Komastu Ramen is as good as it sounds

komastu_ramen_20161 When college students think of ramen, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the 99 cent packets that can be bought at any supermarket in America. Komastu Ramen shows St. Joseph what ramen is truly supposed to be. Komastu Ramen is downtown at 724 Felix Street. This restaurant has a beautiful atmosphere, between the hanging lights and upbeat music played in the background. There are no tables, but booths that are surrounded by a wooden canopy that resembles a canoe tipped on its side. Another unique facet of Komastu is the way you order. I was greeted by a waitress and then told how to use their iPad to order off the menu. Meals, drinks and desserts were all ordered by iPad. They have a wide variety of ramen, all with different types of broths, noodles, meats and vegetables. They have Tonkostu style ramen (pork broth), Shoyu ramen (soy broth) and Miso style Ramen which is made with miso broth. There wasn’t just ramen though; they also had appetizers that were gluten-free, such as the cucumber salad and seaweed salad. Some specialty items include oysters, as well as olive and cheese carts. I went with my friend and we both ordered the miso style ramen. She ordered the vegan ramen which came with tofu, cabbage and enoki mushrooms. I ordered the oishi ramen. This ramen had pork belly, roasted chicken, and a hardboiled egg as well as a plentiful amount of veggies. The portion sizes were very hefty. The chopsticks available were unlike traditional chopsticks. They were thicker and white, with carvings to help grasp the thick noodles easier and fit more comfortably in your hand. The actual ramen was amazing. The broth brought the perfect amount of savory to the dish; between the pork belly and green onions, the ramen flavor was divine. The vegan ramen was just as excellent. The enoki mushrooms gave it a nice flavor, and the consistency of the tofu was high quality. Everything was very high quality considering the affordable price. We also splurged on Japanese soda since we were there. The type of soda you could buy from a comic convention or at select grocery stores around St. Joseph. The brand of soda, however, I had not found in town before. The bottles had marbles inside that fit in the lid. You had to press down firmly on the marble and pop it into the glass in order to drink from it. It’s a really fun experience to drink it. Overall my experience at the restaurant was very good. The only negative aspect of the restaurant I’d say were the flies. As we sat there were about two or three flies buzzing around our table, they would leave and come back throughout our meal. Despite this, the quality of the meal was very good and the atmosphere was one I’d love to take a group of friends to. I would recommend Komastu to my friends and I will definitely be going back.

Review: Godspell

The cast of Missouri Western’s “Godspell” certainly “prepared ye a way for the Lord” during their rendition of the popular musical this past weekend. Friday night brought in a full house, and the cast failed to disappoint in this modern interpretation of a 2,000-year-old story. Originally released off Broadway in 1971, the musical is centered on the retelling of the Book of Matthew from the Bible. The cast performs Jesus’ teachings through modern interpretation and songs, which help contextualize the message. A unique structure of the musical is that there are only two assigned roles: Jesus and John the Baptist/Judas Iscariot.  The remaining members play themselves as they perform each story and song. This gives each member opportunity to develop their character, but also brings with it challenges to the performer. It requires the members to be in tune with the ensemble as a whole, and to intimately react as everyone’s roles transform throughout the show. I thought the "Godspell" cast did wonderful as an ensemble. They had a connection that comes from being aware of each other and their personalities. If this had been lacking, the musical would have been less engaging, and Jesus’ teachings of humility, forgiveness, brotherly love and trusting in God’s provisions would have lost their power. While the ensemble was crucial to a successful group dynamic, obviously without the two assigned roles of Jesus, played by Thomas Delgado, and John the Baptist, also doubling as Judas Iscariot, played by Antonio Daniels-Braziel, there would have been no plot. Delgado was the glue that held the show together. His character of Jesus led each parable, taught each message, and was the premise the whole show was centered around. Daniels-Braziel’s characters set the plot in motion. He started the musical by baptizing the ensemble and Jesus as John the Baptist, then as Judas Iscariot he ended the musical through his betrayal of Jesus to the Jewish leaders. Upon Judas’ betrayal, the musical took a dark and emotional shift as events unfolded. The whole musical led to the point of Jesus’ crucifixion, and director Tee Quillen did not shy away from portraying the gravity of the message. His interpretation of Jesus’ death truly captured the loss and despair Jesus and his disciples must have felt. Judging by the sound of sniffling from the audience, I wasn’t the only one who was moved by this scene. My one suggestion for the production is to create a better balance of sound. Every song had a soloist that was competing against nine other cast members and the band to be heard. This resulted in the soloist screeching the words instead of singing. Since every performer had microphones, the sound booth could have done a better job artificially creating a balance among the different voices. Of course, the performers are responsible to monitor the balance as well. Overall, I thought this was a fun and upbeat interpretation of Matthew, from the humorous storytelling to the communion cups served during intermission. It’s not easy to contemporize something that is over 2,000 years old without compromising the message, but I feel the cast of “Godspell” did a great job.

