Baked to Perfection: Livingston’s Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza

Baked to Perfection: Livingston’s Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza

By Felicia Ho ’19

Craving a slice of pie in the cold days of winter? Dreaming of that crispy brown crust crumbling with a satisfying crunch and that smooth tomato sauce melting with a fresh layer of mozzarella cheese? Put down the phone for Pizza Brothers, Dominos, Pizza Hut, or wherever your pizza pangs typically lead you. Instead, stop by the nearest Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza to dig into some hearty Italian fare.

With six locations in New Jersey alone, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza has exploded in popularity since its first doors opened in 2002. Anthony Bruno, the founder, takes pride in every step of the process  – picking the freshest ingredients, making and stretching the dough daily, handling orders, sliding the pizza into an 800-degree coal fired oven, and presenting the pie to customers. In fact, every single item on the menu (excluding the cheesecake and the salads, of course!) is baked in the 800-degree coal fired oven and delivers a smoky and crunchy first bite.

While you are anxiously waiting for that first bite, take a look around the restaurant. Hanging on the walls are a few signs left behind from those who came before you. There’s a framed, signed jersey, probably from legendary quarterback Dan Marino, who frequents Anthony’s Pizza in Florida and is the inspiration behind the Eggplant Marino pizza; some magazine and newspaper clippings; and a series of black-and-white photos with celebrities. In a few moments, you too will join their ranks.

When ordering, keep in mind that portion sizes are large, as the dishes are meant to be shared with family and friends. As for appetizers, try the Coal Oven Roasted Chicken Wings with caramelized onions and focaccia, a flat oven-baked Italian bread that is nicely seasoned with a mix of spices that accents the flavor of the onions. The drumsticks are incredibly juicy, and the blackened char adds an edge to the tender, white chicken.

If you’re feeling adventurous, go for the speciality pies; personal favorites of mine include the Philly Cheesesteak and the Eggplant Marino. Topped with caramelized onions and marinated steak, a slice of the philly cheesesteak does a great job of rekindling memories of Philadelphia’s best. The Eggplant Marino is a must-get – especially for any vegetarians in the family. Even though the eggplant is sliced into paper-thin pieces, each bite is juicy and tangy, complimenting the thickness of the cheese. Of course, there is always the trustworthy build-your-own-pizza option to solve any arguments at the table.

A few thoughts to consider before you wrap up your order: if you are ordering the calzone, be prepared for a small pool of oil oozing out of the ricotta and cheese stuffed into the shell. It is definitely not a finger food, and even the length of a small calzone is about the diameter of small pie. Experiment by adding a little color to your plate – try the Arugula Pizza or the classic Arugula Salad with Burrata.

One of the downsides to Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza might be just how filling it is: by the end of every lunch at Anthony’s, I am ready to fall into a food coma. Of course, that blissful happiness of finishing a meal well done attests to the rich flavor even in the crispy, thin pizzas. Where else can you grab a slice right out of a 800-degree coal fired oven?

Fu’s Fantastic Reads

Fu’s Fantastic Reads

By Kristine Fu’19

In this book column, I will run through and review some of my favorite books I’ve recently read. My first suggestion is Becoming by Michelle Obama, a refreshingly candid autobiography. She delves into her childhood and life as the first African American First Lady, telling the reader about her background and how she found her voice. Obama shares her authentic self with the reader, taking us through her life full of accomplishments and meaning. The book is split into three parts: “Becoming Me,” “Becoming Us,” and “Becoming More.” Each section brings new perspectives and sheds light onto her own life and the life of her husband, President Barack Obama. As the story continues, you see how she grows, not only as a person, but as a mother, a wife, and a First Lady. Enduring and facing many obstacles, Michelle Obama inspires the reader to become truly and unabashedly themselves.

My next suggestion is Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. A very complex book with a chilling plot and well-developed characters, Death on the Nile is a great book to get you started in the Hercule Poirot series. The book starts slowly by introducing all of the characters and eventually building up to the murder on a cruise in Egypt. The real investigations begin when Linnet Ridgeway, a beautiful, rich socialite, is murdered in the prime of her life. She comes onto the cruise for her honeymoon with her new husband. Luckily, Hercule Poirot, world-renowned detective, happens to be on the same boat. The people on the boat all have separate motives and agendas, and it is up to Hercule Poirot to uncover the truth. Christie introduces many plotlines in the book, and, as the reader, you must avoid the red herrings and try to solve the murder.

