest in Ukraine, which they initially intended to do so in just a few days.6 There has been documented evidence of Russian conscripts refusing to fight.7 The Russian economy has taken a huge hit; the Moscow stock exchange has dropped so low that it has been forced to close. In addition, there has been reported panic-buying all over Russia, further evidence that the war has punctured Russia hard.

Because of Ukraine’s resolve, the Russians have made little to no progress in recent days. The war has evolved into a stalemate, a humiliation for supposedly the world’s second most powerful military; in comparison, Ukraine isn’t even on the rankings.8,9 This stalemate is mostly due to the fact that the operation was planned very suddenly; Russian soldiers were unaware that they were going to fight on foreign soil right up until the moment the war started. 

In addition to having miscalculated the capacity of his logistics, Putin has badly miscalculated the popular beliefs of Ukrainians and Ukrainian troops. He expected Ukrainians to greet Russian soldiers as liberators when, in fact, the opposite occurred. He expected that it would be the Ukrainian soldiers who would have low morale and decide to overthrow the government when, again, the opposite has happened. Ukrainian soldiers have risked their lives for their government. Morale is higher than ever in Ukraine, and 90% of Ukraine’s people stand behind their president, whom Putin has dismissed as a neo-Nazi, even though Zelensky is a Jew.10,11  

What is even more interesting about Russia’s stalemate status with Ukraine is that in January, analysts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a premier foreign policy center, predicted the whole situation from afar.12 They stated that, from the perspective of morale, Russia’s military establishment, including both soldiers and upper-level management, has been acting similar to the way they acted before the Soviet Union’s botched invasion of Afghanistan in 1989. 

The CSIS article assumes that Russia would struggle even without external aid to Ukraine, not to say that the aid is not important. Maps in the article state that the Russians would most likely roll over the Ukrainians and link with Transnistria, an unrecognized breakaway state on the western border of Ukraine. That currently has not happened, and Russia is struggling even more now that the West has in fact aided Ukraine, just as the US aided Afghan insurgents when the complacent Soviet command invaded the nation all those years ago.

This prediction exposes the Russian process as flawed from the start. Putin didn’t have to get bogged down in this war if he had listened to the experts who predicted Russia’s struggles. Putin’s brash behavior has led to such an invasion, and with this invasion, he has exposed those in the West who support him.13 And also, the PR campaign on Russia’s end has been an absolute disaster; the only thing people in the West have seen is pro-Ukraine post after pro-Ukraine post about this war.14

Because Putin didn’t listen to those who warned him the invasion would be rough and not worth the effort, those who were in his inner cabinet and those tacticians playing out the wargames, he paid the price, which includes the tanking of Russia’s economy, the wavering of support from what has been the superpower most friendly to Russia, China, and another humiliation of the Russian military. It does not seem that Putin has learned from 1989. What happens next is only a guess, but Putin has the end of his reign within the radius of possibility. The war has been a wave of embarrassment for the Russian nation, changing the country and even the world forever. 

1 Kazimierz Maciej Smogorzewski, “Russo-Polish War,” Encyclopædia Britannica,

2 “U.S. Treasury Announces Unprecedented & Expansive Sanctions against Russia, Imposing Swift and Severe Economic Costs,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, February 24, 2022,

3 BBC Visual Journalism Team, “Ukraine War in Maps: Tracking the Russian Invasion,” BBC News, March 25, 2022,

4 RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, “Thousands Detained at Anti-War Protests across Russia,” RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, March 7, 2022,

5 Jim Garamone, “Russian Forces Invading Ukraine Suffer Low Morale,” U.S. Department of Defense, March 23, 2022,

6 Naveed Jamali, David Brennan, and Tom O’Connor, “Exclusive: U.S. Expects Kyiv’s Fall in Days, Ukraine Source Warns of Encirclement,” Newsweek, February 25, 2022,

