Monthly Archives: October 2012

Backstage for dedicated Elon senior, Mason

Photos taken by Glora So

Mason performs “Crazy for You” at Elon University. Photos taken by Glora So

By Stephanie Butzer

For a while in middle school, she wanted to be a marine biologist and ride killer whales, or an interior designer like those in the Sims computer game. But those desires didn’t last long. Virginia Claire Mason always knew she was going to be in musical theater.

Mason, a senior BFA music theater major, performed in her first play in the first grade. It was a musical called “Going Buggy.” She was assigned to play Little Miss Muffet, and her job was to chase a classmate dressed as a spider with a tennis racquet.

“I was like, ‘This is fun,’” Mason said. “‘I like chasing boys around with a tennis racquet.’”

Mason continued to participate in theater throughout middle and high school. She did shows with her community children’s theater, the Star Bright Players in Franklin, Tenn.

Mason saw her first Broadway show, “Les Miserables,” when she was in fourth grade. At intermission, she eagerly turned to her mom and asked if the actors and actresses performed for a living. When her mom said yes, Mason knew she wanted to pursue the stage.

She started looking at potential colleges as a freshman in high school. Mason’s audition at Elon University was the first of 12 as she searched for a school that fit her interests. She didn’t know very much about Elon, except that it had a music theater program, so she went into the audition without anxiety.

“I think I went in with the attitude, ‘This is just for fun. It’s just practice,’” Mason said. “I think it made it so I was really laid-back and really was just having fun. It made for all the elements of a good audition — just enjoying it.”

Photos taken by Glora So

Mason performs “Crazy for You.”

The same weekend she auditioned, Mason sat in the audience at Elon’s fall musical, “Sweeney Todd.”

“I remember looking at this girl on stage,” Mason said. “She was playing Mrs. Lovett. I just thought she was the most phenomenal thing I had ever seen. Her training really showed.”

The more Mason watched the girl perform, the more interested she became in Elon’s music theater program. She couldn’t believe she was not in New York City. The show seemed to be Broadway quality.

After Mason’s acceptance into the music theater program, she befriended the girl, Emily Rice, whom she had seen on stage a year earlier. They had one year of overlap at Elon, and during their time together, the two became best friends. Now, Rice is one of Mason’s bridesmaids for her wedding in June 2013.

Paving a path at Elon

Mason has been active with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and her Bible study group, called Crazy Love, since she was a first-year. She has been with the same group throughout college.

“They’re the best girls,” Mason said. “When I joined it freshman year, it was led by two second-year girls, Gretchen Honnold and Becca Moffett. I remember that year, just looking up to those girls and how Becca was so good at really leading the group and guiding the group in conversation.”

Untitled-1Ellie Erickson, one of Mason’s friends from the Bible study group, has known Mason for 20 years. Their families went on joint vacations, and they both applied to Elon. After deciding to room with different students in order to meet new people, the system randomly paired them up as suitemates in Staley. Their friendship has grown during the course of college and they now live together in an off-campus house.

“Since coming to Elon, Ginna Claire and I have both grown in our faith in God,” Erickson said. “Through InterVarsity and our small group, we have struggled and grown in our faith. Her unwavering faith is an inspiration to me and pushes me to continue striving to know God better.”

Mason auditioned at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in the spring of her first two years at Elon. The SETC offers a way for actors and actresses to work professionally during the summer as they study music theater during the school year, and Elon encourages students to pass the qualifying rounds and then go to the conferences.

After an audition, Mason received a callback and a subsequent job in Findlay, Ohio playing the title character in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” and as Chiffon in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Behind the stage curtains 

That summer in Ohio consisted of working, bike riding, swimming, eating ice cream and getting to know the Moffett family, which included Becca’s brothers, Mark and Eric. But one member of the family became something particularly special for Mason.

“The Fourth of July rolled around and Becca and Mark were both out of town and Eric was like, ‘Do you want to go watch fireworks?’ So we did,” Mason said. “And at the end of the summer, he asked me to be his girlfriend.”

Photos taken by Glora So

Mason’s fiancee proposed to her last summer. Photos taken by Glora So

Their relationship was usually long-distance. When he was in Colorado, she was in North Carolina. When he was in Ohio, she was studying theater, art and voice in London. While the distance was long, it did not weaken their feelings, and this past summer, the couple got engaged.