Finally, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a heist story with diverse characters in a fantasy world. The book begins with a short prologue that introduces the setting of this story: a city of thieves, liars, and opportunity. Like many fantasy novels, it does start slow, but the pace quickly picks up. The book is focused on six central characters, each with their own narratives and different skill sets. All the characters have interesting flaws that draw the reader to sympathize with them. Bardugo weaves a grimy fantasy complete with knives, guns, magic, and technology. The character clashes and interactions increase tensions, and, as you keep reading the book, the stakes get higher and higher until the final moment when all is revealed.

Snow Many Dresses, So Little Time

Snow Many Dresses, So Little Time

By Kristine Fu ’19

With the end of winter break, we are reminded that the annual Snowball Dance is approaching! This year, Snowball is on Saturday, January 26th. It is a night to relax, hang out with friends, and take pictures in our beautiful dresses and handsome suits. For some, dress shopping can be overwhelming; there are dozens of dress websites and endless choices for cut, color, decals, etc. If you don’t know where to start, I would recommend perusing through the Revolve website or the Nordstrom site, both of which have a wide variety of options and brands. H&M ($) offers a wide range of styles, from elegant crushed-velvet dresses to eye-catching sequin dresses. For monochromatic bodycon dresses, check out Lulus ($$). Their wrap and skater dresses are typically solid colors, without flashy details. On the other hand, Zara is your go-to for avant-garde styles, such as studded dresses, snake print, and silk chain-print. Free People ($$$) is known for its unique designs with ruffles, lace, jacquard fabrics, and classy floral prints. Consider Rent the Runway ($-$$$) if you are interested in wearing haute couture like Chanel or Versace for less. This company is also a practical option since you will likely only wear the accessories and dress once a year.

The final recommendations for finding the perfect outfit: 1) For those who shop online, be sure to buy your dress early! Avoid the panic when your dress arrives the day before January 26th and ends up not fitting right. 2) Dress for confidence! Your dress is a form of self-expression, so you should feel confident and comfortable in whatever you choose.

Satisfy a Boiling Passion at Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

Satisfy a Boiling Passion at Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

By Felicia Ho ’19

Winter is brutal. Icy winds blow through your useless coat, chilling you to the bone. Your car might be smothered under a thick layer of snow, and your hands, already numb from shoveling snow off the driveway, will be as frozen as the icicles hanging down from your roof. When the world succumbs to darkness at 5:00 PM, where do you turn to for some warmth and light?

Here’s some advice based on my own experience living in this post-apocalyptic nightmare: step inside Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot in Edison, NJ.

Soft, acoustic pop song covers blend in with quiet chatter from large and small families alike, creating a cozy atmosphere inside. When you arrive at your table, you might be surprised to see a black, rectangular stove top sitting in the center. You may think, “am I actually at Benihana?”

No – this is where the magic of hot pot happens.

Hot pot is a traditional Chinese dish typically enjoyed during the winter, and involves preparing a simmering pot of soup and placing all kinds of foods, from lamb meat to fish dumplings, into the pot to cook at the table.

Ready to get started? First, choose a soup base. In addition being a well-known chain in China that has now expanded to over 30 different locations in the U.S., Little Sheep celebrates central Mongolian traditional cuisine by offering two different soups: a simple broth with goji berries, jujubes, black cardamom pods, ginseng, and herbs; or a spicy red broth with chili oil and peppercorns. If this is your first time, I recommend the half and half pot with both soups. Now, it’s time to pick what you will be cooking inside of the pot. There is a wide variety of meats, vegetables, seafood, and noodles — don’t be afraid to try new things and order away! As a four-person family, we typically order lamb, beef, the seafood combo, fish balls with roe stuffed inside, fish tofu, beef tripe, spinach, napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, crab sticks, pumpkin, taro, glass noodles (long, silky noodles that dissolve in your mouth), and egg dumplings. You can also order sides like the sesame pancake, which is satisfyingly crunchy on the outside and has layers of fluffy, soft bread inside, or the sesame balls, filled with my absolute favorite — sweet red bean paste — for dessert.

After you order, head over to the sauce bar. The sauce is a key component to eating hot pot, as the food cooked in hot pot typically lacks in flavor. There are several sauces available; the most popular being sesame paste and sha cha sauce, which has the tang of barbeque sauce and the hearty base of Italian meat sauce. Feel free to mix and match, and sprinkle a few green onions on top at the end.

