Behind the Scenes of “The Pajama Game”

Samford University just put on its spring musical, “The Pajama Game.” This musical revolves around a pajama factory in the 1950s. The employees go on strike because their boss refuses to give them a 7 1/2-cent raise.

I was fortunate enough to be on set and run crew for the show, enabling me to see first hand how the process of a show really works. Like any other show with a cast of 26 and more than 10 on crew backstage, preparing for it has been a full-department effort.

The production of a show starts weeks and sometimes months in advance (depending on the show) with read-through rehearsals, and in the case of musicals, dance rehearsals as well.

Costume and set designs sometimes start the prior semester and are continuously worked on, up until show week. A few weeks before dress rehearsals begin, the show rehearsals move to the stage, so the director can block the scenes. Here the actors get a feel of where they are supposed to stand or walk, and when.

Before full dress rehearsals can begin, the cast and crew hold a “cue-to-cue,” which is where the technical crew literally goes from cue to cue to make sure the transitions run smoothly. Cue-to-cue begins show week. Dress rehearsals follow, and before you know it, it’s opening night.

For “The Pajama Game,” we performed four days (Thursday through Sunday). It took a lot to get to the finished project, but in the end it was well worth it.

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Photos by Lyanna Saito

The Pajama Game

Summer Office Attire

By Reed Richardson

Counting down the days until summer? We are too. And as a working gal, that means adjusting outfits to the summer heat while remaining appropriate and professional. Here are five fun pieces to try.

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The cropped trouser

Pants are always appropriate for the office, and if you wear a lighter fabric with a pinch of a higher hemline, you will be oh-so-ready for summer. Bright colors and floral prints can only help your cause. Pair with your favorite flats or heels and perhaps a complementing blazer for the finished look.

(Click picture for product information.)

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The shirtdress

Put on this one-piece button down, slide into your favorite pumps and grab the car keys because you’re ready to go. Sporting a shirtdress is easy breezy, and if you wear one with long sleeves, there is no need to tote around a cardigan. Perhaps this piece is more for the business casual crowd, but all in all it’s a fabulous choice for comfort and cuteness.

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The peplum shell

Sometimes a lady just needs to wear a suit, and that’s fine! But every once in a while put a little pep in your step by pairing it with a lovely peplum shell. It gives fun and feminine flair under that serious suit.

*Remember this is recommended to be worn under a blazer, jacket, etc.

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The peep-toe

 Depending on your office dress code, your company may or may not allow a summery sandal. But never fear! You corporate working gals can have just as much fun with a peep-toe pump or wedge. This classy style lets your feet breathe and your pedicure show, all while remaining positively professional.

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The textured skirt

A skirt is a lady’s best friend in the heat of summer. Not only can you perk up your bottom ensemble with bold prints and happy colors, but you can also try incorporating various textures such as lace, tweed and leather. Who’s stopping you?

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*Whatever you wear, wherever you work, don’t forget these top five no-nos concerning the workplace wardrobe.

1. No sheer or see-through clothing. Just because you have plans after work, doesn’t mean they should interfere with work wardrobe policies. Besides, offices are most likely a little chilly.

2. No flip flops, sneakers, sandals. Unless you work at a super laid back company, or perhaps you happen to be the next Steve Jobs, you gotta dress the part, head to TOE.

3. No plunging necklines. One open button should be enough. Please refer back to no-no #1.

4. No sleeveless shirts. This rule generally applies to the more business formal workplaces. But for the most part, it’s a good rule to follow, and it’s never a bad idea to have a light layer whether cotton cardigan, linen blazer or even a simple cap-sleeve.

5. No shorts. Is an explanation even necessary?

 

 

Photos courtesy of polyvore.com

Pick 5: Birmingham’s Best Brunch Stops

This week’s Pick Five compiled the best brunch stops the Birmingham area has to offer.

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Photos by Kaitlin Bitz

Birmingham Street Style: Week six

Leslie Pittman, owner of Laura Kathryn boutique

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Necklace from Deepagurmani, a designer in India

Dress from Parameter

Watch from Michael Kors

Gold bracelets from Gorjana

 

What is your favorite piece of clothing you own in your closet?

(At the moment), I have these adorable shorts by Waverly Grey.  They have a tribal print and are amazing!

How would you describe your style?

Bohemian with an edge.

What trend are you looking forward to this summer?

Maxi dresses.

 

Carly Cate, student

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Striped shirt from TJ Maxx

Jeggings from Forever 21

Boots from Target

Purse from Target

What outfit do you feel most comfortable wearing out on the town?