“We’re getting married in 247 days,” Mason said. “June 28th.”

Mason’s fiance comes to every show in which she performs, including “Crazy For You,” which had its opening night Oct. 25.

The show’s musical director and conductor, Richard Church, helped Mason as she learned vocals for the show.

“We worked on how to approach these songs not only as a professional singer, but as a professional actor,” Church said. “We adjusted how to breathe while singing and being held on the shoulders of two chorus men, how to carry her breath through on long phrases while tapping to a rigorous dance.”

One of Mason’s biggest songs in the play, “I Got Rhythm,” includes a few high notes she was unsure she could hit. Church saw this uncertainty as a challenge. They worked on it tirelessly, and now Church said Mason is belting perfectly during every performance.

“Her face when she figured out in my studio that she could do this was reward enough for me,” Church said. “Such a joy.”

The show has presented many other challenges to Mason, but the biggest obstacle she had to overcome was her knee, which she broke when she was 16 and again at age 18.

“I’ve had three knee surgeries,” Mason said. “But I can still dance. It’s a lot to work through. I’m in physical therapy. I have to ice it every day. It’s hard, it’s really hard.”

But the struggles to be the best she can be for “Crazy for You” are not all Mason is working through.

“We’re already into rehearsals for ‘Into the Woods,’ which is our senior musical,” Mason said. “We’re already in full rehearsals for that so it’s crazy.”

Mason prepares for a rehearsal.

Mason will play the role of Little Red Riding Hood for the complex show. Despite a busy schedule, Mason said she has a firm grip on everything happening around her.

“The craziest part about the semester is being the audition coordinator, applying for graduate school, doing ‘Crazy for You,’ doing ‘Into the Woods’ and planning a wedding,” Mason said. “It’s a lot, but it’s all fun stuff. It’s all good stuff.”

After graduation, Mason hopes to go to graduate school in New York, where she will live with her fiance.

Mason has picked out some small details for the June wedding: the photographer, the ivory bridesmaid dresses, colorful flowers, a church in Nashville and a reception downtown in Houston Station, Tenn. Everything is falling into place, and Mason said she is excited for what’s to come.

She even thinks she’s found the perfect dress.


Q&A with We the Kings at Elon Homecoming

By Stephanie Butzer

We the Kings were the main artists featured in Elon’s Homecoming Concert. The band took off after “Check Yes Juliet” came out in 2008 and has been rolling fast ever since. Travis Clark, the lead singer of We the Kings, talked to The Pendulum before his performance.

Q: What do you think of Elon?

A: When we do these college things, you never really know what to expect or what is actually going to be there. But when you show up to a place like Elon, where it’s a beautiful campus and there’s people outside just living and enjoying their time at school, I think it’s just amazing. North Carolina in general has such a great outdoor experience, so we love when shows happen outdoors and it’s beautiful weather and the fall is coming.

Q. Have you been to a lot of other college campuses and what are those like?

A: We tour all the time. I’m singing to people who are our own age so we’re just friends. It’s one big family. It’s really nice to just have no filter, not that we get up there and just use vulgarities or say a bunch of really immature things. It’s that I don’t have to think about having to filter, and that’s a really cool thing for a singer and for someone who wants to talk in between songs. It’s a really cool quality to have from college shows.

Photo credit Merissa Blitz

The lead singer of We the Kings, Travis Clark. Photo credit Merissa Blitz

Q: Is there a specific venue or campus that you guys have gone to that you particularly enjoyed?

A: We went to an all-girls school in New York. We showed up at 11 p.m. and we thought it was going to be really strict. I walked off the bus and there were people everywhere, wasted. All around campus. It was such a mind twister. Like, what is this place? It was an incredible show but it was something very unexpected. It was like everyone there was a reverend’s daughter who was held down their entire lives and this was their one moment to go crazy. That was a memorable show.

Q: You guys came out with a new album last summer, “Sunshine State of Mind.” Where did the inspiration for that come from?

