Lyric Theatre shines on stage

By Sean Reis
Production Manager

Although the atmosphere on stage had been chaotic at times, the energy was electric. Filled with  the hustling of feet, harmonizing of vocals and accompanying piano, success was in the air as the cast stood atop large platforms with smartphones in-hand, while messages and photographs were projected on three screens overhead — the College’s Lyric Theatre was hard at work putting together the spring musical, “Company.”

For the first half of the spring semester, students practiced week after week and later rehearsed night after night, transforming Kendall Hall’s Main Stage into their own modernized version of the musical “Company,” based on the book by George Furth, featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Under the direction of Adjunct Professor of Music Jennifer Little, the students who enrolled for Lyric Theatre devoted more time into their already-overloaded schedules than ever before.

Excluding the final week leading up to the play’s two performances on Friday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, Feb. 27, Lyric Theatre committed three hours every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday night to practice.

“Although it was quite the time commitment, it was definitely rewarding,” said sophomore vocal education major Alex Medawar, who played Sarah.

Despite the time commitment, junior vocal education major Nicole Myers, who played Joanne, agreed that the hard work they dedicated to create the production was “worth it” because in the end, they showcased their creation.

“The production was for class, but never felt like it,” Myers said. “The rehearsals were so much fun because I felt productive while having fun with my friends at the same time.”

As an obligatory class for their major, the students of Lyric Theatre started “Company’s” production in the classroom during the fall semester, but they took what they learned to the stage this semester with practices that included cleaning nights, stumble-throughs and dress rehearsals.

During cleaning nights, like on Thursday, Feb. 11, Little and the cast worked to clean up specific moments because not everyone had theater experience and some scenes needed more practice than others to ensure their positioning and timing on stage was perfect.

The following night was one of the “Company” stumble-throughs, where Little and the cast looked at the overall arc of the play for any possible holes in the plot that they might have been able to fill with minor changes to the script.

The final week leading to the play’s two performances was entirely dedicated to dress rehearsals that gradually intensified.

“The earlier run-throughs were more talking about what we were going to do,” Medawar said. “As we got closer to opening night, we were definitely under more pressure to know our lines and pull everything together.”

As the pressure built during the week of opening night, the stumble-throughs suddenly became full dress rehearsals once other production aspects, such as lighting, costumes and the live orchestra, were introduced. The actors and actresses had been studying “Company” for weeks and the time had finally arrived for them to perfect their performances.

Sunday, Feb. 21, marked the first full dress rehearsal and by Tuesday, Feb. 23, with very few rehearsals remaining, Lyric Theatre practiced as if ready to perform the real deal. Although the actors were ready, Kendall Hall was not complete for “Company” quite yet.

Other aspects still needed to be prepared before the show was ready to run, like audio levels, lighting and makeup. Sound checks were run each night, but it was also vital that the lighting and makeup worked well together because if done incorrectly, the actors’ faces might have been seen as flat from the crowd’s perspective.

“Every small detail is important and we always need people working tech and making sets,” Myers said. “This show had a lot of tech stuff, too, so that’s why it was important to have people behind the scenes.”

Without the people behind the scenes, “Company” could not have been possible on opening night.

And when the time had finally arrived on Friday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, Feb. 27, the Lyric Theatre students, with help from the crew, created an amazing production of “Company” not only for their class, but also for the College.

“The cast put in long hours, both during rehearsal and over winter break. They were unafraid to take risks, shake things up and constantly challenge themselves to elevate their quality of the storytelling,” Little said. “This ensemble really showed in the final performance. I was incredibly proud of the work each and every cast member invested in ‘Company.’”

Although Lyric Theatre’s class will continue to meet once a week for the rest of the spring semester to create new scenes to perform, “Company” was their capstone project.

With classes, practices and music-related extracurriculars, those majoring within the Music Department agree that all of their work is worth it because it is not just a major — it is a passion.

“I bet there are people that really do love what they major in, but I absolutely know that I’ve met people within those majors that are only pursuing it for money or because their families want them to,” Myers said. “Music is something that you really have to commit to because you love it. You have to love doing what you do and for all the right reasons. That’s what makes the large time commitment worth it.”