7 Niko Vorobyov, “Fearing Front-Line Deployment, Some Russians Resist Conscription,” Al Jazeera, March 18, 2022,

8 Martin Armstrong and Felix Richter, “Infographic: The World’s Most Powerful Militaries,” Statista Infographics, January 14, 2022,

9 Monique Beals, “War in Ukraine at Stalemate, Research Group Concludes,” The Hill, March 20, 2022,

10 Robert Mackey, “Zelensky Posts Defiant Videos from the Streets of Kyiv as Putin’s Forces Close In,” The Intercept, February 26, 2022,

11 Afiq Fitri and Kirstie Canene-Adams, “How President Zelensky’s Approval Ratings Have Surged,” New Statesman, March 1, 2022,

12 Seth G. Jones, “Russia’s Possible Invasion of Ukraine,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 25, 2022,

13 Victor Jack, “Putin’s European Pals Have to Eat Their Words,” Politico, February 26, 2022,

14 Ian Garner, “How Is the War Going for Putin on Social Media? Not Great,” The Washington Post, March 6, 2022,

The Batman Review

by Allie Vasserman


March 31, 2022

The Batman (2022), directed by Matt Reeves, is the latest Batman reboot. It stars Robert Pattinson as Batman or Bruce Wayne, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman or Selena Kyle, Paul Dano as the Riddler, Colin Ferral as the Penguin, Jeffery Wright as Lieutenant James “Jim” Gordon, John Tururio as Carmine Falcone, and Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth.

Unlike Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, this version of Batman does not start with the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, but rather with Wayne doing a monologue as criminals run away in fear and the Bat-Signal lights up in the sky. At the start of the movie, Batman has been fighting crime in Gotham City for two years. The plot kicks off when Lieutenant Jim Gordon brings on Batman to help the police solve the murder of Don Mitchell, the mayor of Gotham City. Bruce Wayne uses his home, Wayne Manor, as a base where he reviews the evidence of the mayor’s murder and determines, with the help of Alfred, that the villain is the Riddler. Batman ends up working with Catwoman, who has her own agenda, to help Jim Gordon and the police solve the mystery.

Robert Pattinson’s Batman is different from Christian Bale’s Batman; in this movie, Batman is more like The World’s Greatest Detective, which is one of his titles from the comics.  Also, this Bruce Wayne is a recluse, not a billionaire playboy. He does not care about how the world sees him and pours all of his time and energy into being Batman. Other characters appear differently in this movie as well. The Penguin, for example, does not look like a comic book character; the prosthetics on his face make him look more realistic. Unlike other Batman villains that have been on the big screen, Paul Dano’s Riddler does not instill fear in many of the citizens of Gotham; rather, he recruits them through social media by exposing and murdering the most corrupt of Gotham. The Riddler is actually portrayed as a sympathetic villain in this movie, compared to the “good” and “dutiful” government officials. Also, this version of the Riddler does not wear a bright green suit with purple tie, a cap with question mark, or carry a cane with a  question mark like his comic book counterpart, but instead has a more realistic appearance. Jeffery Wright’s Jim Gordon is shown to be one of the good men in Gotham, trying to root out corruption in the city even if it means putting himself in danger and tarnishing the Gotham City Police Department’s reputation. Zoe Kravitz and Andy Serkis do a good job portraying Catwoman and Alfred. Like in the previous Batman movies, this one has a memorable and intense chase scene with the Batmobile, although we don’t see a lot of “bat gadgets” that we see in other Batman movies. And in this movie, the music plays a key role, setting the tone and adding to the suspense. For instance, Batman’s footsteps sound heavy to show that he instills fear into others around him.

The Batman is three hours long, but to me, there was not a single slow moment. This may be my favorite live action version of Batman. I enjoyed watching Batman basically run around Gotham City trying to solve a murderous scavenger hunt set up by the Riddler. I also thought that the fight scenes were well coordinated. I could have done without the romance between Batman and Catwoman, but since Catwoman is a major love interest for Batman in the comics, I expected to see some sort of a romantic storyline between them. And I thought the monologues at the beginning and the end of the movie were unnecessary. But overall, I enjoyed The Batman, which is less of a traditional comic book adaptation and more of a murder mystery. I recommend it for fans of Batman and detective stories.