A: As the band grows and progresses through life and through everything, we want to put out music that is representative of that. I think that our fans are growing up, too. With our next record, we’re going to really have no boundaries as far as what genre the record is in. We have songs that sound like they could be off Coldplay’s next record. We have songs that sound like they could be off The Killers’ next record, or Kings of Leon. It’s kind of all over the place and I love it.

Q: So the one coming out will touch on a lot of different genres?

A: We’re not having a filter. Sometimes we’d be so worried about what the fans would think about this. But the fans have stuck by us through the good and the bad and I think they will really appreciate us for once just doing what we really want to do. And it sounds incredible so far. It’s so nice to go into the studio and have a completely relaxed and unbiased point of view when we’re writing songs. If something doesn’t sound We the Kings-ish, we don’t care. We’re going to do it because it sounds awesome. That’s ultimately what growing up is all about. I think we’re applying that to the music.

Q: How far along are you guys on that album?

A: We have a ton of demos but we have five songs that I’ve showed the guys that we’re all super excited about. It’s always funny. I remember when we wrote “Check Yes Juliet,” it was the first time I was like, “Oh my gosh, something about this song is very special.” And I felt it again on each record on a specific song. On the second Quoterecord that we did, it was “We’ll Be a Dream,” which we had Demi Lovato sing. On the third record it was a song called “Sing Like Me.” On this record, there’s a song called “Art of War” that is so beautiful. I’m so happy that my brain pulled it together for a week and got this out because it’s really amazing. It is a very biased opinion, but I love this song and I think our fans and people who have never heard of We the Kings are really going to gravitate toward this new record, especially this specific track.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists that look up to you?

A: It’s hard. It really is. Nobody can tell you exactly what to do. Everybody is trying something different and then you realize you’re trying too hard. The advice, all in all, is find out what your idea of success is and chase that. I’ve heard so many times people asking, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and people say, “I want to be famous.” What? That’s not an occupation. You can’t just be famous. Do something you love and all that stuff will come if it works out.

Zeta Tau Alpha helps Elon Think Pink

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

ZTA set up their banner on the front of Elon’s Alamance building. Photos by Stephanie Butzer

By Stephanie Butzer

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

ZTA sisters baked all sorts of treats to give to people who came to Think Pink.

There is pink everywhere from the sprinkles on cupcakes to lemonade, bright flowers to bobbing balloons and eye shadow to hair extensions.

Lastly, all the members of Zeta Tau Alpha at Elon are dressed in their National Breast Cancer Awareness Month T-shirts, deigned specifically for the Think Pink event.

ZTA’s philanthropy is Breast Cancer Education and Awareness and the sisters of the fraternity planned several events to display in front of Alamance. ZTA decided to hold their event in front of Alamance in hopes students would pass by in between classes.

“It’s a very central location so we can get so many people passing by,” said junior Emily Albertelli. We thought it’d be a great opportunity to have people easily come walk over, it’s not a big hassle and it’s just a fun night.”

Dozens of baked goods were presented on tables and were free for students, faculty members and community members to eat. Upbeat music thumped loudly as participants learned more about ZTA’s work.

“It’s just a really good way to raise awareness and a good way to bring a lot of other people on campus into our philanthropy and involve everyone because we think that it’s really important to involve all of Elon’s community,” Albertelli said.

One of the highlights of the evening was the Yoplait yogurt-eating contest. This company supports Susan G. Komen for the Cure, so all lids were collected and will be donated for breast cancer awareness research. The event is fun raises a lot of money.

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

An Elon student looks over the baked goods at Think Pink.

“Boys are the funniest because they get really into it,” Lexi Circle, senior, said. “Girls are all trying to eat really fast and still be pretty. The guys just stand up and gulp it down.”

The girls of ZTA put up flyers around campus and posted Facebook statuses about Think Pink, encouraging others to come out to support the cause.

“I feel like everyone knows someone who struggled with it and survived or, unfortunately, didn’t, and so I think its really important to a lot of different people,” Blaire Zackary, senior, said.  “At Elon, there’s a lot of focus on other things but trying to be focused on things that we can actually make a difference on is important.”

Think Pink is ZTA’s largest on-campus event. They have worked with restaurants, such as Pandora’s Pies, Fat Frogg and YoZone, for profit-shares. Pandora’s Pies made their garlic knots in the shape of a ribbon to show their support during the time they worked with ZTA.

