Grasshopper Night Bounds to Success

“Facebook game!” screamed lavender boa- and periwinkle nightgown-clad School President Daniel Adler ’05 in unison with JeanMarie Gossard ’05, dressed as a Nathan Hale frosh. These two Masters of Ceremonies made good on Adler’s promise to “bring the funny” this past Parents Weekend, leading one of the most entertaining, diverse, and cohesive Grasshopper Nights in recent memory. “In all my four years at PA, that was the best Grasshopper Night ever. It was awesome.” said Marcella Viktorin ’05. The show was fun, happy, and light-hearted, yet still serious in obvious hard work that went into creating the top quality of the finished product. “We wanted a show that avoided lulls as much as possible; so we chose upbeat theatre acts; dance that got you moving; music acts that sucked you in – we tried to take the liveliest things; [our key words were] energy, energy, energy!” said student theater producer Caroline Claflin ’05. The talent showcased was not only spectacular, but also wide-ranging. “We wanted a true variety show; last year there were a lot of bands that all sounded the same; this year… we achieved more variety… between different types of acts, and also within genres – there was still a lot of music, but each had a distinctly different sound,” said student theater producer Abby Seldin ’05. Linking everything together were Emcees Adler and Gossard, whose side-splitting sketches were acts in themselves; while their humble, straightforward introductions– “up next we have…” – didn’t overshadow the acts, but rather laid out clean canvases on which their cast mates could paint. The image of JeanMarie dressed as Head of School Barbara Landis Chase, instructing the audience on how to cross Main Street, then getting run over by Franklin Davison ’05 on a run-away bicycle, will forever live in infamy as one of the most hilarious moments of many students’ PA careers. “I wasn’t too nervous about the Ms. Chase thing. She has a good sense of humor,” said Adler. Gossard added, “On Saturday she came up to me after my game and I was so scared… she said, ‘If you’re going to do me, you need to do it right’ and she sent me a different scarf for that night! She was very cool about it.” Said Claflin, “JeanMarie has such good comedic execution; Adler is really creative; I was so impressed with both of them and they were a lot of fun to have in rehearsal…they were the perfect, unlikely pair of goofballs.” The Muffaletta Five opened up the night with the comical Grasshopper-like antics of Jon Weigel ’05, as he jumped across the stage on a mini trampoline while singing Phish’s “Down With Disease.” Said Weigel, “we chose a song that was upbeat, fast, had loads of energy… we wanted to get the audience ready for a show.” In an unplanned tribute to the recent World Series victors, Kendra Allenby ’05 and Caroline Claflin ’05 stormed onstage, clad in Red Sox t-shirts, to deliver the classic Abbot and Costello sketch, “Who’s on First?” A challenging skit, based on the confusion between Abbott and Costello over the identities of players on a baseball team – “Who” on first base, “What” on second, and “I don’t know” was on third – the two delivered their fast paced lines flawlessly, in an impressive feat of memorization. Andover’s Hip Hop group, Hypnotiq, showed the audience what “on point” really means. They utilized contrast to create a dance that brought down the house and solicited cat-calls galore from the enthusiatic audiences. Co-head Temi Devers ’05, the only male in the group, was magnetic as he fluttered across the stage in a large billowing white t-shirt, opposite to his black-clad female dance-mates. Julie Min ’05 took the audience in one of the stand-out performances of the night, singing an original funk tune called “Make It.” From start to finish all eyes were on Min, as her deep and powerful, yet clear voice touched the backs of eardrums and she spun sexily across the stage in skin-tight blue jeans and black lace. Upper Catherine Castillo’s self-choreographed dance to “Diary,” by Alicia Keys, was one of the most mellow and graceful acts of the night. Feminine, smooth, and sexy in a much softer way than Min, Castillo’s ballet training was evident as she floated across the stage, rolled a top hat down her arms, and did the splits. Performance from the musical “Rent” of “Take Me or Leave Me” = controversial; used space in a new, interesting way – sung in the aisles of the stage with only a quiet piano player on downstage left corner.