Hey ya’ll! I’m Vicki: class of 2019, decidedly undecided concentration-wise (but it’s between music, neuroscience, and economics), and your blogger for the Music to My Ears column. I’ll be writing all about Brown’s diverse and bustling music scene each week, so stay tuned!
Music is an incredibly flexible art form. It’s constantly blended with other genres to create hybrid fields. Case in point, musical theatre is a genre of theatre that, according to trusty Wikipedia, “combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole.”
Luckily, Brown has a thriving musical theatre community here on campus, which means there are tons of shows with great music to listen to! For this week’s column, I hit up my friend, Devon, for an inside scoop on the musical theatre scene here at Brown.
Me (V): Give us a little backstory on your experience in musical theatre before Brown.
Devon: I mean, I’ve been doing theatre and musical theatre – I didn’t really distinguish between the two for a while. I think I started doing children’s theatre in 5th grade – I was really bad [laughs] but I was hooked. Hopefully I got better at some point, but I’ve been doing it more or less consistently – couple shows every year since 5th grade.
V: So why didn’t you distinguish between the two?
D: Because, I mean, the goal is still to tell a story. It’s still about communication depicting a story, but in one of them, you sing and you dance. That’s another way to do that.
V: So what draws you to musical theatre, and what made you keep doing it when you came here?
D: I mean, I like singing, and I like acting, uh…I’m not that good at dancing [laughs]. But I like music, and I like theatre, and it’s just something that’s been very rewarding to me because it’s a skill set that I’ve worked on and I have a lot of fun using.
V: What have you done here with musical theatre here at Brown already?
D: Well, I was in Urinetown, which just ran.
V: So tell us about Urinetown, then.
D: It was wonderful – wonderful show, wonderful people, wonderful experience. It was a lot of fun – it’s very cool because at Brown you can get – there’s so many talented people who are talented at everything, and it was very cool to be a part of that experience with everyone coming together to make a really high level show.
V: How so?
D: Just the technical execution, like everything – the lights, the set – was very high level. So was the music, I felt. I think that it was a very impressive show – and it’s very demanding show, too, vocally – the music is not super easy. It’s not a simple show, and everything was done very well.
V: So how was the training and the process?
D: The process of rehearsal is pretty demanding. It’s not atypical. There were 4 hours of rehearsal, 6 days a week, for about 6 weeks or so, which is a lot of time, but it’s comparable to the amount of time in which you would rehearse for a professional production, just spread out over a longer period of time. It was a completely student-run production.
V: So what’s musical forum?
D: It’s an organization that produces the show. Musical forum does one student-run musical theatre production every semester.
V: How would you describe the musical theatre community here?
D: The musical theatre community as a whole – I mean, I don’t know everyone yet. It’s very supportive; people come out to see shows. It’s a lot of fun to do a production, and like I said, it’s a high level production. It’s generally very good and people are very supportive. I mean, our shows sold out, for Urinetown. We ran five nights and there were about one-hundred seats, so that’s five-hundred people who went to see the show.
V: How has musical theatre shaped your experience so far at Brown?
D: Well, it eats your life [laughs]. Or it is your life. It can be as big a time commitment as you want it to be. I met a lot of people through Urinetown. The thing about Brown is that you see different sides of people that you didn’t know. You know, that one person in your comparative literature class could be a really good singer. You wouldn’t know that until you’ve been on a show.
V: What would you tell prospective students about musical theatre at Brown?
D: I would say that it’s very different from high school in that there are always several shows going on at once, all worth doing. I mean, I haven’t seen a bad show here. It’s very present, and it’s a fairly important part of what’s going on.
V: What’s your favorite thing about musical theatre?
D: That’s a hard question. I think the best thing about musical theatre is that you get these huge, explosive show-stopper numbers, and when you pull them off right, and hopefully that’s in front of an audience, it’s pretty great.
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