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Off-Broadway, On Campus

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By Gina Olson

 

Since the nineteenth century, we have had Broadway musicals as part of our culture. Before 42nd street, New York City’s Theater District, became that, farmers lived on that land. In 1836, a pivotal invitation by Mayor Cornelius Van Wyck Lawrence stated that locals could “move up town and enjoy the pure, clean air.” He transformed that area into a Theater District, according to Spotlight On Broadway. One notable theater on 1681 Broadway, built in 1924 originally for films and vaudeville (perhaps from voix de ville, French for “Voice of the City”), is notable, Spotlight On Broadway suggests, because it is “one of the few theaters that has its entrance on Broadway.” In fact, the original Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Steamboat Willie”, was first shown in this theater the year of 1928.

Students had the opportunity to experience the rich culture of Broadway on campus. Singers from both the women’s Oriana Singers, the Roanoke College Choir, and soloists performed selections from famous Broadway tunes on March 28 in the Bast Gym. Cara Hubbard accompanied all performers on keyboard.

Kathryn Binney, MC and soprano, introduced each selection with a brief context and time period. This performance marked the choirs’ 4th annual concert of this kind.

The performance began with a solo, “Taylor the Latte Boy” from Starbucks, by soprano Tereasha Santos. The piece told of a romance between a woman and Taylor the Latte Boy who gave her not two, but an extra third shot in her latte. Santos altered her voice to mimic Taylor’s monotone “How are you?” charming the audience by her sudden vocal changes.

Also, towards the beginning of the program alto Caitlyn Wright sung “Mother Knows Best” from the 2010 film, Tangled. Not only did this piece showcase more modern music, but it also demonstrated the connection of singing and acting. Wright acted out her song, playing the all-knowing, yet lovable mother, even producing a handkerchief at one point to wipe away tears. Later in the program, joined by soprano Binney and tenor Logan Stugart for “I’ve Decided to Marry You” from A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, both Wright and Binney produced fans. Having a similar element of drama, the three played out a scene in which one woman (Wright) hides in a closet trying to figure out that another woman (Binney) is being proposed to by the man (Stugart) the woman in the closet loves.

While we frequently hear of books becoming movies, it isn’t uncommon for books to become musicals. “Some Things are Meant to Be” sung by sopranos Amaranth Weiss and Trevlyn Kennedy and “A Bit of Earth” sung by Sabrina McIntyre, came from Little Women and The Secret Garden respectively. These songs had the presentation of Broadway, but the essence of their literary origins.

Directed by Jeffrey Sandborg, the Oriana Singers and Roanoke College Choir presented medleys from two well-known musicals. The Oriana Singers sung from The Phantom of the Opera and the Roanoke College Choir sang a medley from Sweeney Todd. Both medleys demonstrated the impressive range of the choirs, and concluded with reprises of their opening songs.

Altogether, this performance showcased an incredible diversity of talent and range. The Roanoke College Choir will perform Carmina Burana on April 11th at 7:30 p.m. in Bast Gym, and students will have the opportunity to attend the Oriana Singers’ Spring Concert at Salem Baptist Church on April 19 at 3:00 p.m. (with Looking for an Echo as special guests). Admission will be free to the public for both events.