For those who enjoy the sometimes touching, often corny world of Broadway musicals comes Showstoppers: A Musical Revue, which makes its second appearance this year for commencement weekend. The student-produced show has its first performance tonight at 8 p.m.
The concept of the production is that of an actual musical revue. The scene is set with a loosely structured bar room, and opens with "Telephone Dance" from Cabaret. In this way, Showstoppers is a sort of musical within a musical, with a rough plot of its own. However, the main idea behind the performance is a look at a variety of numbers from Broadway's past. "It's sort of strung together," said first-year Laura Shepherd, Showstoppers production coordinator. "There's a little bit of connection between the numbers, but not much."
Showstoppers is the product of junior Jacob Hauser and first-year Gregory Ristow's creative collaboration; the former directs and the latter orchestrates. Ristow selected the numbers used - a fairly eclectic mix of tunes from Into The Woods to The Little Shop of Horrors. Hauser wrote the dialog in between the numbers, making the package a series of musicals inside one large musical. The show was originally the concept of its makers' winter term projects and has been the focus of work and refinement every day since.
The original show debuted just over a month ago, but a few unexpected kinks had to be worked in the past week due to changes in the cast. "We lost one cast member, and added four more to the pit," Shepherd said. First-year John Erwin had to leave the show Tuesday "due to unforeseen circumstances which took him back to California," as Shepherd explained.
But, as they say, the show must go on. "We had to do some juggling around," Shepherd said of the incomplete cast. "Especially with a 10-person cast, losing one person is a big deal." The remaining cast members made some shifts in choreography to compensate for Erwin's absence, and, despite a few numbers when one of the women is left dancing without a male counterpart, the show runs smoothly.
Showstoppers has done well on the whole, even with such little time to practice. "Especially considering we've only been rehearsing for five days, it's going amazingly well," Shepherd said. "They sound really, really good." The actors remembered most of the moves and tunes from the first time around, so the week of rehearsal has mainly been spent refining the original script to fill Erwin's place and pin down the numbers.
One exciting aspect of the show is the fact that it is the first student-produced, student-directed show to go up in Hall in 22 years. This year, all other shows to go in the large theater have been faculty-related in some way. Members of Showstoppers were flattered by the fact that their production was granted the opportunity to take place in the campus' main performance center. "It's an honor to work in Hall auditorium," said first-year Rachel Pearlman, Showstopper's stage manager.
Hall is a big step up from First Church where it first ran at the end of April. The production filled the house both nights of its first running to a point of adding chairs along the sidelines. "Considering the space was weird, it was pretty successful," Shepherd said. The show was free for its first series, which may make some difference in its return, but with improved changes for this weekend's performance, and the brilliance of a large space like Hall, Showstoppers should have no trouble gaining a large audience.
"It's really fun, and we've had a lot of fun doing it," Shepherd said. "That's kind of the point of this production; to enjoy the shows and the music." Showstoppers: A Musical Revue runs tonight, Sat., May 24 and Sun., May 25 at 8 p.m. in Hall Auditorium. Tickets are $12.
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 25, May 23, 1997
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