Music Department performs classic Rodgers and Hammerstein songs

By Heather Fabritze

Student Life Editor

Members of the Washington College Department of Music stunned the campus with multi-day showings of their fall musical, “A Grand Night for Singing,” in Hotchkiss Recital Hall.

With shows starting at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5, the performance was a musical revue by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein. Cast members exclusively performed songs from their most famous musicals, including “The Sound of Music,” “Cinderella,” “Oklahoma!,” and more.

According to Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Ernest Green, who directed the show, the mismatched songs created a story that is entirely separate from their source material.

“The songs were reset and re-contextualized in some fun and surprising ways,” Green said. “What drew me to this show is the music. I love these songs in the original and just as much I love the way they are combined in this show.”

The performance featured eight students: freshmen Jai Basu and Brandon Edgerly; sophomores Asia Elliot and Maddi Mulder; juniors Lucy Jolliff and Kaitlyn McCaffery; and seniors Lexi Meola and Dylan Snow.

All of the performers were able to count the musical as a class for academic credit with practices every Monday and Wednesday.

Basu, who became involved in the production through the WC chorus, performed “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” from “South Pacific” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” from “Cinderella.”

According to Basu, while a few of the revue’s songs could be considered famous, most are “obscure.”

They said that they also encourage students to come to performances in the future as a chance to view their classmates in a different setting.

“Events like these are a really cool opportunity to hear your fellow students sing some really lovely songs,” Basu said. “Our cast is made up of some really talented vocalists, and it’s a cool way to see your friends in a completely new light. You get the feeling of, ‘Oh, I didn’t know they could sing.’” 

Elliot, who performed “The Gentleman is a Dope” from “Allegro” and “It’s Me” from “Me and Juliet,” said that she feels similarly to Basu. Over the course of working on “A Grand Night for Singing,” she “fell in love” with the stage and the act of performing.

Elliot said that experiencing shows in-person creates a feeling that cannot be replicated.

“I feel like live music just brings people together in general,” Elliot said. “And when you have such a talented group of students like we do here, it makes it so much more enjoyable. And you feel like you’re not just being dragged to some poor performance, because everyone here tries their best to put on a great performance.”

According to Green, his favorite parts of the show were ones where the entire cast sung together, finding ways to reinvent the songs.

“This is a really wonderful cast so they make it very fun to experiment with the way they do the songs,” he said.

While “A Grand Night for Singing” is a smaller production, the Music Department has plans for another larger production in the spring. This upcoming show would be much more reminiscent of last spring’s musical, “Working.”

Elliot said that she hopes students who attend the performance will leave with a greater awareness of how they can get involved at WC.

 “Also, I just want to reach out to more of the people that want to do arts here but don’t even know that we have an arts department or a music department,” Elliot said. “I feel like you can tell, I love everyone that I’ve worked with all semester…I hope people realize how much fun it’s been when we’re on stage.”

Photo by Grace Hazlehurst

Photo Caption: Performers took breaks during the songs to exchange staged lines with one another.

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