November 17, 2017 • Communications
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Continuing the tradition of the fall musical revue, Manhattanville College’s Music Department and the Department of Dance and Theatre presented Showtune, a musical revue based on the work of composer and lyricist Jerry Herman on Thursday, November 2; Friday, November 3; and Saturday, November 4 in the Little Theatre in Manhattanville’s Brownson Hall. His most famous shows include Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles. With Hello, Dolly! currently running on Broadway, director Mark Cherry felt that there was no better time to showcase Herman’s talents. “Although these songs are all very familiar to me, I discovered that many students in the cast were hearing them for the first time as they were learning the score, so I think it’s important that we’re introducing Jerry Herman’s work to a new generation,” said Cherry.
The original production, conceived by Paul Gilger, included six cast members, had little dialogue, and was written in extended musical passages with one song flowing into the next. The College’s production honors that style, while showcasing a cast of 16 students. Cherry explained that this cast is the largest that he has worked with for a single revue. While the larger cast did create difficulties in staging, scheduling, and planning, the size gave an “excellent ensemble performance experience, opportunity, and sound.”
The songs varied from solos and duets, to small-ensemble and full-cast numbers. While each song may not feature the entire cast, the performers stayed onstage and engaged in one another’s performances. The set design was minimal, with a few stools, minimal props, and some elements of Ken Rothchild’s set from the fall performance of A Doll’s House. In addition, the actors wore their own clothes for the performance, which allowed them to form a bond with the audience.
Despite not following the strict format of a book musical, the show retained the fast-paced, fun, and optimistic feeling that much of Herman’s work usually does. From the beginning of the show, the cast is engaged with one another and the audience. With a balance between Herman’s work and each performer’s style, the show presented a classic revue in a fresh and exciting way.
“If you’re already a Jerry Herman fan, you will love it. If you’re not already a Jerry Herman fan, you just might become one,” said Cherry.
Written by: Katherine Matuszek ’19