Kansas City Stage Review: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – the Musical

  • “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
  • The Kauffman Center – Kansas City, Missouri
  • January 21, 2020 

Oh, how sweet it is! Filled with colorful costumes, magical set designs, and wonderful songs that will put a smile on your face, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” now performing at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center in Kansas City, Missouri, is a terrific musical the whole family can enjoy. Based upon the 1964 children’s novel of the same name by British novelist Roald Dahl (1916-90), “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was first adapted for the silver screen in 1971 and then again in 2005 before premiering as a musical in 2013 in London.

 The musical version takes us to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory where, after being shut up for 40 years, the legendary chocolatier (Cody Garcia) decides to venture out into the real world to find an heir. Disguised as a chocolate shop owner, Willy ends up befriending, in a small way, a local boy named Charlie Bucket (Ryan Umbarila). Charlie lives an impoverished life just down the block with two sets of grandparents, who never leave their bed, and his widowed, overworked mother. 

Charlie is a dreamer to the tenth degree and so, it’s only natural that he becomes enamored with the idea of getting a Wonka chocolate bar in order to get a golden ticket. The five lucky recipients of which will get to go on a tour of Willy’s factory with the chance to win a lifetime supply of chocolate. Of course, the whimsical and quirky Willy has other plans. Charlie ultimately proves himself to be a good-hearted lad, especially when compared to the other four children who reveal themselves to be brats, each meeting their own unique, laughable fate during the tour. 

The first half of the show contained a couple of heartfelt moments between Charlie and his Grandpa Joe (Steve McCoy) that pulled at the heartstrings. Umbarila had an overall nice stage presence but was overshadowed a bit by McCoy’s charismatic delivery of his comedic lines. Despite Charlie’s underdog nature, the most fascinating character remained Wonka himself. However, his portrayal during the first act was a little flat, which was accompanied by a sluggish pace even with a few entertaining dance sequences. 

The true highlight of the night’s show was the second act. It was fun, lively, colorful and thoroughly entertaining. Garcia delivered a superb performance down the stretch run with a portrayal that was reminiscent of a blend between Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp. Supported by a solid orchestral performance, the musical’s second act was punctuated by well-choreographed Oompa Loompas who generated the biggest laughs of the night. 

In the end, don’t wait for a golden ticket in a candy bar to see “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” because it will be gone before you know it. 

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” runs in Kansas City at the beautiful Kauffman Center through January 26th. For tickets in KC or for the rest of the tour, click HERE.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “The Gentlemen”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at STX Entertainment to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film from director Guy Ritchie, “The Gentlemen.”

The film will be shown on Wednesday, January 22 at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City, Missouri. The screening will begin at 7:00 pm.

If you’d like to attend all you have to do is click HERE! The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the allotted number of passes have been claimed the giveaway is over. Good Luck!!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Dolittle”

WE’VE GOT YOUR CHANCE TO WIN TICKETS TO SEE

“DOLITTLE!”

SATURDAY, JANUARY 11

10:00 A.M.

FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A PAIR A TICKETS TO THE FILM, CLICK HERE

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. 

DOLITTLE has been rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not Be Suitable for Children) for some action, rude humor and brief language.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “Bad Boys for Life”

Media Mikes has teamed up with the friends at Sony Pictures to give (25) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “Bad Boys for Life” in Kansas City.

The film, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, will be screened on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at the AMC Olathe 28 Theatre in Olathe, Kansas. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m.

If you want to attend, just click HERE to register for the screening. (25) random winners will be selected from all that registered and will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. You have until 5:00 pm on Saturday, January 11 to register for the passes. Winners will be randomly selected at that time and notified. Good luck!

  • BAD BOYS FOR LIFE
  • Tuesday, January 14, 2020 – 7:30 p.m.
  • AMC Olathe 28 Theatre – Olathe, Kansas

Kansas City Film Critics Circle names “1917” Best Film of 2019

“1917,” Sam Mendes’ look at a secret mission during World War I, was named the Best Film of the Year by the Kansas City Film Critics Circle.  The film also took home honors for Mendes’ direction and for its cinematography.  “1917” and “Us” were the only film to receive multiple awards, with “Us” star Lupita Nyong’o being named Best Actress while the film was chosen to receive the Vince Koehler Award for the year’s Best Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror Film.

