Review: Bet your bottom dollar that ‘Annie’ is still a classic


From the outstanding rendition of “Maybe” until the finale, the classic story of a little orphan girl named Annie, at the Au-Rene Theater stage at Broward Center for the Performing Arts through Oct. 19, is victorious. The curtains opened on the talented cast and crew on Oct. 7, and everyone who saw the show was sure to leave squealing, “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!”

The true star of the show is Annie, played by Florida-native Issie Swickle, who is from Davie. Her loveable acting and exceptional voice creates an energetic, fun-loving tone for the entire 1 (2)

The show follows the character of Annie, an 11 year-old girl, who is determined to find her parents no matter what obstacles come in her way. With the help of billionaire Oliver Warbucks, Annie continues her lifelong search for her mother and father who left her on the stoop of an orphanage in New York City 11 years ago. However, she is soon adopted by Mr. Warbucks and couldn’t be any happier. The play follows the story beautifully, ensuring its success.

The show features an adorable, comedic little girl as Molly (Lilly Mae Stewart) to spark the scenes in the orphanage and the hysterical Mrs. Hannigan (Lynn Andrews) and her two colleagues, Daniel “Rooster” Hannigan  (Garrett Deagon) and Lily St. Regis (Lucy Werner), who provide comic relief throughout the show.

The skillful duo of Grace Farrell (Ashley Edler) and Mr. Warbucks (Gilgamesh Taggett) work together excellently with Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Allan Ray Baker), former U.S. President. The president’s character adds a historical and comedic element to the show with many jokes in store for everyone in the audience.

Of course, the show would not be complete without the utterly adorable dog Sandy, played by a four-year-old rescue terrier mix, Sunny. Each time the dog runs on stage to do mind-blowing tricks, the audience is sure to generate the world’s loudest “Aww!”

The artistic work behind the show is truly incredible. The sets brilliantly make Christmas in New York City from 1933 fit into one room. The beautifully lit Christmas tree and caroling children create a want for Christmas two months early.


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Review: One Direction closes their tour with the ‘best concert ever’


With pitch perfect voices, adorable antics, and impressive lighting and fireworks, One Direction definitely delivered on its “Where We Are” tour, closing it out on Oct. 5 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.

When Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan emerged on stage, they brought an electric presence with them, beginning the show with their album’s title song “Midnight Memories,” accompanied by fireworks and colored lights. Other upbeat songs on the set-list included “Little Black Dress,” “Kiss You” and “Rock Me.”

The most notable part of the night was the fact that it was the last show for the stadium tour after going around the world since April.

The boys were extremely sentimental and grateful with continuous thank-you’s and emotional speeches, which made the night all the more special for fans, especially when they sang slower songs such as “Don’t Forget Where You Belong,” “Little Things,” and “Moments,” when the crowd used phone flashlights to illuminate the venue.

The show was opened by Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer, which is made up of Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood, Ashton Irwin, and Michael Clifford. They sang popular radio hits such as “She Looks So Perfect” and “Amnesia.” They gave an energetic performance that made everybody want to get up and dance. It was very bittersweet, since this is their second and last time touring with One Direction before they kick off their own tour at Cruzan Amphitheatre on Sept. 13, 2015.

Since the stadium is outdoors, the fireworks shooting out of the top added an effect of grandeur and magic to an already magical night.

The stage, which was very large to allow the boys to move around, had a catwalk-like extension that extended into in the crowd. This gave the boys even more room to dance and move around while singing.

Production aside, the boys’ voices sounded even better live than on record. With extra harmonies and melodies and the accompaniment of live instruments, (especially from Horan on the guitar) there is no doubt that these performers are talented. Even though their target audience is teenage girls, they managed to get parents and security guards to sing along to their classic song “What Makes You Beautiful.”

The boys did a great job of blending their set-list, singing songs from all three of their albums: “Up All Night,” “Take Me Home,” and their most recent “Midnight Memories.”

Closing the show with “Best Song Ever,” One Direction made it the best night ever, having the audience of 70,000 dance and sing along, and turning this last concert of the tour into a memorable, sentimental dance party.