Russia-Ukraine Crisis: How Will the World React?

by Matthew Volfson


February 25, 2022

After British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement in 1938, he said, “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British prime minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time.”1 After a press conference with Joe Biden in 2021, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany stated, “We are cooperating with our allies in NATO and [the European Union], and with the United States, on the question of how to react to this threat to Ukraine that is coming from Russia.”2

At first glance, these quotes seem quite different. The first claims peace when a German autocrat musters preparations for war; the second implicitly pledges that a nation shall work with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to protect Europe from Russian revanchist claims. However, they share striking similarities. Both Chamberlain’s and Scholz’s claims are fragile. Both were and are wishful thinking. Chamberlain thought he could bring to peace a continent preparing for war. Scholz thinks that he can wage war with Russia, in cooperation with NATO, when half of his country depends on Russian gas.3

That’s all well and good, but why focus on Germany? Scholz’s Germany is the nexus of NATO’s European wing against Russia. Germany is the nation with the largest economy in Europe. If Germany stands to lose on crucial energy reserves, NATO’s energy would be sapped, both literally and metaphorically. Germany is a crucial building block for American forces to assemble their full force against the Russians.

Scholz’s claim is fragile, but Russia’s war-making abilities are also severely limited, which bodes well for Scholz, NATO, and Ukraine. If Putin decides to do a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, he would most likely have to deal with a protracted guerilla war with Ukrainian insurgents sponsored by Americans, ruining the Russian military and economy. 

 It is more likely that the conflict will be localized and similar to a civil war, where Russian-backed separatists are given more aid by Russia against Ukraine. Brandon Drapeau ‘23 agrees, saying, “[There would be a] much bigger cost for Russia to invade Ukraine than [to invade] Crimea; war would be a detrimental situation for both sides.” Of note, Russian ambitions to invade Ukraine have predated the current conflict: in 2014, Russian troops moved into Crimea with few casualties, successfully invading the peninsula that had been part of Ukraine.4 Russia’s success here was most likely due to the fact that a majority of Crimeans, fifty-eight percent, were ethnically Russian even before the Russian occupation, so they were more likely to welcome Putin.5

It is far from clear that Russia is really preparing for war. Most men in Russia who would be conscripted in the war effort hold favorable views toward Ukraine.6 In addition, Russia is too dependent on gas revenues it makes from European markets, which provide forty percent of the money in Russian coffers.7 The economic tolls for Russia would be high, although Putin would most likely be indifferent to those, as Russia has gone through plenty of recessions and suffering already.8

Even if Putin ignores Russian suffering, invading Ukraine would confirm Russia’s foes’ expectations and constant warnings of attack, which would expose the Russian foreign office’s denial of invasion as a lie and cover-up.9,10 Essentially, the most likely scenario, with the least negative effects on Russia, might be for Putin to increase aid to Russian-speaking regions in Ukraine, though one never really knows what will happen until Putin makes his next move.

1 Patrick Corkery, “Peace for Our Time,” The Irish Times, October 8, 2013,,the%20bottom%20of%20our%20hearts.

2 Quint Forgey, “Germany’s Scholz Warns Russia Would Pay ‘Very High Price’ for Invading Ukraine,” Politico, February 7, 2022,

3 Kate Abnett and Vera Eckert, “Factbox: How Much Does Germany Need Russian Gas?” Reuters, January 20, 2022,

4 Jonathon Cosgrove, “The Russian Invasion of the Crimean Peninsula, 2014-2015,” Johns Hopkins University, 2020,

5 Ivan Katchanovski, “Crimea: People and Territory before and after Annexation,” E-International Relations, June 4, 2016,