Each year the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the second oldest critics organization in the United States, votes on their choices for the groups James Loutzenhiser Awards.  2019 marks the 54th time the group has passed out its awards.  The South Korean film “Parasite” was named the year’s Best Foreign Film while “Toy Story 4” joined the first three films in the series by also being named the year’s Best Animated Film, an amazing achievement.

Below is a complete list of the winners of the 54th Annual James Loutzenhiser Awards

  • BEST FILM:                                        “1917”
  • ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
  • FOR BEST DIRECTOR                      Sam Mendes for “1917”
  • BEST ACTOR                         Adam Driver in “Marriage Story”
  • BEST ACTRESS                                 Lupita Nyong’o in “US”
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR           Joe Pesci in ‘The Irishman”
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS        Da’Vine Joy Randolph in “Dolemite is My Name”
  • BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY     Rian Johnson for “Knives Out”
  • BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY      Greta Gerwig for “Little Women”
  • BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY Roger Deakins for “1917”
  • BEST ANIMATED FEATURE           “Toy Story 4”
  • BEST FOREIGN FILM                       “Parasite” – South Korea
  • BEST DOCUMENTARY                    “Amazing Grace” and “Apollo 11” (tie)
  • VINCE KOEHLER AWARD
  • FOR THE BEST SCIENCE                “Us”
  • FICTION/FANTASY/HORROR
  • FILM  
  • TOM POE AWARD FOR THE
  • BEST LGBT FILM                              “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”      

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Bombshell”

Media Mikes has teamed with their friends at Lionsgate to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first in Kansas City to see the new film “Bombshell,” starring Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie.

The film will be screened on Wednesday, December 18th, at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City and will begin at 7:00 pm

To attend, all you have to do is click HERE. The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the allotted number of passes have been claimed the giveaway is ended. ENJOY THE MOVIE!

Social Media: @BombshellMovie

Hashtag: #BombshellMovie

Website:  https://bombshell.movie/

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “21 Bridges”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at STX Entertainment to give (50) readers and a guest the opportunity to be among the first to see the new film “21 Bridges,” starring Chadwick Boseman.

The film will be shown on Wednesday, November 20, at the AMC Town Center Theatre in Leawood, Kansas. The screening will begin at 7:00 pm.

If you want to attend, all you have to do is click HERE. The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended. Enjoy the shot!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Knives Out”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Lionsgate to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film, “Knives Out,” starring Chris Evans, Toni Collette and Christopher Plummer.

The screening will be held on Tuesday, November 19th, at the B & B Overland Park 16 Theatre in Overland Park, Kansas. The film will begin at 7:00 pm.

To attend, all you have to do is click HERE. The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. One the allotted number of passes have been claimed, the giveaway has ended. Enjoy the show!

“Knives Out” opens nationwide on November 27th.

#KnivesOut

@KnivesOut

@KnivesOutOfficial (Facebook)

Win Passes to the Kansas City screening of “The Report”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Amazon Originals to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “The Report,” starring Adam Driver and Annette Bening.

The film will screen on Tuesday, November 12th at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City. The show begins at 7:00 pm

If you’d like to attend, all you have to do is click HERE. If you do not have an Amazon Screenings account you will have to create one. The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended. Enjoy the show!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Limit one (1), up to an admit-two pass per person, while supplies last.  A limited number of admit-two passes are available per code and once all passes are redeemed, the code will be invalid.  This film is rated R for some scenes of inhumane treatment and torture, and language.  Must be 17 years of age or older to receive pass.  Seating is available on a first-come, first served basis.  Employees of all promotional partners and their agencies are not eligible.  Void where prohibited.  SEATING IS LIMITED, SO ARRIVE EARLY.  PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE A SEAT AT THE SCREENING.  Refer to screening pass for further restrictions. 

Synopsis:  THE REPORT is a thriller based on actual events. Idealistic staffer Daniel J. Jones (Adam Driver) is tasked by his boss Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) to lead an investigation of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program created in the aftermath of 9/11. Jones’ relentless pursuit of the truth leads to findings that uncover the lengths to which the nation’s top intelligence agency went to destroy evidence, subvert the law, and hide a shocking secret from the American public. THE REPORT is written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, and the film also stars Jon Hamm, Sarah Goldberg, Michael C. Hall, Douglas Hodge, Fajer Kaisi, Ted Levine, Jennifer Morrison, Tim Blake Nelson, Linda Powell, Matthew Rhys, T. Ryder Smith, Corey Stoll, and Maura Tierney.  Rated R.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Midway”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Lionsgate to give (50) readers the chance to receive a pass for (2) to attend the Kansas City screening of the new film “Midway.”