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App Review: Evernote



With the start of the new school year, most teachers would agree that it is vital for students to stay organized in order to succeed in their classes. The idea of phones being used during school usually doesn’t sit well with teachers, but the Evernote app will make it almost impossible for teachers to refuse.

Evernote is compatible with any iPod, iPad, or iPhone that is generation five or higher that is updated to iOS7 and any computer. This app was last updated in July 2014 and has received close to five stars in ratings in the iTunes app store.

Using the Evernote app allows users to have full control in what they organize and how they organize it. Evernote is divided into notebooks that the user can create for each topic. After developing multiple notebooks, there is an option to link related topics together. This feature makes it easier and more flexible for the user to expand on an idea while staying organized.

Taking pictures, uploading photos, recording voice memos, and creating a notes are the options a user can choose from in regards to saving their ideas and to-dos. There is an appropriate way to save anything and everything. These choices encourage the user to save ideas because it’s so easy to.

When opening the camera in the app, the user has several modes the to choose from for the camera. Each mode adjusts to the type of object the user is capturing. There is a mode for capturing a Post-It note, document, business cards, and normal every day photos.

The user can also upload photos from an album already saved on his phone or computer. Taking pictures of assignments on the board or taking pictures of notes to have easy access to study from are common needs students have. Having several options ensures that what a user is photographing is at the best quality for each specific photo and is easy to find and use.

Evernote is available for free in any app store and is available for download on any computer, making it convenient for the user to set reminders, create checklists, and update their notebooks at any time.  Each user must create an account to keep everything connected. As the user updates things through the computer, it automatically updates onto the app.

For users with restricted data on their cellular device, this app updates in the background by accessing the Internet. Evernote is updating the information being added constantly and uses the Internet to send the user push notifications for reminders set through the app. There is an option to restrict the automatic synchronization to occur only when the phone is connected to Wi-Fi. This could be an issue for some users, but can be adjusted through the settings in the app.

This app, made in mind for students, will help organize the Bay’s student body as they prepare more efficiently and clear ways of getting their work done quickly all through the school year.

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Review: The Kooks’ new album is worth a ‘Listen’


This year the indie rock world is coming of age. Fresh faced Vampire Weekend shed their upbeat, preppy style for darker themes and ominous music, and the youthfully rebellious Arctic Monkeys refined their style with adult themes on the critically acclaimed album “AM.” The Kooks followed in this trend as they released their fourth studio album “Listen” on Sept. 2.kooks

Ditching the lighthearted guitar jangles of hit singles like “Naïve” and “She Moves in Her Own Way,” The Kooks attempt to blend 1980s synthesizers with classic soulful elements that have fans questioning if this new sound is the right move for the famously clean-cut band.

Lead singer Luke Pritchard’s famous nasal vocals don’t seem to match with the heavier bass lines and jagged guitar riffs featured on “Listen.” Even the most dedicated fans won’t expect Pitchard to loop the nonsense lyrics “down down diggy diggy” on the album’s lead single, “Down,” the band’s attempt to revive ‘70s funk in British rock. However, “Around Town” seems to make all the waves of booming sound work, rounding out all of the noise with a smooth gospel choir singing backup vocals.

The old Kooks are not completely lost. “Dream,” a lovelorn ballad, still contains the sweet, airy tones of past albums like “Inside In/Inside Out” and “Junk of the Heart.” The breathy sounds in Pritchard’s voice are a friendly reminder that the Kooks still produce music that is not only entertaining, but somehow creates a warm and fuzzy feeling deep inside.

As unfitting as this new sound seems, the Kooks still manage to piece together a fairly entertaining 11-track compilation. The combination of synthesizers and soul will attract fans of Phoenix and Two Door Cinema Club, but longtime fans will have to adjust to the new sound.

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AMT sets calendar for three shows


American Musical Theater teacher Cynthia Lutwin announced that this year AMT will be producing three plays for spring: “Once on this Island” (AMT1), “Beauty and the Beast” (AMT2), and “In the Heights” (AMT3). Auditions were held on Sept. 2.