By this time, the broth should be boiling and ready to cook all the delicious food you ordered. As a few general guidelines, Little Sheep recommends 10-15 seconds in the pot for thin sliced meat, 1-2 minutes for green vegetables, and 3-5 minutes for all other ingredients. Here’s a tip: the spicy broth cooks faster than the regular one.

As you savor the last bits of a taro that dissolve in your mouth or break open a fish ball filled with roe, you’ll watch everyone, from your annoying five-year-old little brother to your beloved 75-year-old grandmother, join in on the fun of cooking their own food.

Don’t worry if you have a “food baby” by the end of your hot pot journey; treat this meal as a reward that you deserve after all your hard work studying for tests, writing papers, and preparing presentations during these last few weeks leading up to winter break.

STC Acheivements and Holiday Season Tech

By Aneesh Karuppur ’21

The December season is one of the most active for new technology, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday marking the beginning of the holidays. But before delving into the tech world at large, let us take a look at how the Student Technology Committee (STC) is making Pingry an even more technologically advanced school.

           In early November, STC welcomed its new members for the 2018-2019 school year:  Michael Sun (VI), Chris Gu (III), Lukas Strelecky (III), Jamie Wang (V), Sumant Sagar (IV), Abigail Rubino (III), Ashley Lu (V), Julian Lee (IV), Jessica Yatvitskiy (IV), Brian Li (III), Colin Wen (V), Katherine Xie (III), and Thomas Beacham (V).

Notably, STC announced that Pingry is now an Apple Authorized Service Provider that will go by the title “Pingry Bear Repair.” Students and faculty can have their Macbooks repaired and serviced at Pingry without having to drive out to the nearest Apple Store. Officially licensed and approved STC members will work carefully with Macbooks as technicians at any Apple Store would. Apple Certified Mac Technicians (ACMTs) are available during first flex and CP in the Tech Office.

           STC will also be working on many other projects during the school year. For example, STC’s How Cards will provide helpful tutorials on all sorts of tech questions, conveniently arranged in the form of virtual notecards. The Virtual Reality Curriculum will be receiving many updates as well, and STC hopes to integrate the Virtual Reality headset and computer station into many more classes. The communications team will be working on providing websites to Pingry publications (an example can be found at www.students.pingry.org/record!) and any clubs that request one. The Pingry Today app will be be receiving some new features, and assorted coding projects and possible school-wide charging stations round out this exciting list of projects.

           Turning back to the greater world of technology, Apple’s MacBook Air, one of the most popular and famous computers to ever be released, was finally updated after ten years. Long a staple of the Pingry 1:1 Program, the original MacBook Air was first launched in 2007 and was hailed as a light but fast machine for the ambitious student. The new MacBook Air features a brand-new processor, a memory bump, a much sharper screen, and a chassis made entirely out of recycled aluminum. The 128 Gigabytes model of the new Air starts at $1,199.

I personally do not recommend this laptop. If you are looking for a very light laptop, Apple’s normal MacBook is a better option. If you are looking to do a little more powerful work like modeling, photo and video editing, music production, and publications work, the base model MacBook Pro (without the Touch Bar) is a much better option for just a little more money and is in fact the very laptop this column was typed on. The original MacBook Air was revolutionary, but the new one has effectively become redundant in Apple’s line-up.

           In other Apple news, Apple also launched its new iPad Pro. It starts at $799, and is aimed at professional artists and content creators. It is very powerful, but runs iOS (just like an iPhone) and so is not a great option to serve Pingry students as a main device.

           Apple also released its long-awaited update to the Mac Mini. The Mac Mini has been the cheapest way to buy a Mac, especially because it doesn’t come with a display or a keyboard. The new Mac Mini features updated components and better upgradability down the road. Due to the fact that this is a desktop computer, I don’t recommend it for students, especially if they already have a Mac laptop for school.

Fashion, Thrift Stores & So Much More!

Fashion, Thrift Stores & So Much More!

By Kristine Fu ’19

Despite this season’s dreary weather, fall fashion is as colorful and vibrant as ever. This season, pastel-colored corduroy skirts, shearling sweaters, and studded ankle boots are in vogue, while floral sundresses and denim shorts have become a distant summer memory. In women’s fashion, Brandy Melville persists as the most popular clothing brand, as students opt for flowy Tilden pants and comfortable striped tops. Zara’s stylish skirts and dresses are also seen frequently in the halls. In men’s fashion, Vineyard Vines shirts, Patagonia sweaters, and Sperry Top-Siders remain wardrobe staples.