In the summer or when it’s warm, I like fun, easy dresses.  In the fall I like to wear jeans and a flannel.  Pretty simple.

The Unique Boutique: Get to know the woman behind Charm

Charm is a darling boutique located on Second Avenue North. Its goods range from one-of-a-kind jewelry to gorgeous bags to eclectic stationery. It’s literally impossible to not walk away with something.

But as you enter the charming boutique, make sure to get to know the owner, Chatham Hellmers. If the items sold in Charm don’t keep you coming back, the company you get in Chatham definitely will.

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Exodus: How long has Charm been a part of the Second Avenue community?

Hellmers: I’ve been here for about three and a half years. It will be four this September.

E: What initially drew you to this Second Avenue area? I know it’s only been in the past few years that it has returned to the lively downtown street of the past.

H: Well, I’m originally from Long Island, lived in Manhattan and Atlanta, and then finally settled here. And in all of those cities, downtown is the place to be. That’s where the life, the stores and the people are. It was pretty clear to me that there was something going on here at Second Ave. I wanted to be a part of it. I’m fully immersed in it as well, living just a block away from the store.

E: Charm is one of the more unique stores I’ve been in. What was your vision for it initially when you were first starting out?

H: Well, I’ve been a part of a couple other stores. With this one though, I wanted to sell what I love. I’ve collected costume jewelry for as long as I can remember, and I knew that would be a focal point of this store. Then, with anything that doesn’t sell, I get to keep it. It’s totally a win-win.

E: You mentioned you’re from Long Island and lived in Manhattan for a while. Birmingham seems like a way different place from those. Give me some background about yourself and how you ended up here.

H: Well I went to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) for illustration and fashion illustration. Well, when I graduated, that was completely useless…basically like having a degree in basket weaving. So I became a visual artist and did a lot of display work in New York, and that’s what ultimately brought me to Atlanta. On a trip to the Birmingham Flea Market to buy for the antique furniture store I was working in, I fell in love with this city. I moved here and opened my shop. However, my illustration skills have showed up a little bit with this store. I designed the store logo, and the artwork on the walls. (You can also see her sketch in the picture above.)

E: Tell me a little more about the items you carry in Charm?

DSC_0347H: Well, they are kind of new meets vintage meets handmade. (Hellmers even makes some of the jewelry herself, pictured right) I want everything to be really quirky and unique, but also accessible. It also has to fit a certain price range. People won’t buy anything if it’s not reasonable, and I’m very aware of that.

B: All of your items are very unique. I honestly don’t think I could find a lot of this in other stores around Birmingham. Where do you buy it?

E: I’ve always been a compulsive shopper. I’ve been buying from the same people since I was 18 out of New York. Honestly, I would lie to them when I was younger, pretending I had my own store just so I could get stuff wholesale. Then I’d just sell or give stuff to my friends. Who would have thought looking back that I would actually own my own store? I thought I’d just grow up to be a rich housewife, designing my mansion.

 

Charm’s clientele ranges from “dudes buying their girlfriends a gift” to “over-the-mountain women,” so clearly there is something for all. Don’t miss out on the unique finds and the charming woman who owns the store. Just be prepared for outrageous conversation and amazing inventory.

 

Moundville Alabama: Exploring the mystery

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Shrouded in mystery under open blue skies, Moundville Archaeological Park is a spectacular location for a spring or summer day trip.

Moundville Park is situated on and around an ancient Native American city-state. The civilization, whose ancient name is unknown to archaeologists, was one of the great cities of the Mississippian Indians.

As its name suggests, the city of Moundville Alabama is famous for its more than 20 hill-like mounds. The mounds, ranging in height from a few to more than 60 feet, were all constructed by hand.

The two prominent mounds are located in the northeast corner of the park. Known simply as Mound A and Mound B, archaeologists believe the two mounds were the crown jewels of the civilization. The tallest mound on the site, Mound B, was likely the site of royal residence. A replica of the house where the supreme chieftain likely lived exists on top of the mound.

Mound A, though much shorter, is longer than many of the mounds. Also notable about Mound A is its unique alignment. It is the only mound that does not have an east-west or north-south alignment. The mounds’ purpose is unknown. However, some theories revolve around their use in religious ceremonies.

Archaeologists have discovered that Moundville was a cultural center for the Mississippians. As a part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps began heavily excavating the site in 1938, uncovering immense amounts of pottery and other signs of an organized and prominent city.

Today, Moundville Archaeological Park stands as a monument to the Mississippian culture. The site is preserved by the University of Alabama and is open daily to the public.

