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September 23rd, 2023

hamilton national tourThe end of the Battle of Yorktown is celebrated in this scene from “Hamilton.” The show’s national tour will be stopping at Century II in Wichita from June 6 through 18. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Local theatre fans will definitely want to be in the room where it happens with an upcoming national tour production making its way to Wichita. 

The Tony Award-winning musical 'Hamilton' will be making its way to Century II in Wichita and will be there June 6 through 18. The show follows U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton from when he immigrated to the U.S. until his duel with Aaron Burr. Other founding fathers and historical figures are also featured in the show including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and King George III. Cast member Jen Sese said it is exciting for the show to be stopping in Wichita. 

“I'm really excited the show is going to be in Wichita because when I was in college, I actually worked for Music Theatre of Wichita during the 2004 or 2005 season, so I'm excited to be back there among my old stomping grounds, so to speak,” Sese said. “I know there's huge support for the theatre community there, so I think we'll have a really good run the two weeks we'll be there. I've been with the Philip Company of 'Hamilton' since it began, and we'd started rehearsals in 2017 and opened in 2018. I began in the ensemble and as a standby for all three Schuyler sisters characters. I went to be part of the Los Angeles company for a little while again as a standby for the three Schuyler sisters and since joining the Philip Company, I've been in the dual roles of Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds. I'm so lucky to have had a long journey with the show, I love it so much and I'm blessed to call 'Hamilton' my home for the past five years. It was also kind of fun while recovering from the pandemic because L.A. was laid off for a little while, so I went to other touring companies and filled in some of the holes in those shows and helped ensure there were enough people to do the show.”

my life is a symphony spotlight pageELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite things is discovering new music while I’m working on my assignments and recently, one of those discoveries happened while I was thinking of what I wanted to write about for this week’s page. 

Especially recently, I’ve been more into bossa nova jazz for background noise while I’m working and earlier this week, while I was listening to that, I inadvertently clicked on a video for a new song of Kate Ceberano, a jazz singer who’s been in the music business in Australia for several years. The song was from her new album “My Life Is A Symphony” in conjunction with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and after the song I accidentally clicked on, I knew I immediately had to listen to the rest of the album, which I later found out was actually released last week. The entire album is almost akin to a greatest hits album and has 10 songs ranging from her different albums throughout Ceberano’s career. 

The album begins with her song “Brave,” and I loved everything about this song – the opening instrumentals from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra are fierce yet soothing at the same time and complements Ceberano’s vocals (which are powerful and absolutely ooze her passion) so, so well. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra provided the perfect accompaniment and admittedly made my band geek heart pretty happy. The album then continues with “Earth & Sky,” which is also full of feeling – the song is a less melodramatic breakup song and focuses on how couples just drift apart sometimes through no fault of anyone involved. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra again provides the perfect accompaniment, and the song is sad yet rather soaring at the same time, which is great. 

guardians 3 spotlight pageThe Guardians of the Galaxy prepare to help save a friend in this scene from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Back in 2014, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) were introduced to a ragtag group of misfits dubbed as the Guardians of the Galaxy and since then, the group has enjoyed a big role throughout the MCU. The group’s most recent (and final) outing came with last week’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which follows the Guardians as they embark on possibly their most important mission: to protect Rocket Raccoon (voice of Bradley Cooper) from the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji).

To start off, “Vol. 3” is definitely the Guardians’ most emotional outing yet in the MCU (which I know might raise some eyebrows given the events of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame”), but for me, this movie was truly a rollercoaster and made me feel just about every emotion under the sun throughout the entire 150-minute runtime. 

The movie’s cast also does a great job throughout. Rocket Raccoon's backstory (which was only VERY briefly alluded to in Vol. 1) is finally revealed, and it was even more heartbreaking than I could ever have imagined. “Vol. 3” is definitely Rocket’s story and I would consider it Bradley Cooper’s best performance in the role because it gives a great exploration into his arc. I’ve enjoyed Cooper as Rocket in the “Guardians” films and other MCU appearances, but this is definitely the outing that lets him shine. If anyone had told me almost 10 years ago that I would be this invested in the backstory of a CGI/comic book raccoon, I wouldn’t have believed it. Chukwudi Iwuji is also absolutely outstanding in the villainous role of the High Evolutionary and makes him a complete megalomaniac (perhaps he sought inspiration from other demagogues throughout history?) and gives him absolutely NO redeeming qualities, which is actually kind of refreshing since a lot of modern villains have been given some form of a redemption arc. During the movie’s later scenes that dive deeper into just how awful he is, my primary thought was “I HOPE ONLY BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO YOU FROM HERE ON OUT,” a wish which I was mostly granted.