Revue Brings Best of Broadway

The lights come down, and an air of anticipation falls over the full house in Kemper Auditorium. From the darkness emerges the lonely sound of a solitary drum, tapping, “dah, dah, dah, dah.” Lights appear over the stage to reveal an ensemble of disgruntled jailhouse women and their male companions. The six in the middle step forward one by one: “Pop…Six…Squish…Uh, uh…Cicero…Lipschitz.” The pace quickens gradually the trumpet, piano, violin, and bass, and finally the singers join in. Last year’s Broadway Revue opened up with a bang, literally, as the six lovely ladies of the Cook County Jail described the history of their terrible love lives in Cell Block Tango from the musical Chicago. The rest of the show included songs from old and new favorite musicals, such as Secret Garden, Guys and Dolls, Aida, Rent, and Into the Woods. After hours of grueling rehearsals, seeing the final product come together was very exciting for the cast, the instrumentalists, and especially for me and my co-director, Michelle Easton ’04. The Broadway Revue is an ever-evolving show, and therefore hard to describe. It is a mixture of well-known and obscure musical theater songs. Every year, the directors choose certain songs for the show, but leave slots open for independently prepared solo and ensemble acts, thus maintaining the spirit that the show represents the interests of the Andover community at large. The Revue, has been around for only two years. However, the first concept for such a show originated three years ago with sisters Megan Whitehead ’02 and Ashley Whitehead ’04. There was no steady outlet for students to participate in musical theater at the school, only intermittent shows with small casts such as Cabaret. So, they directed a small Broadway Revue show in Kemper with predominantly solo acts and piano accompaniment. In a similar vein, Michelle and I directed a larger show in Kemper the following year, complete with ensembles, solos, costumes, and full instrumentation. However, that was not enough for us. There are just too many wonderful songs out there just waiting to be presented on the school’s stage in front of an audience. So, we decided to direct a follow-up show this year, and hopefully establish the Revue as an annual event at the school. We are now in the midst of bringing together this year’s show. One of the first steps was finding our cast; two weeks ago, over 70 students auditioned for a place in the cast. We ended up with a cast of around 40, a large number by any standard. On the other hand, it allows many students with minimal theater experience to have their chance on stage. Several cast members auditioned with, and received, their own solo acts, including Jenny Drucker ’05 with “Honey Bun” from South Pacific, Andy St. Louis ’05 with “If I Can’t Love Her” from Beauty and the Beast, and Jeff Cutts ’06 with “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. Our well-publicized list of director-chosen songs includes “America” from West Side Story, “My Strongest Suit” from Aida, “All That Jazz” from Chicago, and “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” from Bye Bye Birdie. We have approximately five weeks to bring together 16 acts. It is a daunting task, to say the least, especially considering the amount of people that have to rearrange their hectic schedules in order to rehearse. However, it is an achievable goal, and PA students, faculty, and staff can look forward to an entertaining show that will make you want to sing and dance for weeks to come.