Just eight dollars for adults and six dollars for students, the all-access ticket to the park includes a 1.6-mile paved path around the perimeter of the mounds that can be either walked or driven, two different walking trails that overlook the Black Warrior River and a visit to the museum.

Throughout the Moundville Archaeological Park experience you are constantly learning about the culture of the Mississippians. The setup of the park lets the imagination wonder back to the first half of the second millennium, when Moundville was possibly the epicenter of the entire Southeastern United States.

The park holds educational events every Saturday, which are beneficial to scholars of any age.

Moundville is located 20 miles south of Tuscaloosa and 75 miles southwest of Birmingham. If driving is not a concern for you, there is no reason you should stay away from Moundville when planning your next weekend road trip.

Photo by Clayton Hurdle

Hunter Lawley Band adds new perspective to country music

Hunter Lawley has always known he wanted to be an entertainer. He majored in theatre at the University of Montevallo before deciding to dedicate his life to music.

The Hunter Lawley Band performing at the Main Street Tavern on March 28.

Over the years, Lawley has acquired guitar player Allen Stone, drummer Chris Brown and bass player Steven Riley to form the eclectic mix that is the Hunter Lawley Band.

The Hunter Lawley Band performs on March 28 at the Main Street Tavern.The Hunter Lawley Band plays mainly covers, anything from Johnny Cash to Snoop Dogg. They also write original music, which Lawley describes as alternative country.

Lawley and his crew play everything from intimate bar shows to the Alpha Psi Rodeo in Auburn, which usually attracts more than 15,000 people. They’ve played with headliners such as David Allen Coe and Eric Church. But according to Lawley, big names and fame aren’t what it’s all about.

“I always say you shouldn’t do [music] to be famous because if you’re doing it to be famous, you’ll never be famous. You do it for a career,” Lawley says. “Put the time into it and you’ll meet the right people.”

The band hopes they’ve met the right people. They recently signed with EastCoast Entertainment, an agency out of Atlanta who has represented artists such as John Mayer and Zac Brown Band (before they were famous, Lawley likes to point out.) Now, the band looks to the future and is getting ready to record a new album.

There are definitely perks to being in an all-man band. Lawley says the speed with changing tires can rival that of a NASCAR pit stop crew.

But the true benefit comes to life when watching the band play onstage. The camaraderie and collective sense of humor provide for a show that is guaranteed to entertain no matter what the musical preference.

You can see all of the Hunter Lawley Band’s action live and up close Monday, April 29 at Pub 261 in Pelham or at Innisfree Irish Pub in Birmingham Friday, May 3. For more information regarding shows or music purchases, visit the Hunter Lawley Band Website.

Photos by Kaitlin Bitz 

Colonial Brookwood Village continues development with The Fresh Market

Despite the completion of the new Target, Colonial Brookwood Village hasn’t slowed down development and construction of The Fresh Market is well under way. The Fresh Market (pictured below on Highway 280) is scheduled to open a new grocery store in Brookwood Village this fall that will anchor a new retail building next to Target, according to a Colonial Properties press release.The Fresh Market

Jim Spahn, vice president of marketing at Colonial Properties Trust, says of the 43,300-square-foot space available that the grocery store will only occupy 20,900 square feet. Colonial Properties has prospects interested in the remaining retail space, but nothing is set in stone yet.

“The building sat largely vacant until we struck an agreement with Target, so the building was still up there until, gee, 36 months ago or so,” Spahn says.

The Fresh Market (Colonial Brookwood Village)

All the new development will give shoppers more choice in the Homewood area so they don’t have to commute to other areas of town and spend time stuck in traffic.

Spahn says Colonial Properties had been working on the convenience center for sometime trying to find a better use for it when the economy declined and retail growth dried up. Colonial Properties is just now seeing interest in retail expansion again.  

“In order to grow retail at a place like Colonial Brookwood Village, you have to have a good story to sell, and Target certainly helps us do that,” Spahn says. “Target chose this location. We didn’t choose Target; they chose us. Fresh Market, they chose this location, we didn’t choose them.”

 

Photos by Jennifer Ferry

 

Parachute’s Nate McFarland talks tours, albums and…rap?

The band Parachute is slowly but surely making its way up in the music industry. Starting with competitions like Battle of the Bands and moving up to touring with artists such as Kelly Clarkson and NEEDTOBREATHE, the band has an amazing story of success, and they’re only getting bigger. Exodus got to talk with guitarist Nate McFarland and pick his brain about tours, albums, rap and a little bit in between.