The 185 students in AMT will be putting on three different shows, unlike in the past when they have only performed two. This is due to the addition of a higher-level AMT class for advanced performers who have completed one or more years in AMT at Cypress Bay.AMT.jpg

“It’s going to be different having three different levels of actors to work with this year,” Mrs. Lutwin said. “I’m looking for devotion and seriousness from my casts this year.”

Mrs. Lutwin said she feels more excited than overwhelmed to have three different AMT classes this year and is looking forward to seeing a variety of acting skills from her students.

“My favorite part of teaching is watching my students grow and learn new things,” she said.

The AMT classes rehearse for four months by working out and memorizing lines. The productions will start with “Once on this Island” from March 11-14, “Beauty and the Beast” from April 8-10, and “In the Heights” on April 16 and 17.

“I am more than excited for this year, and can’t wait to see how well everyone performs,” Mrs. Lutwin said.

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Review: Novel sends readers down a spiral of tragedy, love and lies


“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart is a coming-of-age novel telling an enchanting story that will send the reader along an avenue of tragedy, love and lies. The novel is a mysterious and intriguing page-turner that will send the reader down an abyss of how family fortune can turn into betrayal.

The book enters the world of the highly wealthy Sinclair family who owns a mansion on Martha’s Vineyard. A young family friend named Gat visits the island and falls for the eldest cousin, Cadence Sinclair. There is a mystery behind the cause of a misadventure in which one of them survives a horrible accident on the island, but cannot remember a thing.We Were Liars

The story focuses on how love in a family can lead to lies and deceit. As the teen love between Gat and Cadence grows stronger, a family member does not approve and a trigger sparks the accident. The family tries to trace back to what the cause was of the horrid accident but are only brought to a dead-end. It’s a mystery and everyone plays his/her part in uncovering why it happened. The reader will nearly feel like a Sinclair family member uncovering the mystery because the writing is in such great detail.

It is entertaining to read because there are so many aspects of different emotions taking place as the story builds and new scenarios take place. The accident creates an uprising beyond belief. No one expects such a tragedy to take place in such a wealthy, put-together family

The writing and character building is beautiful, making the story itself stand apart from the rest of today’s young adult novels. Lockhart’s main characters, Cadence and Gat are a good reflection of teenagers today because they deal with familiar struggles like romance and heartbreak.

The reader can relate to this story because it is a tale full of adventure of four close teenage cousins who experience romance and heartbreak.

This book also contains many meaningful morals, such as that money can’t buy happiness. It focuses on the harsh consequences of a wealthy family who seem to have everything but lack love, which is the most important quality that holds life together.

Lockhart also ties in other themes like romance which helps to take a break from the continuous mystery.

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Review: Video Music Awards cause annual excitement



In the music industry, men have appeared to be in control. But at the annual MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) on Aug. 24, many female artists were able to prove otherwise. Performances from artists such as Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Taylor Swift, and others proved that the 2014 VMAs will be one to remember.

Beyoncé easily had the best performance of the night, performing a mashup of songs from her self-titled visual album, which has earned worldwide success. Beyoncé’s performance was flawless, as she transitioned from one song to the other effortlessly. She made the home audience feel as if they were watching a concert of her live, as that’s how spectacular she was. Some of the more known songs that she sang snippets of included “Drunk in Love,” “Flawless,” “XO,” and “Partition.”VMAs

After the performance, husband Jay-Z and daughter Blue Ivy awarded her with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, which is given to musicians who have significantly made an impact on MTV and music culture. Jay-Z and Beyoncé kissed on stage, dismissing the rumors of the divorce between the couple that were once present.

The opening act included the trio of Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj, singing their collaborative song, “Bang Bang.” Grande and Minaj first sang their popular hits, “Break Free” and “Anaconda.” The performance as a whole was a great way to open the VMAs, showing that females are getting more recognition than ever in the music world.

Miley Cyrus won the Moonman, which is the name of the award that the VMAs give out, for Video of the Year with her video for her hit ballad “Wrecking Ball,” but instead of going on stage to accept her award, she had Jesse, a homeless youth, accept in in her honor. Jesse proceeded to talk about the runaways and homeless youth in America and how citizens can help them. This was well-received by the audience, and a great way for Cyrus to promote a cause.