One easy way to spice up your look is with a statement piece. A pair of tassel earrings or chunky bracelets from Francesca’s can complete almost any basic outfit. At Zara, you can find striking and creative shoe styles, such as snake-print ankle boots, tweed ballet flats, and platform sneakers.

As an eco-friendly alternative to fast fashion, thrift shopping has been making a comeback! Especially because 90’s fashion is now à la mode, shop at your local thrift store for all the latest trends: mom jeans, Tommy Hilfiger polos, and velvet tops. Don a pair of matrix-style or cat-eye sunglasses from the 90’s for a retro look, rather than a cliché and overpriced pair of Kurt Cobain clout sunglasses from Urban Outfitters. For true haute-couture lovers, many thrift stores sell designer clothing for less. I love to visit The Realreal in SoHo, New York and try on vintage Valentino dresses and Yves Saint Laurent leather jackets. Thrift stores are museums of past trends. So, keep an open mind and take your time exploring all the quirky and unique pieces.

Nia Phillips describes her look in the photo to the right: “My jacket is actually from my mom’s closet and I distressed the pocket. My pants are from a thrift store in Bound Brook. My shoes are from Nordstrom Rack, and my shirt is from GAP.” For first-time thrift shoppers, Nia recommends shopping at major cities where you can find a variety of styles.

As John Galliano famously declared, “the joy of dressing is an art.” Whether your style is inspired by the gorgeous autumn palette or by chic looks from 90’s, stay bold and creative!

Kimchi, Bibimbap, and Soondubu – Oh My!

Kimchi, Bibimbap, and Soondubu – Oh My!

By Felicia Ho ’19

Looking for a quick bite after a long morning of running errands at Costco on Route 10 in East Hanover? Instead of reaching for a mountain of greasy fries from Five Guys, take a minute to walk just a bit further and stop by So Gong Dong (S.G.D.) Dubu Tofu and BBQ.

Once inside, you will be greeted by a simply decorated yet spacious room lined with traditional Korean brushstroke characters on all sides. At your seat, take a peek at the paper table mat to learn more about soondubu, S.G.D.’s prized tofu stew dish, and how it can reduce cancer risk—who knew you could learn so much at a restaurant?

The menu is very easy to follow as it is split into four primary components: soondubu, the tofu stew; bibimbap, a mixture of rice, kimchi, and meat or vegetables; Korean BBQ, a bowl of pork, beef, or chicken; and dishes to share. S.G.D. also gives you the power to choose how spicy your dishes will be to fit your preferences.

For those of you who are just venturing into the world of Korean cuisine, I highly recommend the vegetable bibimbap on a hot stone plate. The rice, egg, squash, mushrooms, bean curds, and kimchi will come out a little toasted on the bottom of the plate, adding a surprisingly pleasant crunch. Do not panic when your bibimbap arrives unmixed! Your job is to mix it all together and add as much gochujang, or Korean hot sauce, as you would like. Then, dig in – even if the dish may be as simple as putting white rice together with cooked vegetables, all the flavors will erupt in your mouth and truly warm you up.

The seafood pancake is a great choice to share with others. Similar to the spring onion pancake in Chinese cuisine, it is a fried pancake bursting with squid, chives, shrimp, and more. Brave the thin shimmer of oil and take a bite—you will not regret it!

Although you cannot grill your own pork, chicken, or beef at S.G.D., the Korean BBQ that is grilled in the kitchen and served in a steaming plate is fantastic. The meat is tender and chewy, melting in your mouth as you let out that sigh of happiness. Be sure to check out the onions tossed in to the plate as they have also been infused with that unique Korean spice and are super crispy.

In addition to the main plates, banchan, little cold Korean side dishes, will also be served with an egg drop soup. Banchan options range from sweet bean curds to cucumbers covered with gochujang. Even if you do not like spicy food, give the kimchi banchan a shot. Rather than numbing your mouth with an overpowering kick, the kimchi, combined with a dash of vinegar, gives more of a gentle nudge.

All items on the menu range in price from around 10 to 20 dollars, making S.G.D. an affordable place for lunch from newcomers to those who eat Korean food every day of their lives. As there are few Korean restaurants outside of Edison, Fort Lee, and K-Town in New York City, S.G.D. in East Hanover has always been a wonderful place for me to indulge in spicy kimchi without suffering in traffic. As the temperatures drop and the wind picks up, save that hot chocolate packet for later and instead look for the S.G.D. sign (indeed, it has several locations nationwide) to warm yourself up with a fresh and spicy bowl of bibimbap or tofu stew.   