6 Victor Jack, “How do young Ukrainians and Russians feel about another war?” Al Jazeera, February 7, 2022,

7 Christophe-Alexandre Paillard, “Russia and Europe’s Mutual Energy Dependence,” Journal of International Affairs 63, no. 2 (2010): 65–84,

8 Marshall I. Goldman, “Russia: A Petrostate in a Time of Worldwide Economic Recession and Political Turmoil,” Social Research 76, no. 1 (2009): 55–70,

9 Vladimir Isachenkov and Yuras Karmanau, “Russia Denies Looking for Pretext to Invade Ukraine,” AP News, January 17, 2022,

10 Caroline Nyce, “The Atlantic Daily: America Sounds the Alarm on Russia-Ukraine,” The Atlantic, January 19, 2022,

A Historical Supreme Court Nomination

by Anna Augart-Welwood


February 25, 2022

Justice Stephen Breyer, one of three liberal justices, is stepping down after serving for twenty-seven years on the Supreme Court. During his time on the Court, Breyer operated with the belief that interpretation of the US Constitution should not be fixed but instead should change with the times, which opposes the ideas of conservative justices who adhere to the intentions of the writers. Breyer stated, “The reason that I do that is because law in general, I think, grows out of communities of people who have some problems they want to solve.” Following Justice Breyer’s retirement, President Joe Biden must nominate someone, whom he has promised will be a black woman, to fill the vacancy.

President Biden’s ideal nominee should be able to persuade members of the court as well as the public and possess legal skill and integrity. Biden says he is heavily considering four candidates, including Judge J. Michelle Childs from South Carolina, Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson, who used to work as a clerk for Justice Breyer, and Justice Leondra R. Kruger, who worked in the Obama administration and currently serves on the Supreme Court of California. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who was present at the meeting in which Biden discussed the nominees, stated that Biden wants “someone in the model of Justice Breyer, someone who will write stirring, compelling, lasting arguments—hopefully in the majority at some point, but probably, in the coming few years, in the dissent.” Biden is planning to reveal his choice by the end of February, after which the nominee must be confirmed.

Nevertheless, the confirmation of a justice is a lengthy process. When there is an open position in the Supreme Court, the President nominates a candidate. The Senate Judiciary Committee then holds a hearing in which the nominee answers questions about their qualifications and beliefs. Then, the Judiciary Committee votes on the nomination and sends its decision to the full Senate. The Senate determines the results of the nomination with fifty-one required votes for or against the nominee, a change implemented in 2017 that allowed Trump to appoint three Justices. In the event of a tie in the nomination, the Vice President will cast the conclusive vote. The Senate is currently split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. Assuming all Democratic senators vote in favor of the nominee or gain support from some Republican senators, Vice President Kamala Harris will have to break a tie vote. The illness or death of even one Democrat on the Senate could cause the party to lose their majority, and then Biden’s nominee might not be confirmed.

Regardless of whom Biden chooses, the first black female Supreme Court Justice is an important step in diversifying leadership and government in the United States. However, this nomination is only the beginning; there are many qualified black female judges and, hopefully, more will soon be given the chance to serve on the Supreme Court.

Detrow, Scott. “Biden Says He’s Done a ‘Deep Dive’ on 4 Supreme Court Candidates.” NPR, February 10, 2022.

Georgetown Law Library. “Supreme Court Nominations Research Guide: Nomination & Confirmation Process.” Accessed February 18, 2022.

Hulse, Carl. “Here’s Why Republicans Can’t Filibuster President Biden’s Supreme Court Nominee.” The New York Times, January 26, 2022.

Hulse, Carl and Katie Rogers. “Biden, a Veteran of Supreme Court Fights, Ponders His Own Historic Pick.” The New York Times, February 12, 2022.

Williams, Pete. “Justice Stephen Breyer to Retire from Supreme Court, Paving Way for Biden Appointment.” NBC News, January 27, 2022.