Ed Sheeran won the Best Male Video for “Sing,” Katy Perry won the Best Female Video for “Dark Horse,” and Fifth Harmony won the Artist to Watch award, the first girl group to win a VMA since 2008.

Taylor Swift and Iggy Azalea were able to showcase their new hits during the VMAs. Swift sang her new pop hit “Shake it Off,” shedding off her old style and introducing herself as a a more free-willed person no longer relying on anyone else. The funniest part of her performance was when she stopped the song and decided not to jump off a platform that she had put on stage, with the platform saying “1989” as a reference to her upcoming album. “I don’t care if it’s the VMAs, I don’t want to hurt myself,” she said, walking around it to then finish off her song.

When Azalea and Rita Ora sang their collaborative hit “Black Widow” for the first time, their performance exceeded everyone’s expectations. Azalea’s effortless raps and Ora’s ability to hit all of her notes, along with the upbeat tune of the song, pumped up the audience, including Swift, who was seen dancing the entire time.

In the middle of the show, MTV presented a short, minute-long tribute to Robin Williams with Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars” in the background. It was nice of MTV to give a tribute, but they could have executed it in a better manner. To do this, they could have had somebody introduce the tribute instead of placing it unannounced before a commercial break.

The 2014 VMAs could have improved from past years’ shows, but it was still a remarkable award ceremony.

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Review: OneRepublic dazzles audience in end-of-summer concert

Review: OneRepublic dazzles audience in end-of-summer concert



Energetic, emotional, dazzling, surprising. When one thinks of pop rock band OneRepublic, these words might come to mind. Its performance at Cruzan Amphitheater on Aug. 17, however, managed to surpass these expectations and amaze the crowd with an incredible show full of laughs, lights, and amazing music. The show, which was opened by singer-songwriter Jamie Scott and pop rock band The Script, represented OneRepublic’s musical ability through the use of instruments such as the violin and cello.

OneRepublic, composed of frontman Ryan Tedder, guitarist Zach Filkins, bassist Drew Brown, drummer Eddie Fisher, and bassist and cellist Bent Kutzle, started off the exciting set by projecting the members’ shadows on a blank screen and playing “Light It Up,” a song from its most recent album, “Native.” The beginning of the show lackedsome energy, but frontman Tedder quickly picked up the pace and outshined his band members with his strong voice and talent, which was best displayed through his use of the piano, guitar, and percussion.

The band’s use of string instruments instead of recordings also added to the performance, especially in “Secrets,” where a violin and a cello were used. By the encore, most of the crowd had fallen in love with the performance, which made its cover of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” all the more powerful. The set was both surprising and exciting, and demonstrated just exactly how a group of five men was able to attract a crowd of 10,000.

Scott and The Script were the best opening choices for a band like OneRepublic, not only because of the similar genres, but also because of The Script’s active performance, which helped excite the crowd by the time theheadliner made its way onstage.Scott’s performance was more lackluster because he mainly used an iPad to read from and had no props, although he managed to surprise the crowd with his version of “Story of My Life,” which he wrote along with One Direction for their latest album, “Midnight Memories.”

He was then followed by The Script’s lively and entertaining set, highlighted by frontman Danny O’Donoghue’s connection to the music and the crowd. His energetic style helped give the perfect introduction for a band like OneRepublic, and quickly engaged the crowd with some of its new and old music.

The entire concert was extremely lively and showed each band’s different way of engaging a crowd, whether through its personality or just by the music itself. Although Scott’s performance wasn’t the best, The Script and OneRepublic made the show as memorable as possible and were definitely worth seeing.

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Review: Panic! at the Disco attracts crowd at Mizner Park



Panic! at the Disco’s “This is Gospel” tour attracted hundreds of screaming fans from all age groups to Mizner Park in Boca Raton on Aug. 15.DSC00601

Once Panic! and lead singer Brendon Urie took the stage, the crowd went nuts. They were pushing forward to get closer to the iconic frontman. Panic! also received incredible audience participation during a surprise cover of the Queen hit “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The crowd knew all the words and happily sang along with Urie.

The audience was incredibly energetic and was singing and dancing along to every song. This was important because it helped add to the dynamism of the performers, who later stuck around to perform for longer than originally intended.