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Exodus: Have you played at WorkPlay before?
Nate: We have, love WorkPlay, love the mini-arena cage-fight feel of it with the balconies.

E: How far are you on the album that “Hearts Go Crazy” [your latest single] is going to be on?
N: We have tracked 14 songs so we’re all done recording, now we’re in the process of mixing and maybe teasing a few that might become bonus tracks and not make it on the regular version.

E: What’s your favorite headlining tour you’ve done?
N: It’s oftentimes the most recent one; whatever was the most recent one that has the biggest crowds and the best venues. So I think this past fall was the best one. As far as opening tours go it’s a tie between Kelly Clarkson and NEEDTOBREATHE.

E: Did you all [the band] go to school together?
N: We’re all from Virginia and everybody except for me went to middle school and high school together, that’s when they formed the band. And then Will and I went to college together and that’s where I got plugged in with the rest of the guys. There have been other guitar players before me; I’m the only unoriginal member.

E: I saw somewhere that you used to be called Sparky’s Flaw. What’s the story behind that?
N: The band formed their sophomore year of high school for Battle of the Bands, so it was just a joke name. They have lots of different funny little alibis that they like to tell but you can’t get a straight answer out of any of them.

E: When y’all are touring it’s just every day you’re traveling, playing, traveling, playing…does that ever get tiring for you or is this just what you love doing?
N: Yes and no. It’s an amazing lifestyle, it’s awesome, but it does get old at times for sure. Living out of a suitcase or washing your hair in a hotel lobby sink at 2 a.m. or something definitely gets old, but at the same time every job has its down sides and this one has some pretty bangin’ perks.

E: So I heard there’s a possibility of a Monster Squad rap album…is that true?
N: It is hard to tell. Truth is it’s kind of like a joke side project but we all love rap, honestly. So we’re not mocking rap, we’re laughing at ourselves and our inability to be good at rap. But we do have some songs, they’re too explicit to release so we’re not really sure what to do but we enjoy getting to pretend like we’re rappers. There are actually some songs that are bangin’ so maybe if we can clean them up a little bit…we think the likelihood of a digital mixed tape being released sometime in the future is highly likely because we just like having fun too much to keep it under wraps.

E: If you wanted to say one thing to people about this new album coming out, what would be one thing you’d want them to know about it?
N: These are good, well-written songs. I think that’s their biggest strength. There’s no concept to this album, no overarching themes that we’ve intentionally put in. The guiding criteria are just great songs. They maybe simpler than some of our past songs have been, because oftentimes some of the best pop songs are just simple, unforgettable melodies.

Parachute will be playing at WorkPlay April 25th at 8 p.m. For tickets and other information visit www.workplay.com

Photo courtesy of www.weareparachute.com

Birmingham goes nuts for Peanut Depot

JMPeanut1Lex Legate was working at The Fresh Market grocery store when a local produce seller came in and told him that Peanut Depot was for sale.

“I thought, ‘No kidding. What is that?’” Legate says. “You have to come down and see it,” the produce seller told Legate. “What you see is what you get.”

Legate liked what he saw and has now owned Peanut Depot for the past seven years. The business has gone through a number of ownership changes in its 106 years of operation. It was originally owned by the Cassimus family and then changed hands several times before Legate bought it.

Peanut Depot peanuts are roasted on site in a 90-minute process involving antique roasters. Peanuts are for sale in three flavors: roasted, salted and Cajun. Roasted peanuts are natural with no salt or oil. Salted peanuts are lightly salted in their shells. Cajun peanuts are a hot and spicy variety. Boiled peanuts are also sold.

Peanut Depot in Birmingham, ALAdditionally, Peanut Depot distributes peanuts to a variety of businesses including grocery stores, the Birmingham Barons and several colleges.

For those wanting to explore Peanut Depot, Legate provides tours of the store. “You call here and go, ‘Can we come down?’” Legate says. “Yeah, you can buy peanuts. I can tell you about it. Ask for the tour.”

A visit will not only give you a look into a local business, but also a look into history.

“It’s part retail. It’s part historical,” Legate says. “It’s a lot of fun.”

And if you’re looking to buy good peanuts, Peanut Depot is the place to go.

Legate says, “They’re just simply the freshest.”

 

To find out more about Peanut Depot’s roasting process, watch this video of owner Lex Legate explaining it.

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Peanut Depot
2016 Morris Ave.
Birmingham, AL 35203
(205) 251-3314
http://www.peanutdepot.com

Photos by Julie Matthews