The film will be shown on Monday, November 4th at B&B Shawnee Theatre in Shawnee, Kansas and will begin at 7:00 pm

All you have to do to receive a pass is click HERE. The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended.

Elite Comics Bringing 2019 Halloween ComicFest to Kansas City This Weekend

Elite Comics’ Halloween ComicFest just got BIGGER! 

For an event this epic, Elite Comics has moved the event to the Overland Park Convention Center, where they will take over Courtyard Ballrooms 1-3!  This means there will be over 10,000 square feet of toys, statues, trades, hardcovers, and comics, comics, comics! They will have over 50,000 $1 comics, over 20,000 Silver Age Comics, and collectibles of every sort!  It is also Halloween FREE Comic Book Day with 1000’s of free comics! 

Media Mikes will have a table at the show, giving away Swag from such upcoming films as “Download” and “Midway.” They will also be recording their “Behind the Mikes” Podcast from the event. Stop by and say “hello!”

Make plans to be at the Overland Park Convention Center, 6000 College Blvd, Overland Park, KS 66211 Sunday, October 27 from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.  Admission and parking to the event are FREE!

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT AT THIS YEAR’S HALLOWEEN ComicFEST

  • A HUGE artists alley with over 30 talented comic creators! Come get original art, exclusive books, rare collectibles, and autographs from the artists themselves!
  • October is also when Elite Comics kicks their Children’s Mercy Toy Drive into high gear! There will be awesome drawings and raffles all day long to raise money for kids stuck in the hospital over the holidays!
  • Stop by the gaming alley to play some awesome spooky board games and the cyber cafe for refreshments!
  • Last, but definitely not least, participate in the huge COSTUME CONTEST! You know you want one more chance to show off your cosplay and/or Halloween outfit. Especially when there are prizes involved.

Bring the family and make a day of it!

THE FOLLOWING ARTISTS ARE SCHEDULED TO BE IN ATTENDANCE:

  • RYAN KINCAID
    • He has done covers for all the major publishers!  Come get some very rare variant covers signed by one of the hottest artists in comics!
  • ANDE PARKS
    • Ande has worked on every major title in is 20+ year comic career. His writing career is as impressive!   Writing credits like Capote in Kansas, and Union Station which led to his Ciudad original graphic novel which will be a Russo Brothers Netflix movie.  Come meet the man, get an autograph, buy a book and get some valuable hat advice!
  • BRYAN TIMMINS
    • Bryan will be showing his awesome art including his specialty of sharks and dinosaurs!  Make sure to stop by his table and get one of his prints or get a book signed!
  • JULIE TIMMINS
    • Julie will be in artists alley reading tarot cards and  foretelling your future of getting a bunch of great comics and having a blast at the Halloween ComicFest!
  • ED LAVALLEE
    • Come check out his  books Pop Star Assassin, Revere and Archeon! He might also let you stroke his beard if your lucky!
  • RUDY GARCIA
    • Known as the Pumpkin King, Rudy has professionally sculpted for every major toy and statue company in the business! And his pumpkin carving has literally taken him around the world! 
  • MEGAN LEVENS
    • She has worked on Buffy ,Star Trek, Back To The Future and many more! Come get one of her awesome sketches and hear some great stories about her Bostons!!
  • ED BICKFORD
    • Check out his Metal Robot, Pulp Robot and American Chop Suey comics!!
  • ARIE MONROE appearing
    • She is an incredible caricature artist and check out her comic!  She attended the Kubert school and has worked on a bunch of great comic projects
  • JEANNE BARNHILL
    • Designer, artist, lover of animals and mind behind almost everything you see on the windows, walls, cases and ceiling at Elite comics, Jeanne will be setting up and selling the awesome PopArtifacts items!  Toys and collectibles from the past displayed with the care and quality they deserve.
  • LORI BUNTIN
    • Lori is known as the city’s best custom framer.  She does all the framing for PopArtifacts!
  • BRYAN FYFFE
    • Bryan, the King of Halloween, is one of the most popular convention guests in America and will have a huge selection of awesome art to make your place a little cooler!
  • KARA LOVE
    • Kara will be here with her new anthology Local Haunts, spooky stories all set in hometowns around the world !  Come get a book signed and exchange scary stories just right for Halloween!!
  • ERICA BATTON
    • Creator, writer and artists of Panty Vigilante!  Come out and get some art, and get copies of your comics signed!
  • IRYNA STROGANOVA
    • She will be setting up in our huge artists alley!
  • ROD ZIRKLE
    • Face painter Rod Zirkle will be on-hand to make the day even more exciting.  Get the final touches added to your costume right before the costume contest!
  • BALDEMAR RIVAS
    • We are super happy to have art star and artist of Image Comics Unearth (issues 1 and 2 are out right now)  BALDEMAR RIVAS!  Come get some comics signed, get a sketch maybe even get your picture with comics newest sensation!
  • STEVE DANIELS
    • We are proud to have Mr. Kansas City, cartoonists STEVE DANIELS at our Halloween event!  Come get some art, get some books and ask him about his upcoming projects!
  • KYLE STRAHM
    • Kyle will be set up in our Halloween Comicfest artist alley!  Bring in your copies of Spread and Unearth and get his signature and his advice on organic gardening in the Midwest!!
  • STEPHEN SMITH
    • He will present his creations in our huge artist alley! You can score some cool art and argue about wrestling!
  • KELLY AARON
    • Will be showing her awesome at our Halloween ComicFest!  You can see her art all over town but if you want to see her art and see her be at the Elite ComicFest on October 27th!
  • JASON ARNETT
    • We are lucky to have local writing superstar and Kindness Community member JASON ARNETT!  Come buy one of his books and ask him about some of the awesome projects he has started at JCCC!
  • SKOTTIE YOUNG
    • We will have the awesome and talented SKOTTIE YOUNG doing an exclusive signing to benefit The Elite Comics Children’s Mercy Toy Drive! Get copy of the Marvel Art of Skottie Young Hardcover signed with 100% of the proceeds going to help make a better Christmas for kids in the hospital!

