Grease Live… at Penn Manor High School

By Peyton Cassel

Penn Manor High School is starting off spring with a well-renowned musical, “Grease.” It’s the classic love story of a good girl and bad boy, set back in the 1950s high school era. With the recent performance of “Grease Live” on FOX, cast members and directors are expecting a phenomenal show and a large audience.

“We actually didn’t know about “Grease Live” when we picked the show,” explained Mrs. Melissa Minzter, assistant director of the play. “We were looking at lots of different shows to produce this year. This one just fit the roles we were looking for.”

But like every theater production, they had their share of difficulty. Mrs. Minzter expressed the challenges of having to schedule around snow. Delayed rehearsals and the pressure of matching a standard might stress some of the cast members. But, this isn’t the case at all.

“I feel that we’ll be able to do it justice,” said Haley Hoffer, a senior playing Rizzo (leader of the Pink Ladies) in the production. “We’re definitely going to get a larger crowd, because everyone is aware of it.”

Hoffer isn’t the only actor feeling confident. Will Torres, another senior in the production, explained that, “we’ve all put in hard work and have confidence in each other’s abilities. What we’re going to put on the stage is going to impress and blow everyone’s minds.”

Will plays Johnny Casino, band leader at the prom, and will also be playing saxophone in pit. This is his first year performing as part of the cast.

“Being on stage, it’s really opened my eyes and given me a new appreciation,” said Torres.

The theater department will host a raffle during intermission. Prizes include Pink Ladies and T-Bird buttons   sent directly from FOX due to the original Grease Live performance — and several T-shirts.

Tickets cost $7 for students and $9 for adults. They may be purchased through any student, cast, or crew member at lunch. (They can also be purchased online, at The first performance is tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Additional performance dates include March 5, 11 and 12. A Saturday matinee will be provided for senior citizens on March 5 at 2 p.m.

Percussion ensemble: What is it?

By Peyton Cassel

Senior Caleb Breidenbaugh plays a marimba.
Senior Caleb Breidenbaugh plays a marimba.


Percussion ensemble is a group that uses marimbas, vibraphones, bells, and other keyboard instruments to rehearse and perform during the school year. Directed by Luke Helker, the ensemble plays a variety of contemporary classical music. The group has 18 members total, and its participants are Penn Manor High School students.

According to Mr. Helker, “the percussion ensemble itself is a relatively new type of performing ensemble … but has grown in popularity.” It’s resulted in an “abundance” of things to play, and focuses on “providing musicians of all ages and skills the opportunity to be exposed to a new world of contemporary chamber music.”

Despite how new percussion ensembles are, this is not Penn Manor’s first year at it.

“I actually founded the ensemble in the fall of 2012, and we had our first performance that following spring,” said Helker. “It’s taken a while for it to get up and running, but it is now functioning like a well-oiled machine.”

Helker enjoys teaching students who are eager enough to try something new and helps them learn musical “history, theory, and etiquette” to prepare them for a musical career or path they might choose in the future.

Katherine Green, a freshman in the ensemble, described it as, “a great experience to learn multiple percussion instruments.”

Musical skill or background is not required, but is recommended if you’re looking to join. Caleb Breidenbaugh, a senior in the ensemble, said, “we have several students who were not percussionists before they joined, so whether you’re an experienced percussionist or just someone who’s interested in learning the basics, there’s something here for everyone.”

While there are no openings for students to join this semester, the group will have openings available for the spring semester.

“If anyone is interested in performing with us next semester, you’re more than welcome to get in touch,” said Helker. “Not all of the music has been selected, so we can take as many interested students as possible.”
The ensemble rehearses at the high school every Thursday from 6-9 p.m. during the school year. Rehearsals are held in the band room (249). 

Interstellar provides sneak peek of future

By Parker Wales

interstellarDirector Christopher Nolan becomes the all-seeing eyes into our future in his new movie Interstellar. Planet Earth meets its greatest environmental disaster. The Earth suffers blight and a gigantic dust bowl that slowly causes it to become uninhabitable.

Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), the main character of the movie, is a former member of NASA now living with his daughter Murph (Jessica Chastain) and father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow). Murph was getting in trouble at school claiming that the moon landing was fake to justify the “wasting” of important resources on the space program.

NASA has gone underground and came up with a plan to save the Earth’s population. This top-secret operation requires Coop to be the commander along side of his former mentor Dr. Brand (Anne Hathaway). The operation requires the use of a worm-hole to another galaxy where Brand thinks there is intelligent life.

There are major sacrifices that Coop has to face with his family. Decades pass on earth with messages coming from Murph. Coop plays them back, and creates one of the best scenes of the movie.

The height of the movie presents itself with the exploration into the wormhole. This mind-blowing scene shows the sheer extent of our imagination. Interstellar is movie of suspense and emotion reveals a “sneak peek” into what could be our future.

Sony Hacked by North Korea

By: Claudia Pluck

After Sony was hacked on November 24th, people set out to find out  who was responsible for infiltrating this big time movie company and why. According to Johnson and others from USA TODAY, when Sony was hacked on November 24th, red skeletons glowing appeared on screens in Culver City, California on Sony grounds.

USA TODAY says that it has been determined that North Korea was behind the elusive attacks. Johnson and the others also say that the U.S. investigators say that the attacks might not have taken place in North Korea, but outside of the country and was still coordinated by the North Korean leaders. They also say that on Tuesday of last week the hackers, who officially call themselves the Guardians of Peace, would attack all movie theaters that would play the movie The Interview, in a 9/11 type of attack. The reason for not wanting the movie to be released in theaters is that it depicts two American TV journalists, played by Seth Rogen and James Franco, who travel to North Korea to assassinate Kim Jong-un. The movie was to be released on Christmas day, but Sony has decided to not release the film now.

According to USA TODAY, the hackers stole more than 38 million files and put them on to websites where people could see the movies, some of which were not yet released. They say that the files included things like Sony films, the script to the newest James Bond movie, and personal information such as staff salary reports.

Johnson and the others also say that this is something that they haven’t seen since around the 1990’s when people would hack into places and laugh later on about how cool they were for doing it. They also say that this is not the first time North Korea has been suspected for hacking into places because they didn’t agree with the people .


The Plot, Like Gravy, Thickens: An Interview with Two Cast Members

by Bobbi Unger

On November 21st and 22nd Penn Manor’s theater students put on a play.  The Plot, Like Gravy, Thickens is a new experience for the students because they have never done a murder mystery comedy. I had the chance to sit down and ask actresses Lauren Elledge and Madison Beatty some questions about the experience.

When I asked Lauren and Madison why they decided to be in the play, Lauren said, “I wanted to experience theater with school friends.” Madison answered, “Theatre is such a great experience, especially being with your friends and bonding over something you love.”

What were some of their expectations? Lauren thought that the play would go very well, which it did.  She was confident that all of her cast mates would do well. Madison said, “We have such a skilled and talented cast and crew, plus a wonderful group of advisors making this a great experience. I know it will be a great show.”

Lauren played the role of Debra and she enjoyed imitating Alyssa Crook’s every move. Her role in the show was ‘bitter daughter of bitter ex-wife of billionaire’. She helps and loves elderly Aunt Beatrice. Madison was Mrs. Vickers which she said was “a great role to embody and become.” Her main concern in the play is keeping her daughter figure, Edith, away from the playboy and brother-in-law of her employer, Tony Blackwell. She had a lot of fun creating this subplot and making it their own with Paul and Jules.

As for their favorite parts,  Lauren enjoyed all the bad puns and Madison liked all the little things they made up and created to make this play thoroughly funny and fun to play out. For instance, Edith (Jules) left her feather duster on the table for her to find later, leading her in on where she disappeared to. Things like that made this show their own.

Lauren loves improvising as well as watching other castmates improvise, and Madison said it brought the audience into what they experience every second they’re on stage. Plus, it is a great way to get more laughs out of the audience and to have the actors  think on their feet.