The girls had other events, such as a Pink Out soccer game where they dress in pink and the game is played with a pink soccer ball. The players’ shoelaces will also be pink.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month ends when October closes, but ZTA will continue to spread awareness and raise funds to beat breast cancer.

Q&A with Homecoming’s artist, Chris Webby

Photo credit Merissa Blitz

Chris Webby performs for Elon’s Homecoming concert. Photo credit Merissa Blitz

By Stephanie Butzer

Chris Webby, a rapper from Connecticut, was one of the two artists invited to play at Elon’s Homecoming concert. After his performance, he discussed the crowd, his music and what lies ahead of him.

Q. How did the performance go?

A. I had fun. I always have fun. I was fighting through a cold right now so it took me a second to get into it. But then I got adrenaline.

Q. Elon has had a few other rappers visit, like Sam Adams and Mac Miller. How do you think you’re different from them?

A. I definitely focus on my lyrics more than anything else. That’s always been my thing. Not that they don’t focus on lyrics but I’m a different artist. I come from a different place. I got a different story to tell.

Q. What are your lyrics generally about?

A. Just what I know about. Everything from girls and drugs to the struggles of my own life, the things that happen, the ups and downs and the life I lead. I think it’s important to have a mixed bag when it comes to the music you make. You can’t always be happy-go-lucky.

Q. Do you have a favorite venue or college campus?

A. My favorite venue is Toad’s Place in Connecticut. It’s my hometown crowd and it’s always wild. The energy level is crazy and it’s always such a great response. I’ve Untitled-1played there probably eight times. It was where my first show was at a showcase when maybe 30 people came out. Now, I’ve sold it out and it’s 1,300 capacity. We always have a good relationship with people who run the show. I always have a lot of family that comes out that night. All my friends come. It’s a whole ordeal.

Q. Is there a performance that sticks out particularly in your head?

A. The first show I did with my dad playing guitar was pretty crazy. We’ve done it a lot since then, but he comes out and plays guitar and it’s pretty wild. He’s from blues and rock. That’s what he does for a living. It’s really cool to do two generations of that on the same stage.

Q. Are you working on anything special right now?

A. I just put out a mixtape that’s going super well. It had over 100,000 downloads in a week. Just keep it rolling from here. I just take it day by day and see where it goes from here. Life is good.

Elon’s NPHC Step Show makes more than a little noise

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

Performers at Elon’s NPHC Step Show. Photos by Stephanie Butzer

By Stephanie Butzer

McKinnon exploded with stomps, claps and yells last night. Elon’s National Pan-Hellenic Council, the historically African American council of fraternities and sororities, held its traditional step show and opened its doors to the community and student body.

“The step show is basically a tradition for NPHC organizations,” April Sutton, NPHC’s Vice President, said. “It’s been traditionally done for thirty, forty years.”

There are nine total fraternities and sororities under the NPHC. Elon has six of them. The goal for the step show was to have all six, plus some chapters that had previously existed at Elon, perform at the event.

“Our plan is to have as many organizations come and step because the theme of our step shows is ‘Back to Basics,’ which is basically us celebrating our past and focusing on the future,” Sutton said.

Four fraternities and sororities performed, including one visiting group from Virginia Tech. Each group focused on a different theme. The fifteen-minute performances encompassed who the specific Greek organization was and what principles and programs they supported, including scholarship, service and sisterly or brotherly love.

Sutton explained the importance of having an event like this on Elon’s campus.

“It is a big deal because Elon is a predominately white campus and so its basic diversity. I know the university is very big on having diversity on this campus and NPHC is one way of doing that.”

This event has become a tradition of many NPHC’s across the nation, but it has expanded to become enjoyment for countless spectators as well.

To see a gallery of photographs, click here. 

The ups and downs of social media according to Olivia Hubert-Allen, Elon alum

By Stephanie Butzer

Olivia Hubert-Allen, a 2009 Elon graduate, knows social media. As a digital journalist at The Baltimore Sun, she uses social media as more than a resource that lets her talk to friends. She uses it in her reporting.

Social media has become a great tool. It has expanded to not only help people connect with other people, but how to enhance and better reporting. However, it does not report traditional reporting.