Review: The Marriage of Figaro

If you like 80s music, big hair and big trouble, then “The Marriage of Figaro” is one play that you won't want to miss this season. This show tells the story of two lovers, Figaro and Susan, who are due to be married within the day and how everyone around them seems to be plotting to make sure the marriage doesn't happen. With a creepy Count who is the Lord of the Manor trying to sink his claws into Susan, a relentlessly love sick Page, a money and love hungry woman, and a poor man just trying to get married, there is enough action to keep anyone’s head spinning. The trouble starts for the young couple right away because they are going to get married. According to medieval practices, the Lord of the Manor gets to sleep with any female on his property the night of her marriage, and Figaro and Susan are determined not to let that happen. Being loyal to the Countess, Susan tells her everything and together they come up with a plot to reveal the Count's deplorable behavior. Meanwhile, Doctor Bartholo and Marcelina are plotting to take advantage of Figaro. He owes Marcelina money and she wants him to either pay her or marry her to settle his debt. She also has his promise in writing which puts Figaro into a sticky spot. The Count and the President will decide his fate so Figaro has to stay on the Count's good side even though the Count is trying to sleep with his bride to be. Plots and schemes are plenty, and Figaro has his work cut out for him keeping up with all of it while just trying to marry the love of his life. Everyone involved did a wonderful job, especially Thomas Delgado and Abby Sexton, who played Figaro and Susan. They had great chemistry and made their characters very lovable. Antonio Daniel-Braziel also gave an exceptional performance as Hannibal the Page. His humor and over-the-top attitude was hilarious and he kept the audience on its toes. This play was one of the most entertaining that I have seen put on by Missouri Western. The 80s theme made for very interesting and hilarious visuals. The only thing that I would have changed was the way in which the actors spoke. While the actors spoke beautifully, flawlessly and true to the original play, I found it a little hard to keep up with what was happening in the play because they were speaking in a Victorian/Shakespearean language. Regardless of the language and my inability to understand it, the actors were still able to portray what was happening with their body language and over-the-top gestures, so anyone who was lost in the words like I was was still able to understand what was happening.

The Marriage of Figaro

The Department of Theatre, Cinema and Dance are gearing up for opening weekend of The Marriage of Figaro, which is set to hit the stage this weekend in Potter Hall; running Feb. 19-21 and 25-27. Thomas Delgado, playing the lead role of Figaro, gives a quick review of the storyline of the play. “The Marriage of Figaro is about the events that happened before the wedding of Figaro and Susan, the two love interests in the show,” Delgado said. “There’s a whole bunch of chaos that ensues.” Playing the role of the Countess, Skyla Booth, explains The Marriage of Figaro is the second instillation of a trilogy of plays, set three years after the first play, the Barber of Seville. Booth says the play gives insight to the characters and main plot of the story in order for the audience to understand what is happening without having to see the first play. “There’s a lot of exposition in the beginning so that will hopefully help the audience get caught up and explain, oh this is what happened, and oh this is who these people are,” Booth said. Another interesting aspect of the play is the use of restoration in the language, setting and costumes. “I’m really excited for the costumes,” Booth said. “We’ve taken this French restoration piece and set it in 1980s Miami. So we’ve got big hair, big costumes, shoulder pads, puffy sleeves and lots of fun stuff like that.” Although the play uses an older form of language, it was important for them to also modernize many aspects of the show, Delgado explained. “We’ve kind of modernized it in casing of like the sets, and the costumes and how it’s presented so that current audiences will be able to connect with it still while understanding the text,” Delgado said. The play is said to combine comedy with important topics and issues from the past. “It’s fantastic because it’s presented in a way that people will watch it and be amused, and they will have fun while still understanding kind of the undertones of the kind of serious topics of it,” Delgado said. The production is different then many of the plays the fine arts department has showcased, but Delgado and most of the cast welcomed the challenge of it. “It was a nice challenge for all of us,” Delgado said. The show is set to open Friday , Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. in Potter Hall. For information on tickets, visit the department website at www.missouriwestern.edu/theatrecinema.

Movie Review: Deadpool kills my interest in a sequel

Let’s clarify something. Deadpool is not a superhero movie. Nor does it claim to be one. Numerous times throughout the film, Deadpool rejects the title of “superhero” and “hero.” Deadpool calls his movie a “love story” and later changes it to a “horror film.” Deadpool is definitely not a love story, despite some of its marketing, and while there is certainly enough blood, gore and splattered brain matter to be a horror film, it’s not that either. Deadpool is an anomaly. It’s a raunchy, R-rated anti-hero movie. It’s about an invincible mercenary who is out to kill the guy who made him invincible. Along the way, he breaks the fourth-wall, makes super recent pop culture references and jokes his way through life. It’s a simple, yet oddly clever, premise. But where the writers of the movie succeeded in making Deadpool a comedic action film, they failed in many other aspects. There is no character development. The movie lacked the moral authority of a “traditional” superhero movie. It lacked the plot of one too. Its plot was revenge and had no real subplots aside from some needed background information. There were very few surprises, and the ending was exactly what you expected it would be. Deadpool is simply an action film about a smart-ass in a spandex suit. Nothing more. Nothing less. I understand that I may have expected too much out of the film. Maybe Deadpool is just that kind of funny and simplistic character that doesn’t lend himself to plots or character development. As unfortunate as that is, it’s sure to still do well in the box office. So, if you’re looking for a simple action film, Deadpool may be just right for you. If you’re looking for a richer, more fulfilling superhero film, it’s probably best to skip Deadpool and wait for Batman v. Superman or X-Men: Apocalypse in the next few months.