As You Like It: Interviews With the Cast and Crew

by Giselle Wu


February 25, 2022

After nearly two years of performing on Zoom, Boston University Academy’s Drama Club has made an in-person return with the winter play! Directed by Mr. Gardiner, BUA’s winter play, William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, was performed in the Black Box Theater from January 21 to January 23, 2022. How was this in-person experience for our BUA cast and crew? The following are interviews with members of the BUA cast and crew of As You Like It.

What has it been like to return to doing drama in person? 

Mr. Gardiner, Director:

It’s been exciting, scary and a relief. I was trained in theater and for me that’s in-person interaction with an audience. We did some performances on Zoom in the past two years, and I was very proud of them, but it’s really a different medium than live theater. It is great to finally be in the same space with my actors and students and return to a way of working that feels more comfortable for me. On the other hand, it’s a struggle to try to rebuild a program after such disruption Covid brought. At the same time, I learned from the ways I had to adapt the program for online or hybrid learning.

Suzie Marcus ‘22, Stage Manager:

I’m so glad we got to do it in person! Personally, I love the rush and excitement of the constantly moving parts—the quick changes, props, actor cues, etc. It was also great to see people able to perform in front of an audience and make use of the Black Box space.

Condredge Currie ‘23, Actor:

I participated in the winter play in my freshman year, and it was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had doing drama ever. I found a community of people who were as passionate as me, and it was a new experience that I somehow lacked without knowing [it]. Then, after Covid began and my sophomore year started, I found myself less passionate about the drama exercises we did in class, and learning the winter play was going to be fully online, I [developed] this aversion entirely. I wanted to move my body to words and feel the material in a more sincere way. This year was incredible because I was able to truly explore my role in the winter play, and the emotions I felt at the center of a stage are unmatched.

Michael Bolgov ‘23, Actor:

A return to drama in person was awesome! I think that audience participation is truly what makes theater a great work of art. From the point of view of an actor, we need the audience to give us feedback. I really enjoyed being able to have the freedom of acting on a stage again and interacting with the rest of the cast and audience!

Theo Chitkushev ‘24, Actor:

It was wonderful. It felt good to feel the BUA sense of community return and even through all of the uncertainty with the Omicron spike, it still felt good to put on a show.

How have coronavirus protocols affected drama? 

Mr. Gardiner, Director:

Covid has affected drama in so many ways! Though I believe an actor needs to use the WHOLE body, it’s an adjustment to overcome how much we rely on facial cues, not only in acting but even in our day-to-day interactions with other people. On stage, we can’t see the actor’s face [when they’re masked], and neither can an actor see their partner and react appropriately to what is being given to them. I have confidence that my actors can rise to the occasion.

Suzie Marcus ‘22, Stage Manager:

Masks for the actors was definitely an ongoing question of “How will we make this work?” Basically what we did is use black and white masks to signify the family or “type” of person the actor was portraying. Honestly, for the actors who played multiple characters, and for the two who had characters pretend to be other people, I think the masks might have actually helped. It made it more obvious to the audience that there was a distinction between people. The other thing was the constant worry of having a cast member get Covid right before or during show week. I decided to make everyone get tested everyday for that week and a half, so that we could stay on top of things, had there been any cases. Luckily, there weren’t any during Tech Week or the show!

Condredge Currie ‘23, Actor:

Wearing masks while acting was an experience that was manageable, but it changed the experience entirely. I couldn’t explore every aspect of my role as much as I wanted because of the fatigue I felt wearing a mask. I was sometimes overwhelmed with delivering lines, moving, and simply trying to breathe.

Michael Bolgov ‘23, Actor:

The Covid protocols that affected us most were the masking and the seating restriction. I know of many people who couldn’t attend the show because the time that worked for them was fully booked, which made me upset, but it was also understandable why they imposed this rule. The masking also affected us, as the show we were doing was Shakespeare, which is hard to understand even when the audience can see and hear the cast fully. This just imposed a small challenge to us, as actors, to make sure that everyone heard us and understood everything we said.