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

Olivia Hubert-Allen speaks to Janna Anderson’s Reporting class at Elon University. Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

“You still have to make the phone calls, get on the street, talk to people, build your network, build sources up,” Hubert-Allen said.

Social media has become a great way to monitor the community. It can also be helpful when somebody is looking for a person who has not left a public paper trail. Social media helps reveal connections and backgrounds.

“You really are given this window into people lives that we’ve never had before. As far as reporting, we have more access to a lot people’s lives than we’ve ever had before, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.”

Hubert-Allen described a scenario when social media helped a reporter at The Baltimore Sun where a man had posted a video on Twitter of him and his friends beating up a drunken man on St. Patrick’s Day. The reporter wanted to find the people in the video and did research.

The reporter found a Twitter handle that bragged he had assaulted the man. Soon after, the Twitter handle was removed, most likely because the man didn’t want to leave a trail. However, somebody had taken a screen shot.

The reporter got the screen capture and searched for people who had talked back and forth with the owner of the deleted Twitter handle. Eventually, this led the reporter to find the man on Facebook and police gathered enough evidence to question him about the incident.

“Now can these things be manipulated?” Hubert-Allen said. “Yes. You always have to be skeptical when looking at anything.”

However, social media has many perks. Social media relationships can help lead to jobs, internships or people who may be of help to another person.

“You need to build these relationships early, talking back and forth with people, build trust, build sources,” Hubert-Allen said.

People should not network just for the thrill of networking, though, Hubert-Allen said. She urged the students to build actual relationships. These people can give a student legs when they graduate and are searching for the next milestone in their life.

Jessica Vitak shares insider’s view on social media

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

Vitak talks to a communications class at Elon University. Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

By Stephanie Butzer

It’s not easy to shoot at a moving target. Ask Elon alum, Jessica Vitak, class of 2002. She studies social media as an assistant professor in the iSchool at the University of Maryland. Vitak came into one of Elon’s communications class to discuss social media, its impact and where it is headed in the near and far future.

As a whole, Vitak explained, the general population thinks social media is something that popped up in the past decade or so. However, she emphasizes this is not a brand new phenomenon.

For example, the telegraph, which was invented in the late 1700s, is a lesser-known example of social media. So is the everyday white message board.

Thanks to new programs and networks, social media has really taken off in the past few years.

“Social media is facilitated through technology and it evolves with technology,” Vitak said. “This is where we get into what we’ve been seeing in the last ten to fifteen years – when we see an explosion of social media.”

User-generated content came into play when the Web evolved from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. Vitak said this updated way to using the Internet can be very helpful. For example, she is able to look at reviews and user comments for a product on she may be interested in purchasing.

However, user-generated content also has a negative side. An anonymous user on Reddit posted inappropriate photography for others to view on the site. Gawker, a well-known and extremely successful blog run by Nick Denton, revealed the troll.

“This is an example of a site which is based completely on user-generated content,” Vitak said. “He is hiding behind this mark of anonymity. And guess what? The guy on Gawker took off that mask.”

Pinterest, Vitak said, is a good example of where social network sites are headed. When a user clicks on a picture, the link will take them straight to the direct Web page.

“This is a marketer’s dream, which is why I think this is definitely where we’re heading,” Vitak said.

Pinterest had a huge jump of interest and use in 2012. Users increased from 8 million to 18 million in the past ten months, Vitak said.

For Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or any other social media network, users must be interaction-driven.

“In order to get benefits that come with these sites and being a member, you have to be an active participant,” Vitak said.

Humans naturally like to connect with each other, so most are actively participating online. People are curious about other people, so social investigation, also known as passively “stalking,” is popular on these sites.

One thing many users notice when they see each other’s pages is how many friends their peers have on Facebook. If somebody has many friends, they are less socially attractive, Vitak said. There is an optimal point, where a user thinks another user has a good number of friends, and will accept their request to connect.

In a study at Michigan State University, most people thought collecting friends was less important than making actual connections. Twenty-five percent of the undergraduates’ network connections were actually their friends. This percentage was 37 for MSU staff.

The future of social media depends on how companies handle users’ concerns and comments. Today, many people are concerned about their accounts, their personal information and hackers. However, social relationships will always matter. Trust could alter this balance, but only time will tell.