SEE YOU THERE!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Countdown”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at STX Entertainment to give (50) readers and a guest the opportunity to be among the first to see the new film “Countdown.”

The film will be shown on Wednesday, October 23rd at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City and will begin at 7:00 pm.

All you have to do to attend is click HERE. The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the show. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended. Enjoy the show!

“Countdown” opens nationwide on Friday, October 25th.

Kansas City Theater Review: “Hello, Dolly!”

  • HELLO, DOLLY
  • Starlight Theatre – Kansas City, Missouri
  • September 26, 2019

This has been one of the best seasons I’ve ever attended at Starlight and their final production of the season was no exception.  It gave audiences a chance to revisit one of the most popular shows off all time, “Hello, Dolly.”

The show revolves around the life of Dolly Levi, played brilliantly by multiple Tony-award nominee Carolee Carmello, a widowed master-of-all-trades whose main endeavor is match making.  She is currently meddling in the relationship between Ambrose kemper (Colin LeMoine) and his beloved Ermergarde (Laura Sky Herman).  The young ladies uncle, the very rich Horace Vandelgerder (and equally excellent John Bolton) does not feel Ambrose is a suitable suitor.  But when Dolly sets her mind to things…

A fun show with some spectacular dancing, “Hello, Dolly” is just coming off a recent Broadway engagement, with the dynamic Bette Midler, that won 4 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.  The original production, which debuted 55 years ago, took home 10 Tony Awards.

The fun in the show is infectious, thanks to the amazing cast.  When I  mentioned that I was seeing this production, I was asked if Betty Buckley was playing Dolly.  She wasn’t.  And, as much as I love Betty Buckley (I saw her on Broadway in “Sunset Boulevard”) I’m so glad I was able to see Ms. Carmello in the role.  Armed with a beautiful voice and great comic timing, she had the audience in the palm of her hand from her first appearance on stage.  Mr. Bolton, who I saw on Broadway two decades ago in the musical “Titanic” has just the right amount of bluster to make Vandergelder lovable.  The chemistry between the two is very visible.  Supporting cast members, including Kansas City native Daniel Beeman (Cornelius) and Analisa Leaming (Mrs. Malloy), also give strong performances.  And the “background” performers – townspeople, etc – are among the best dance ensembles I’ve ever seen.

“Hello, Dolly” runs at Starlight through September 29.  If you don’t get to see it there, I urge you to see it when it hits your town.  For tour information, please click HERE

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Hustlers”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at STX Entertainment to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first in Kansas City to see the new film “Hustlers.” The film, which stars Jennifer Lopez, will be screened on Wednesday, September 11th at the Cinemark Theatre in Merriam, Kansas. The show begins at 7:00.