 

New York Trip Provides an Exciting Start for Sophomores

New York Trip Provides an Exciting Start for Sophomores

By Zara Jacob ’21

The class of 2021 eased into their sophomore year with a trip to New York City, exploring exhibits in the Museum of Natural History and and seeing the Tony Award-winning “Best Musical,” Dear Evan Hansen.

With not a single textbook or laptop in hand, the grade split up onto four buses and headed on a 90-minute ride to the city. After reaching the museum, they were divided by advisories, perusing the various exhibits at the museum. Unlike previous years, when a scavenger hunt was assigned, the students had the freedom to pick which exhibits they wanted to visit with their advisories. Many of the students appreciated this change; Meghan Durkin (IV) explained, “I enjoyed the museum more than I anticipated because I got to see exhibits that I thought were interesting, as opposed to a plan created by our advisors.” From fossils to dioramas filled with cavemen, the first segment of the trip maintained a good balance of fun and education.

After eating lunch in the museum, the students made their way back to the buses and headed to the theater. Despite a slight accidental detour, all 150 sophomores eventually made it to the correct theater, where they watched the 2 o’clock showing of Dear Evan Hansen. As the students crowded up the stairs, many stopped for snacks, waiting anxiously for the musical to begin.

Dear Evan Hansen tackles themes of bullying, loneliness, and suicide — daunting topics that many teenagers face today. Sanjana Biswas (IV) said, “The musical was relevant to the modern times we live in, and the portrayal of social media and its platform was very accurate.”

The musical begins with showing two teenage boys who struggle with depression and anxiety. Evan, the protagonist of the musical, desperately seeks to step out of the shadows and be noticed. We see Evan’s yearning for true care and appreciation through the passionate performance of his song, “Waving Through a Window.” His mother, juggling school and work, struggles to be there for Evan, and his therapist suggests he write letters to himself to help his self-confidence (hence the name Dear Evan Hansen). The other teenage boy, Connor Murphy, is briefly introduced to the audience before committing suicide.

Through a series of unfortunate events, one of Evan’s letters to himself, which discusses his troubling thoughts and anxieties, is with Connor on the day he commits suicide, and is misconstrued as Connor’s last words being addressed to Evan. Stuck in an impossible situation, Evan hopes for everything to blow over, but ends up meeting with Connor’s family almost every day and pretends to have known Connor as a best friend. All of Evan’s dreams begin to come true – he lands the girl of his dreams, feels the warmth of a loving, present family, and becomes famous on social media. To know how Evan fares throughout the rest of the musical, you will have to go and see it. From the actors to the captivating music, it is no wonder that Dear Evan Hansen has won so many awards.

After the show, the sophomores headed back to Pingry, their first day of school having come to an end.

Karappur Keeps Up with the Tech World

By Aneesh Karuppur ’21

Back to school means new teachers, new courses, and, of course, new technology. This past summer at Pingry, members of STC interned with the Technology Department. Under the guidance of Mr. Frantz, Mr. Azar, and Mr. Burkhart, two teams completed various projects to prepare the school for a new year.

The hardware-oriented tech team installed projectors and Roku streaming devices, prepared old equipment to be sold, repaired faculty computers, and completed a variety of other projects. The software-oriented code team successfully completed a more efficient version of the Pingry event approval system, taught the Python programming language to faculty, and designed a new curriculum for Pingry’s existing computer science courses.

Aditya Gollapudi (VI), a member of the Code Team, said this about the experience: “[We] felt very lucky to have so much trust placed in us by the [Computer Science] department. Not only were we given control over design decisions in a product that will hopefully be used by much of the administration, but we were also allowed to help shape the high school, middle school, and elementary school CS curricula. To have that level of trust in a high schooler is unique to places like Pingry.”

Noah Bergam (IV) also commented about his time as a member of the Tech Team: “Pingry’s tech internship was a lot more than just installing projectors and sorting inventory. As we worked and went on breaks, we were able to have interesting conversations about the tech world at large, about topics ranging from cryptocurrency to cars to Facebook’s data scandal. In these little conversations, I was able to learn a lot from my coworkers.”