*** The Three Buccaneer (Alex Malozemoff ’05, Ben Lasman ’06, and Nate Greenberg ’05) commandeered the audience with their awe-inspiring talent, in a performance that was entertaining both visually and musically. The act began with the Buccaneer’s wonderful silhouettes against a green background, and progressed to reveal them in great pirate costumes– bandannas, skulls and crossbones, and Lasman in lime green shirt and shoes. Malozemoff took swigs out of a brown bottle, Greenberg made swishing water noises, and Lasman sang the lead with a perfect, pure pirate voice (use your imagination). The witty lyrics of their hilarious original “Land Ho, Mateys!” was a catchy tune made better with a good dose of “arghs!” and the delightful trills of Malozemoff’s flute. SLAM, an old Grasshopper Night favorite, once again achieved their high standard of never-missing-a-beat. They added in some new flavor with an energy-pumping “Area 51” entrance, stomping in to only the red flashing lights seen on ambulance roofs, and stepped to music in a fashion not used before last year. The Yorkies, Andover’s all-male a cappella group, took to the stage in one of their best performances to date; armed in white collared shirts with rolled sleeves, black pants, and white shoes, the boys attempted the ambitious selection of “Billie Jean,” arranged by Yorkies co-president Andy St. Louis ’05. With such a well-known song, the Yorkies pitted themselves against audience expectations of what Billie Jean is “supposed to sound like,” as well as to compete with Michael Jackson’s voice, rhythm, speed, and pitch. They did an admirable job. While faster and lower in parts than the original, they created a great sound, doubly impressive because it was a cappella. Their visually-inventive choreography was the best part of the piece, as they fanned out from a single file into a “V” with melody of the song. A Monty Python “Argument Sketch,” performed by “Henceforth Unnamed,” a Class of 2007 quartet, was a refreshing, unexpected, and well executed turn in the program. The four’s quick, well-rehearsed dialogue, in hilarious slapstick Monty Python style, was wonderful. They had spot-on British accents and costumes, including a tweed cap and jaunty silver Family-Feud-esque suit. Their great, active body movements only added to the performance. Angskt’s original composition, “Riptide” stood out as the first act to really fill the room. Their performance could have been on a professional stage; the strobe lights, fog machine, eerie lighting, costumes (all in hooded sweatshirts pulled tight on their heads), Senior Pete Mistretta’s awesome guitar solo, and the band’s cohesive feel all provided the base for a great song. Indeed, the group has been together since last fall, and recorded a twelve song album, “Katholikon,” in Graves last spring. With acoustic guitars and beautiful voices, Sarah Chang ’05 and Christa Vardaro ’06 settled into the spotlights on an otherwise dark stage, to perform Chang’s “Dancing in Fire,” an act reminiscent of the “Girls with Guitars” of Grasshopper two years ago. The song conveyed the feeling of youth, of enjoying life, and looked as fun to play as it was to hear, as Chang and Vardaro created great harmony. In the Grand Finale of the night, Jeff Cutts ’06 tickled the ivories as he accompanied himself on The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” in an act characteristic of what has become his niche on campus. His skills as a “Piano Man” are undisputed and his stage prescence really helps him pull off whatever song he is performing. Playing in a spotlight at the front corner of the stage, his pure voice held the audience until the curtain rose to reveal the Muffaletta Five backing him up. This injection of energy was exactly what the song needed to go from good to exceptional. By the time the entire cast danced onstage in a mellow but feel-good end to an amazing night, the whole audience echoed Cutts’s lyrics: “na-na-na-na-naaaaah.” In addition to the spectacular acts performing on the stage, what happened backstage was important and equally impressive. The technical aspects of the show, from the inventive lighting to the smooth transitions between performances, were remarkable. Said Claflin, “The tech guys, Steve [Farquhar ’07] and Anand [Swaminathan ’05] did a fantastic job; it’s really hard to put together a show so dynamic that switches from theater to music to dance.” Grasshopper Night 2004 was an unforgettable event for all in attendance. Whereas in recent years, there have been one or two standout acts (Stowe House Band, Lucy Keating, SLAM), this year’s show featured a slam-dunk lineup of acts, from which one would be hard-pressed to pick a single favorite. Besides being a source of entertainment for students, faculty, and parents, it also serves as a fundraiser for the Department of Theatre and Dance. This year’s donations will go towards scholarship money for this summer’s Theatre 520 trip to South Africa, where the Spring 520, Things Fall Apart, will perform as part of the Fringe Festival there. Student theatre producer Chris Zegel ’05 remarked, “Usually, people will give five or ten dollars. This year, people were dropping twetnies all over the place!” If donations are any indication of the show’s success, then it was a home run. Donations exceeded the $6000 mark, making Grasshopper Night 2004 one of the most successful shows in its history.