To attend, all you have to do is click HERE. The first (50) to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. When the allotted number of passes have been claimed, the giveaway has ended. Good Luck!

“Hustlers” opens nationwide on Friday, September 13th!

 

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Kansas City Concert Review: “Weird Al” Yankovic – STRINGS ATTACHED

  • “Weird Al” Yankovic – Strings Attached Tour
  • August 31, 2019
  • Starlight Theater, Kansas City, Missouri

PHOTOS BY DAN LYBARGER

FINALLY!!

Like many other people, I have a musical bucket list. This is a list of people or groups I MUST see before I die. Over the past few years I’ve been able to cross a few of them off my list. Van Morrison? Check. Tom Petty? Check – and rest in peace. Santana? Check. But tonight I finally crossed of one that has been on my list for almost 40 years when I took in the amazing “Weird Al” Yankovic!

It was September 14, 1980. Two days before my 20th birthday. That night, while listening to Dr. Demento’s radio show, he had a guest in studio that wanted to play a song of his. The guest was “Weird Al” and the song was Another One Rides the Bus, a clever parody of Queen’s current hit Another One Bites the Dust. Something about Al – his personality oozed through my radio – instantly endeared him to me, and I listened regularly, hoping to catch one of Al’s new ditties.

On November 24, 1991 I had planned on seeing him when he came to Baltimore. He had made an appearance at a local record store – wow, I just dated myself – and very graciously signed two of my album. For some reason, if memory serves me, the show was cancelled or moved to another date. The only thing I can remember from that date is that this was the day Freddie Mercury and KISS drummer Eric Carr died. Almost three decades later, I finally fulfilled my plan.

The name of the tour – “Strings Attached” – is to inform you that not only is Al traveling with his band, but he’s bringing a 41-piece orchestra with him. Led by conductor Eric Roth, the orchestra began the night with some classic movie themes, beginning with John Williams’ “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” As I listened in rapt attention, I couldn’t help but notice one of the violinists having the time of his life playing the music. While many of the orchestra members sat still and stiff, he would move his head to the music and it was obvious that he was that rare person who really loves his job! After a few more themes, finishing with The Throne Room and End Title music from “Star Wars,” there was a 20 minute break before Al and his band joined the orchestra on stage.

I love this guy!!

Dressed in his customary loud Hawaiian shirt, the show began with a quick medley of I Lost on Jeopardy, I Love Rocky Road and Like a Surgeon. He then went into a photo-filled version of The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota. As the show progressed, Al would often play along with the band and the audience. During one break, as the band played a chair was brought out for him to sit in. His brow was then mopped and a glass of wine brought to him. A touching version of You Don’t Love Me Anymore was prefaced by him thanking the Martin Guitar Company for replacing the guitar that was inadvertently broken during their last gig. When the song was over the guitar, which Al never played, was shattered in anger ala Pete Townsend.

As the night progressed, the band also got into the act, sporting everything from Viking Helmets to an impressive collection of “Star Wars” outfits. In between the audience was treated to several videos. One was a compilation of many of the television programs and films Yankovic has appeared in or been mentioned on, including “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons,” 30 Rock” and “The Naked Gun.” Their was also a faux trailer for a film called “WEIRD,” which featured Aaron Paul as “Weird Al.” He also did a nice walk through the audience and had a member of the audience electrify the show with a rousing Oboe solo!

Bass player Steve Jay kept the beat all night.

One thing that I really noticed is that Al Yankovic, weird or not, has an amazing voice. There were a couple of times when he held prolonged notes that made me think if the funny song thing didn’t work out he’d be fronting a metal band somewhere.

The show ended in an amazing “Star Wars” style, with Al and the band dressed as everyone from Darth Vader to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Unfortunately we were only allowed to take photos during the first three songs of the evening so we can’t share the images with you. Just use your imagination.

When the show was over I headed to my car, humming Another One Rides the Bus, smiling and thinking to myself one thing. FINALLY!!

SET LIST: The Orchestra – Main titles from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Superman: the Movie.” The Throne Room/End Title from “Star Wars.”

“Weird Al” with Orchestra – I Lost on Jeopardy/I Love Rocky Road/Like a Surgeon (Medley), The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota, Word Crimes, Jurassic Park, Don’t Download this Song, Weasel Stomping Day, You Don’t Love Me Anymore, Harvey the Wonder Hamster, Jackson Park Express, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Dare to Be Stupid, White and Nerdy, Amish Paradise. ENCORE: The Saga Continues, Yoda.