Theo Chitkushev ‘24, Actor:

Obviously being masked was annoying, but other than that not much changed. However, this definitely wouldn’t have been possible with last year’s distancing guidelines.

What was your favorite part of the winter play?

Suzie Marcus ‘22, Stage Manager:

My favorite part of the play was the quick changes and the very organized chaos of everything—that’s why I love being stage manager. I also enjoyed greeting the actors once they came off stage and hyping them up in between scenes.

Condredge Currie ‘23, Actor:

My favorite part of the winter play would have to be the cast. We formed a strong bond, and it strengthened our experience overall. Being together and creating those memories and producing a work of art is a unique experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. 

Michael Bolgov ‘23, Actor:

My favorite part was the community we created in our cast. We all became really close friends throughout this show.

Theo Chitkushev ‘24, Actor:

I really liked seeing the BUA community come together and laugh in the audience, especially during the Friday show!

What are your plans for the spring musical? 

Mr. Gardiner, Director:

We are doing a new musical called ALiEN8. It was written by a group called Ignition Arts, based on interviews with teenagers about issues that resonate with them. It premiered at Drexel University in 2019 and hasn’t been performed since then. We’ll be the first group of high schoolers to present the piece. The action of the play takes place in a small town in the Midwest that has just recovered from a tornado. Out of the storm a mysterious stranger, named 8, appears. People aren’t sure about 8’s gender, backstory, or anything really except that 8 seems to be of high-school age. 8 teaches the students its language, which is based on movement or gesture. Learning the language opens up students and eventually the town to confronting how they dealt with a traumatic incident in the town’s recent history.

A Review of The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals

by Theo Sloan


February 25, 2022

The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is a horror-comedy musical produced by Team Starkid. It was written and directed by Matt and Nick Lang, with music and lyrics by Jeff Blim, and it stars Jon Matteson, Lauren Lopez, Jeff Blim, Joey Richter, Jaime Lyn Beatty, Mariah Rose Faith, Corey Dorris, and Robert Manion. It’s also free to watch on YouTube and well worth the watch if you have a couple hours to spare. It’s set in the fictional town of Hatchetfield and follows a simple man named Paul as his worst nightmare comes to life: the world turns into a musical. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the most important part of a musical is its music, because that is almost always the thing that will stick with the audience the longest. You can have a fantastic story with interesting, well-developed characters, and it will still only work as a musical if the songs are good; on the flip side, it is very possible for a musical to have a bad or even problematic story, and for that to not really matter because the songs are good (e.g., Dear Evan Hansen). While I definitely don’t love every song in The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals, most of them range from good to fantastic, and the soundtrack as a whole is pretty listenable even outside the context of the show. A few of my personal favorites are the opening number and title track, “The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals,” as well as “Let It Out,” “Inevitable,” “Join Us (and Die),” “La Dee Dah Dah Day,” and “Show Stoppin Number.” The opening number serves as a great tone-setter, not only establishing the comedic chops of the cast, but also introducing the basic premise and main character. It’s super high-energy and has some really fun jokes sprinkled throughout. It also gives every cast member a chance to sing a line or two, so it introduces us to them all as performers and gives us a little idea as to what to expect going forward. “Let It Out” and “Inevitable” are the two songs that close out the show. “Let It Out” features some of the best acting in the show, and really showcases what Jon Matteson, who plays Paul, is capable of, both as an actor and a singer. I don’t want to get too much into what “Inevitable” is about, as it’s a fairly large spoiler, but suffice to say that it serves as a very good representation of this show at its very best, both as a comedy and a horror story, not to mention that it features an excellent medley of all the major songs sung in the show up until that point and is led by another fantastic vocal performance by Jon. “Join Us (and Die)” is the show’s first turn into full horror and also showcases Jaime Lyn Beatty’s stunning vocal range; “La Dee Dah Dah Day” is a fun, upbeat ensemble number in which the comedic side of the show is dialed up to eleven; and “Show Stoppin Number” is an acid trip of an interlude, led by Robert Manion, in which you question both your own sanity and the sanity of everyone involved in putting the number together. It’s also some of the best satire of musical theater as a genre to ever exist. Suffice to say, I really like a lot of the music in this show.