“The Fault in Our Stars,” from bestselling novel to world-wide phenomenon

By Lizzie McIlhenneytfios

One of the most-loved novels today is one you’ve probably already heard of, either in a magazine article, in the newspaper or on television: ‘“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. It’s one of those rare books that will have you laughing or crying hysterically, depending which page you’re on.

One of the first scenes is set in a church in Indiana, in Hazel’s support group for teens with cancer, or the “Literal Heart of Jesus”. Here, she meets Augustus Waters, and (to use a well-worn cliche) her life changes. From here, Hazel and Gus share an adventurous relationship that takes them across the world, from Indiana to Amsterdam. The book is about their complicated, rollercoaster relationship.

“The Fault In Our Stars” is one of those books that you keep with you forever, in the back pocket of your heart. What makes the book so special is that it blatantly confronts and defies the stereotypes surrounding cancer and the “typical” cancer patient. Hazel and Augustus are not less whole because of their diseases, quite the contrary. The book emphasizes how their sicknesses are just a “side effect.” It’s not a story about cancer, it’s a story about Hazel and Augustus’s “little infinity.”

But “The Fault In Our Stars” is not one of those books that you can capture in a single review. This book is so much more complex. It’s something you have to experience yourself. One so fantastic and brilliant, that it has turned into a phenomenon.

Since its publication on January 10, 2012, the novel has become a New York Times bestseller. On March 2, 2014, The Fault In Our Stars is still #1 on the Young Adult list after a 64-week reign. Now, the book has been made into a highly anticipated movie, due to release June 6.The trailer, released last month, already has more than 11 million views on YouTube.

The author, John Green, has a huge fan base. People of all ages adore his books, most of which are bestsellers. “Looking for Alaska,” third on the New York Times Young Adult Bestseller list for 64 weeks, and “Paper Towns,” sixth on the list for 50 weeks, are two other popular books of his. Green collaborated with David Levithan, another well known young adult author, for the novel “Will Grayson, Will Grayson.” Also, he shares a YouTube channel, Vlogbrothers, with his brother, Hank Green, that boasts more than 1 million subscribers and hilarious and insightful videos every week.

Live production of “Sound of Music” disappoints many

By Lizzie McIlhenney

The 1965 film “The Sound of Music” is everyone’s childhood favorite. Many of us remember watching Julie Andrews as Maria teaching the Von Trapp children to sing, and learning to sing right along with them. That’s why the “The Sound of Music Live!,” which aired live on NBC on December 5, 2013, was so heavily criticised.

Everyone’s a critic. Especially when it comes to a classic like “The Sound of Music.” Hopes were high for a flawless production, since a misstep or flat high note was left for the 18.6 million people that tuned in for the three hour show to see and hear.

And during the three hours that the production aired a tsunami of tweets poured in. Every note, dance, and flaw was recounted and highlighted a hundred times. Even the original film’s Von Trapp children responded to the production, but they were much kinder critics than those on Twitter.

Angela Cartwright, who played Brigitta in the original film, was quoted in EW that she felt that some of the acting “didn’t come across as sincere.”

Most of the criticisms were not that off base, even if some were unkind. The production had its moments and was enjoyable to watch, but when held by the standards that a Broadway musical is held to, some of the acting and singing just didn’t mesh.

The most scrutinized casting was Carrie Underwood as Maria, and when it was announced that she was to play the iconic role many fans were outraged. She had large shoes to fill and big expectations, and Underwood didn’t exactly deliver exactly what everyone wanted. Her vocals were wonderful, but her acting didn’t measure up to her musical talent. She just couldn’t compare to Julie Andrew’s Maria.

What many people might not know is that “The Sound of Music Live!” was not actually based on the 1965 film . According to NBC, the live production was actually based on the Broadway musical.

NBC seems to be forming a new holiday tradition, because the network has already committed to airing another live musical production in 2014. According to Entertainment Weekly, the next musical event is “Peter Pan,” which will air on December 4.

