Grasshopper: A Preview

“Don’t get too close. It’s dark inside. It’s where my demons hide,” sings Nathaniel Redding ’16, a member of The Yorkies, Andover’s all-male a capella group. With thick fog clouding the stage of Tang Theater around him, Redding will sing a solo during The Yorkies’ rendition of the hit song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons during Grasshopper Night, one of Family Weekend’s signature events. With four performances this year, over 100 students will showcase a variety of music, dance and theater talents at Grasshopper.

“Grasshopper is Andover’s biggest school-wide talent show of the year. It gives all different types of clubs, ensembles and small groups the opportunity to share their work. The advantage of having it on Family Weekend is that the performers not only get to share their work with their fellow peers but with their families as well. Plus it’s a great way for families to get an idea of the different performing-arts extracurriculars that Andover has to offer,” said Michaela Barczak ’15, Music Director for Grasshopper.

Because Grasshopper Night is so close to Halloween this year, the theme for the show is “Haunted.”

“I’m most excited about our theme this year. We got a great variety of acts who played with all different types of ‘Haunted,’ from the silly Halloween side to the darker side of nightmares and spirits. I think it really makes the show stand out from previous years,” said Barczak.

Providing transitions between acts and infusing the performance with humor, Teddy Lasry ’16 and Julian Otis ’16 serve as emcees for the show. Acting as “Ghosts of Andover Past,” they start the show walking down the aisles dressed in tattered black and white cloaks. They quickly remove the robes, hoping to transform into “21st-Century Ghosts.”

“The role of emcee demands much more devotion than I would have anticipated — once we received the roles, we were given only a few days to write, memorize and polish our skits,” said Lasry.

Sergio De Iudicibus ’16 and Angela Tang ’16 kick off the night, playing Camille Saint-Saëns’s “Danse Macabre” on the piano and the violin, respectively. Behind the duo, a video entitled “Midnight Dance” is projected. De Iudicibus and Tang’s playing coordinates with the movements in the spooky video, which depicts a clock striking midnight as dead bodies rise from their graves and swirl through the night.

“‘Danse Macabre’ can be loosely translated to ‘Death Dance.’ Although it is of a very somber character, it is not devoid of beautifully romantic and memorable melodies,” said De Iudicibus in an email to The Phillipian. “We chose to project ‘Midnight Dance’ in the background because it is a very applicable artistic representation of what the piece tries to convey. The piece is centered around death, so the artist chose skeletons as the video’s characters, but the piece is also very romantic, so the video recounts the story of a relationship between two skeletons.”

Hypnotiq, Andover’s hip-hop dance group, and SLAM, Andover’s step-dance troupe, collaborate for a routine entitled “Nightmare.” The performance begins with a teenage boy, played by Vincent Mocco ’15, going to sleep on a bed onstage. Once Mocco’s character is asleep, the dancers execute a series of stylized and exaggerated movements around him as he tosses and turns in his sleep, trapped in a nightmare by the dancers. The number features a medley of three songs: “A Nightmare on My Street” from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “I’m A Monster” by The Ranger$ and “The Joker” by Jheru Alba.

“I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie of SLAM and Hypnotiq. It’s wonderful that we have been able to come together for the purpose of this show and create a cohesive collaboration of dancers who dance two different styles,” said Alejandra Uria ’15, Co-Head of Hypnotiq.

Dressed in simple black dresses, Phoebe Gould ’15, Vienna Kuhn ’16 and Camille Price ’15 sing “Somebody’s Eyes” from the musical “Footloose.” The trio begins the number with black masks covering their eyes, but throws them off after the first chorus. Seho Young ’15 accompanies the girls on piano.

“‘Somebody’s Eyes’ essentially suggests that, no matter how private or inconspicuous you consider your life, there is always somebody out there that is watching you and deconstructing your actions,” said Price in an email to The Phillipian. “This idea of constant scrutinization is quite disturbing — we decided that a spooky take on this idea could fit quite well into the ‘Haunted’ theme.”

Blue Strut, Andover’s student-run jazz dance group, is performing a contemporary jazz dance to the Arctic Monkeys song “You’re So Dark.” At the beginning of the dance, a dimly-lit stage with a white background shows the silhouettes of the dancers performing their signature sultry head rolls, slow walks and hip movements. The lights come up as the motions quicken and the dancers execute multiple turns and high kicks while twisting their arms.

“‘You’re So Dark’ is about a pretty creepy girl. She hangs out in graveyards and reads H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe. It was an obvious fit for the theme,” said Olivia Berkey ’15, Co-Head of Blue Strut. “But more than that, [Marion Kudla ’15, the other Co-Head of Blue Strut,] and I saw the song as an opportunity to explore equally creepy movements and choreography to go hand in hand with the music.”

“The best part about the first run-through was seeing all the acts come together, and seeing all the hard work that all the groups have put into the show actually on stage with all the lights. I’m nervous for the nerves that will get to people on performance night. I can see people anticipating the show, and hopefully they will let loose for the actual performance,” said Vivian Liu ’15, Dance Director for Grasshopper Night.

While there were a few lighting and musical errors during the tech rehearsal last Wednesday, the Directors are confident that the performance will come together and that the students will put on four great shows this weekend.

“On [the] Friday [of] the performance, I don’t know if it is nerves or the energy of the audience, but when [we] get on that stage and know it’s for real, [everyone] always delivers. Being a performer myself, I know I do the same thing, so I am confident that [the other performers] will pull through,” said Elizabeth McGonagle ’16, Theatre Director for Grasshopper Night and member of Blue Strut.