It’s not every day that the best of Broadway is brought to your campus and performed to a level that mirrors the pros–but that’s exactly what happened in the McConnell Theatre this past weekend.
From the opening number of “Live in Living Color” to the energetic ending of “Footloose,” the show never wavered in entertainment as the CWU Theatre Ensemble tackled some of the greatest Broadway numbers to grace the stage.
Photos by: McKenzie Lakey
It’s incredibly difficult to narrow down the show to a few favorites, but looking back there are a couple that I carried with me long after the show was over. While all are incredible, these drew me into the music, into the moment and left me humming their tunes for the next several days.
“21 Guns” (American Idiot)-Directed by Jeff Rowden
Jeff Rowden’s version of this song beautifully portrays the internal conflict of a single individual–something that separates it from the original meaning and performance by Green Day (which serves more as an ode to a fallen comrade than to an internal conflict).
The constant contrast in choreography, with Jeff on one side of the stage and Chris S. on the other, really brought the piece to life. Because of the contrast, for the first few moments of the number you would believe that the show is going to remain about two individuals.
However, near the end Jeff and Chris stand side-by-side at attention, saluting in the direction of the audience. This is where the true revelation that the characters are one in the same occurs. As Jeff’s character collapses to his knees in defeat, Chris’s hand is lowered to cover his face before he his carried away by the cast and a further internal struggle ensues.
Perhaps the reason I connected to this song on a personal level was because of the meaning behind the lyrics or simply because I have known the song from years of being driven towards alternative music. Regardless, I don’t think I have ever read into the lyrics of “21 Guns” as much as I have in the days following the show.
Were it not for the choreography, beautiful visuals and vocals that unfolded on the stage, I would have never pulled so much emotion from this song. It made me question the way that songs are interpreted by every listener and how they can be visually represented. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to that song again without feeling the same way that I did the first time I saw it come to life.
“All That Jazz” (Chicago)-Directed by Casey Adam Craig
Another number that was displayed beautifully was “All That Jazz.” I grew up watching (and admiring) the talent of every member in every song of both the play and movie. I’m not going to lie, I thought about pursuing theater when I was about seven based solely on the fact that I fell in love with the soundtrack of Chicago. (Luckily I came to my senses and realized I’m much better off in the audience or off-stage with a camera…)
There was such an incredible amount of energy and passion that poured throughout the cast’s version of this song. The crescendo of the lead vocals and the underlying chorus of chants from the cast exploded into a ripple of energy that could catch even the most well-versed Chicago fan off-guard.
Ultimately this was a great way to cap off the first act and was the perfect teaser as to what’s to come in this year’s spring production of Chicago.
*Virtual Standing Ovation*
I have to admit, I didn’t go to this show just once. After opening night I decided to grab another ticket and head back for round two. Watching the show for a second time I realized how much confidence the cast had after opening night and noticed that every single person on that stage absolutely soared with confidence. Their lifts were smoother, their timing was cleaner and their harmonies were more in tune.
To put it simply, I was blown away. Not only by our Hype Street Team members–Jakob Wachter and Aubrey Schultz–who were in the Revue and did a wonderful job as well, but by the entire cast.
Overall, I just wanted to say how much I appreciated the cast of the show and the incredible amount of work that they placed into every number that they produced. The fact that they are able to pull off a show so beautifully in addition to their classes, work schedules and personal lives is astonishing. Keep it up, CWU Theatre!