However, that’s not to say that every song in the show works for me on a musical level. “Tied Up My Heart” is a song with some fantastic choreography on Jeff Blim’s end, but it goes on for too long, and the singing is iffy at best and grating at worst. It still makes for an entertaining scene, but it would have been better if it were written in Blim’s natural range and went on for less time. The other song that I don’t really like is “Not Your Seed,” the song that kicks off the second act. My main problem here is that it cycles through musical ideas very quickly; as a result, it’s very difficult to ever properly get into the scene. Just when I’m vibing with one style, it completely switches up, and this creates a sense of whiplash when listening to it. But Mariah Rose Faith’s voice is absolutely incredible. Do not mistake this as me criticizing her performance, because she does the best she possibly can with the material she’s given.

Another element of this show that shines throughout is the choreography. From Blim’s dance that he does tied to a chair, to Manion’s insane dancing during “Show Stoppin Number,” to Matteson’s fight with himself in “Let It Out,” the choreography in the show never fails to build on the music in a creative, visually engaging way. It’s able to elevate songs that I don’t much care for, such as “Tied Up My Heart,” into scenes that I find fun to watch, and that alone speaks volumes about its quality.

Now besides the musical aspect, the other most important part of a musical is its writing, both in terms of overall story and screenplay. In terms of story, I think this show is simply brilliant. I love the idea of a musical apocalypse, and I think it’s executed very well. It’s sufficiently goofy when it needs to be, sufficiently terrifying when it needs to be, and it does a surprisingly good job blending the horror and the comedy together. The show is, in many ways, an homage to the over-the-top and campy horror films of the 1980s, and by embracing that tone, it’s able to get away with a lot that many modern horror stories would not be able to. The primary thing that comes to mind is the practical gore effects, which are somehow both excellent and patently ridiculous at the same time. All that is to say that the concept is excellent.

The script, on the other hand, is a bit tricky. Full disclosure, I absolutely adore it, I find the comedy in it to be absolutely fantastic, and I doubt I will ever get tired of watching it. However, I acknowledge that comedy is a very subjective medium, and it’s very likely that some people will watch the show and just not like the style it’s written in. While there are some jokes that I’m comfortable with describing as unambiguously excellent, such as the bit involving walking through the audience, the entirety of “Show Stoppin Number,” and some of the physical comedy in the coffee shop numbers, the comedy in the show is often quite R-rated, and depending on what type of humor you enjoy, your enjoyment of the show will likely vary.

Finally, I’d like to touch on the characters. This show has a fairly small cast, so pretty much everyone plays multiple characters in the show, with the exception of Matteson. A few personal favorites of mine are General John MacNamara, portrayed by Blim; Emma Perkins, portrayed by Lopez; and Paul, portrayed by Matteson. All three have the most distinct characterizations out of the larger ensemble, but that’s not to say that I dislike any of the characters in the show. Sure, there are one or two who feel a tad more like caricatures than fully fleshed out people, but I think that fits with the overall tone that The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is going for. And importantly, Paul and Emma, the two main characters of the show, do go through compelling and nuanced character arcs.

Overall, I think The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is a fantastic show. It has great songs, better choreography, and a very solid story that, tying it all together, often passes into greatness. Not to mention, I find the jokes to be really funny, although I understand that will vary a fair amount depending on the comedic style you enjoy. I personally really like the show, and I highly recommend checking it out. You have literally no excuse not to, because it’s free to watch on YouTube!