Music Fridays bring musicians to downtown Lancaster

By Elizabeth McIlhenney

Many people know about Lancaster’s First Friday, but what about Music Friday? On the third Friday of every month, the musicians of Lancaster County come out to the city and play on the sidewalks and street corners, or are hosted at select restaurants, stores and galleries.

A plethora of music styles are represented,  and with every turn, there is a new melody. Meandering the streets of Lancaster, walking down Gallery Row or maybe North Queen Street, one might hear a one man band on one street corner and a folk singer just down the way, with a vibrant sunset as a backdrop. During Music Friday, especially popular in the summer, people of all ages come to listen. Children accompanied by their parents play with the toy instruments set out by some musicians, and small crowds gather around to hear the artists’ music.

Next, stop by Building Character or Art and Glassworks. Art and Glassworks, for example, pays musicians to come and play in their courtyard, and opens their doors to the public for a free concert. One employee at Art and Glassworks, when asked about what she liked most about Music Friday, she said that she “liked to see the recurring faces.” This seems to be a common theme with Music Friday. People stop make sure to stop by and see their favorite musicians, and regular listeners are always greeted with a smile and a hello.

Another event, though not free, is the Signature Concert at Tellus360. This concernt features more acts, or special guests each Music Friday. Tickets are $10.

Partners and sponsors who make Music Friday is a long list, including the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, Music for Everyone, Series 42, Millersville University, and many more. On the the Mayor’s Office of Special Events website, and the Music Friday link there is more information about the events taking place in Music Friday, and some of the artists that are to play. The December Music Friday is set for December 20.

Miley Cyrus: a transformation

By Lauren Hillegas

There is no doubt that the name Miley Cyrus rings a bell to most pop culture fanatics. Recently the media has been buzzing with the young singer/songwriter’s newest transformation. From Disney channel sweetheart to controversial twerker, Miley Cyrus is certainly shedding her former self.

According to the Huffington Post, Cyrus’ transformation began with the release of the first single, “We Can’t Stop”, off her newly released album Bangerz. In the song she sings a controversial lyric, “dancing with molly,” referring to the modern form of MDMA, or ecstasy.

When asked about the line Cyrus explained to The Daily Mail, “It depends who’s doing what. If you’re aged ten [the lyric is] Miley, if you know what I’m talking about then you know.”

On August 25, Cyrus began to stir things up during her performance with pop singer Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV video music awards. Wearing a skimpy and revealing nude latex outfit, Cyrus twerked while singing her hit “We Can’t Stop” and made questionable motions with a prop foam finger.

Her show on stage generated mixed responses from people who were watching from the comfort of their living rooms and also from Hollywood stars. Whether they were congratulating her on proving to the world she’s grown up and moved on from her hit Disney channel series, Hannah Montana, or confused and utterly shocked about her transformation, Cyrus caught the public’s attention.

Cyrus continued to shock the nation when the video for her new single “Wrecking Ball”, premiered on September 9. In the video Cyrus is completely naked swinging on a giant wrecking ball that is strategically placed to conceal her. While some critics say that the music video is an artistic representation of heartbreak, others say it is still quite risque.

Her album Bangerz was released on October 4. The week of October 14, her album took the number one spot on both itunes and on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums.

Regardless of how she is doing it, Miley Cyrus is getting people talking. In her Harper’s Bazaar interview she said, “I was an adult when I was supposed to be a kid. So now I’m an adult acting like a kid.”

A stroll down Queen Street

By Taylor Hager

If you’re anything like most of the people who’ve grown up in Lancaster, PA, this city is too small for you. You’ve become so accustomed to it that it has become boring, dull and bland. If you’ve grown up here, it’s likely that Lancaster doesn’t seem to have much to offer. However, many of us overlook the beauty we’re surrounded by. Though the city may not be new and exciting, it is a place filled with history; a place filled with life. All it takes to recognize this is an attentive, open mind and a stroll down Queen Street.

Although many of us see it every day, most fail to notice the magnificent architecture, innovative design and artsy aspects of Lancaster City. With the right outlook, this place can be full of excitement, beauty and life.