Urie and his band initially appeared on stage in sport coats, but the lead singer quickly became too warm due to the Florida humidity and removed both the coat and his shirt. While this is far from what audience members were expecting, it was a welcome surprise and really showcased Urie’s confidence as a performer.

Urie was extremely honest with his audience and fed them bits of inside information pertaining to a few of his most popular songs. For example, concert-goers learned that “Miss Jackson” is actually about the mother of a girl he used to date. These intimate details helped form a bond between Urie and the audience.

The venue itself was perfect for a general admission concert and had just enough elevation that it was easy to see the performers in detail. It could get a bit cramped as everyone crowded around the stage, but security helped ease the issue and provided great crowd control. Also, there are many decent and affordable restaurant options just outside the arena where concert-goers could grab a quick bite before the show.

Panic!’s opening acts included lesser known bands such as Youngblood Hawke and Walk the Moon. Youngblood Hawke had a very breezy and upbeat sound, while Walk The Moon proved to be more of a traditional alternative rock band. Both acts were able to play for about an hour and succeeded in hyping up the crowd, and the only lull in the concert took place while the roadies were setting up for Panic!.

Panic! at the Disco put on a great, high-energy show that left its audience breathless and on an adrenaline rush.

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Exclusive interview with the stars of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

Exclusive interview with the stars of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

“The Fault in Our Stars,” the film adaptation of John Green’s best-selling novel, is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. Its popularity among teenagers since the book’s release in 2012 has led to the excitement for its big screen release on June 6. Narrated by 16-year-old cancer patient Hazel Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) as her life changes when she meets 17-year-old Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) in a support group, “The Fault In Our Stars” is more than just a love story, but a lesson about how to enjoy life no matter the circumstances. The Circuit’s Online Arts & Entertainment editor Jennifer Schonberger was one of four people who got the chance to participate in a round table interview with John Green, Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Miami on May 7.

tfiosHow did you get the film going in the right direction so it wasn’t too clichéd or melodramatic?

Shailene: The luckiest thing for us is that John Green made a book that wasn’t melodramatic or exaggerated or underplayed. So our only job was to pay homage to the book and try and bring it to life in the most authentic way possible.

John: When I was writing the novel, I tried really hard to find a way to be honest, which means not being afraid to be emotional, but it also means not being melodramatic. That was the line I tried to ride and I thought that everybody did a great job with that in their performances.

Nat: (Holds up paper in which he wrote, ‘We wanted the movie to be funny as well as sad.’) I was ready for that question.

Shailene: He’s going to hold that exact thing up, by the way, for every question.

Nat: I think any story that’s good and truthful will be funny and sad, because everybody’s life is both funny and sad.

What influence did the community have on you and the movie overall? 

John: It started with the community influencing the book. The online community that surrounds the videos my brother and I make helps me every day because they remind me of what teenagers are interested in, how teenagers express themselves, and that teens, despite what we may hear in mass media, are actually really intellectually curious and thoughtful. So it started there, but they influenced the movie because we had a healthy fear of fans of the book. We didn’t want them to be mad at us.

Ansel: People always ask me if I was scared to take on this role. Yeah, I was. (laughs) This is a really important role, and Augustus Waters is a really important character, and I didn’t want to mess that up because the book was good how it was. So who am I to come in here and ruin that for someone? But I’m very glad because now that I’ve seen the movie, I watch it as objectively as I can and I think that we did a good job making it.

John: I really think it honors the book and if I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be on this tour.

Shailene: I wouldn’t be here either.

Nat: I would. (Everyone laughs.)

John, what was your biggest fear when they came to you to make TFIOS into a movie?

John: I said no initially. I said no to a lot of people. One person said to me “we can’t have too much cancer.” But that’s what the movie’s about. The whole idea of the book for me was that it was going to be about sick people, and not about healthy people learning lessons from sick people, because I hate that. I think that dehumanizes sick people: to say that they exist so that healthy people can learn lessons in life. It’s a great testament to everyone at this table and also to the director Josh Boone and to everyone involved in the movie that [the movie came out as well as it did]. And to the people at Fox, it goes against everything that you are told about the movie-making business to make a movie where the female romantic lead, who’s supposed to be aspirational, has tubes in her nose and where the male romantic lead is an amputee.