Some exciting technology news has transpired in the world at large in the last few months. In September, Apple held its much anticipated iPhone and Apple Watch launch event. The new phones are the XR, XS, and XS Max. The iPhone XR, Apple claims, boasts the most advanced LCD in the industry. The iPhone XS and XS Max are Apple’s flagship phones this year, featuring sharper OLED screens. All of the phones use the Apple-designed A12 Bionic chip, which includes Apple’s Neural Engine for augmented reality and advanced camera capabilities. The XS features an improved rear dual-camera setup that expands on last year’s iPhone X, while the XR features a single rear camera.

The Apple Watch Series 4 features a 30% larger screen and a thinner design. As with last year’s model, it is available with cellular connectivity. It includes more activities to track workouts and can be equipped with an ECG (electrocardiogram) to determine your heart’s electrical activity. This makes it easier to monitor your heart and enables it to help alert you of any problems.

In August, Samsung released its flagship Galaxy Note 9 smartphone. It features an enormous amount of onboard storage, so you won’t have to worry about running out of space on your phone again. The phone also comes with its trademark S Pen, a stylus that can be used to write on the phone.

Finally, in July, Apple suddenly released its new line of MacBook Pros . . . and then immediately apologized once reports of overheating started rolling in. They soon after released a bug fix; the overheating is no longer much of an issue. They feature Apple’s in-house T2 chip, which bundles stronger security features with other (previously separate) controllers. I offer a word of warning about these new MacBooks: Apple has removed the data recovery port that was present in earlier MacBook Pros. If the logic board fails and you do not have a backup, your data may be lost.

Sing and Dance Along in Your Seats to Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again!

Sing and Dance Along in Your Seats to Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again!

By Martha Lewand ’20

Ever since the movie Mamma Mia was released, fans (including myself) have been anxiously waiting for a sequel. Ten highly-anticipated years later, Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again! is finally here! Directed by Ol Parker, the film had my friends and I singing joyously and dancing out of our seats in the movie theater.

The movie includes two concurring storylines, one of young Donna Sheridan (played by Lily James) and the other of her daughter Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfreid) in current times. Circa late 1970s, young Donna has just graduated from university and is eager for adventure. The story details how she meets young Bill (Josh Dylan), Harry (Hugh Skinner), and Sam (Jeremy Irvine) trekking through Europe and ultimately makes her way to the Greek island of Kalokairi. In present day, Sophie grapples with her mother’s (Meryl Streep) recent death, the responsibility of reopening the hotel her mother started, relationship troubles with her husband Sky (Dominic Cooper), and an impending storm potentially preventing her two fathers, Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), from attending the reopening.  

No doubt, the best part of the film is the musical numbers. Covers of songs from the first movie are beautifully sung with their own twists while still respecting the original versions.  Classics such as “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia,” and, most notably, “Waterloo” all come to life again under the new direction. In the first version, the ABBA tune “Waterloo” was played during the closing credits as the cast danced and sang along.  In the sequel, the song is revised in a scene that takes place in a local Parisian cafe with young Donna and Harry. The song is performed in an elaborate fashion, with berets, baguettes, cartwheeling waiters, and French Revolution-esque costumes stealing the show. The corniness of the new “Waterloo” adds an amusing, engaging charm the older version did not possess.  

While acknowledging the musical foundation of the first film, Mamma Mia 2 is able to create new songs that fit seamlessly in the plot and are remarkably catchy. When young Donna graduates from college, she performs “When I Kissed the Teacher,” a song that represents the provocative, audacious, and spunky side of Donna’s character to which we are just being introduced. Lily James superbly embodies young Donna’s free spirit throughout her quality vocal performances.

To offer a point of criticism, although I respect Ol Parker’s decision to take on the massive plot, the constant back and forth between time periods is confusing to follow at times. With that being said, however, what I admire most about Mamma Mia 2 is its goal to not attempt to recreate the plot and success of the first movie. For example, most people disagree with the inclusion of Meryl Streep-as-Donna’s death and argue that the exclusion of the actress hurts the movie. But after viewing the film, I conclude that it was a shrewd decision. Even though it was risky to remove an icon like Meryl Streep, the entire movie pays homage to her; the retelling and glorification of Donna’s life story is the most prominent and sentimental element of the whole movie.

The amazing collaboration of the new and old casts, catchy music, and a complex plot with twists and turns throughout make Mamma Mia 2 a hit. If you are ever in the mood to dance and sing along to some classic, uplifting tunes, I strongly recommend seeing Mamma Mia 2 as soon as possible.