Shailene: In the movie poster–and this is a studio film, not an independent film–they touched me up just a little bit, maybe a lot a bit. But still if you look at it, I’m not wearing eye shadow, I had a little bit of brown mascara on, that’s my natural lip color, and I’m wearing a cannula [a medical tube]. In every single scene in this movie, I’m wearing a cannula except for in the very beginning. That doesn’t happen in movies. To have a female lead look the way that Hazel looks in this movie, I think is kind of redefining the paradigm in which cinema looks at females. And I feel so proud about it and so lucky.

John: Even the way she dresses in the movie, she doesn’t dress provocatively.

When you met with actual cancer survivors before filming, what impact did that have on the film?

Ansel: I think that after reading the book, the whole idea is that the illness doesn’t define these characters. And when we meet the people who have cancer in real life, it only supports that.

Shailene: What I thought was really amazing in so many ways was that very rarely did I actually talk about cancer with them. They were very open about what they were going through, but still we would just talk about what anyone else would talk about. For me, it was really beautiful because it was the first time that I had ever spent that much time around somebody who was going through something like that, and it completely validated in a sense the way that you [John] wrote Hazel and Gus. Hazel and Gus would say things like ‘Cancertastic,’ not making fun, but making light of it and being able to speak real about it.

There are a lot of tears in this movie. As actors, is it ever hard for you to cry?

Ansel: It doesn’t matter if it’s written, it’s if it feels right. Like when Augustus was at the gas station, yelling that he didn’t want to live anymore and all that stuff, it’s the worst feeling ever. He feels useless and he feels like he shouldn’t be around anymore. So that’s obviously when he would cry. In those kinds of moments, it’s easy and it just comes out.

Shailene: You submit to the truth of what the characters are going through.

Nat: I think part of this movie that was good is that we all became so close, so some of the scenes really felt emotional. Like the eulogy scene was actually emotional to film.

John: That’s why I can’t be an actor (laughs). I can’t submit completely, and I think being able to do so is a beautiful talent.

What influence would you say literature had on the writing of the book and the making of the movie?

John: I drew a lot on Gatsby, with the green light– Monica’s green car. At one point Gus says a line like “that car looks like all the dreams that we were foolish to hope,” and that was directly from Gatsby. I also like writing about characters who read a lot because I know that the people who read my books are often predisposed to read a lot. I know that “The Fault In Our Stars” is not as good as Gatsby; I don’t want to sound like I’m very pleased with myself. But I do love to write in the context of other books, because I love other books, and I love being a reader.

Shailene: [to John] I think you have every right in the world to be very pleased with yourself.

John: Aw, thanks buddy.

Nat: Also because the way he looks is nice.

John: Oh yeah, cause I’m handsome.

(Everyone laughs.)

Do you think you will ever write “An Imperial Affliction”?

John: No, I’ll never write “An Imperial Affliction,” I don’t think. That’s the great thing about books that don’t exist; they can be better than books that do.

What do you think was the hardest scene to film as actors?

Shailene: I thought the egg scene was pretty hard, only because it’s so fun and light. A moment like that is so important in a movie like this because it’s so real and so genuine and it’s so light and free. For me, it’s harder to laugh in a scene than it is to cry, so that was a little bit tricky.

Nat: I thought the trophy scene was hardest for me because you’re balancing the reality of that scene.

Ansel: For me it was the gas station scene, just because there’s a lot of pressure on that one. It’s tough. The hard part of our job sometimes is submitting fully to the moment. I think it wasn’t till the third or fourth take that I actually went there. It’s an emotional scene.

The movie followed the book almost perfectly, but how did you decide which scenes to put in and take out from the book?

John: I think [Michael] Weber and [Scott] Neustadter did an amazing job, the guys who wrote the screenplay. They understood what was dramatically necessary and how to make it into a two-hour movie that was going to feel like the book. I thought they made perfect choices, so I didn’t have any notes when they sent me the script. I was like ‘I want to be mad about something, but I can’t be.’

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