With a large boom of the bass drums, Sam Katz ’19 staggers away from Gwen Empie ’21, who towers over him with her cymbals in hand. Every bass vibration and clap of the cymbals push Katz further to the side of the stage as Empie walks menacingly towards him, respectively representing the “good” and “evil” of Drumline. The two duel throughout the performance as the drums play.
“The most fun part… was a lot of the playing with the cymbals, honestly… The whole concept of it was a battle, but our cymbalists are very enthusiastic this year, so we tried to make it as physical as possible. They’re not shy at all, so they [have] a lot of interaction,” said Drumline co-head Rachna Lewis ’19.
The show begins with Emily Huang ’21 performing a rendition of Claude Debussy’s “La Danse de Puck.” The piece’s light, fluttering rhythms, and chords reflect the trickster character Puck from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“Once I found this piece, it was really just trying to get the feel of it because it’s a hard song to play right. You can play the notes, but it’s hard to get the mischievous, evil blend. [I’ve been] practicing over and over again to get the right emotions… I’ve performed in a lot of shows at my old school, so I wanted to get more involved in performing at Andover. Even being able [to experience] being in Grasshopper is a big deal,” said Huang.
Against a bright red backdrop, Blue Strut dances to “Cell Block Tango” from the musical “Chicago.” The performance features a large grey jail cell made of wood and PVC pipe. The dancers twirl around the bars, occasionally reaching out to the audience from their places “trapped” in the jail cell.
“My dad made us a jail cell out of wood and PVC pipe, so that was a bit of a process getting together. I think another challenge was that Strut is used to doing more technical routines, and this is a very musical theater-y performance. There’s a lot of acting and not as much dancing, so that was a bit of a challenge, too,” said Emerson Judson ’20, Co-Head of Blue Strut.
Using red and rainbow poi lights, Photon lights up the stage with glowing halos in their creative approach to this year’s theme. Poi, also known as light-stringing, involves a plastic bulb of light attached to the end of a string. Performers typically fling around two strings rhythmically to form patterns in the air.
“We’re doing a glow-in-the-dark or object-manipulation performance to our own original remix of a few songs that we found that really suited the ‘Good-versus-Evil’ theme. We strictly deal in E.D.M. music because it’s a tradition of glow-stringing. You see [glow-stringing] in a lot of raves or clubs, and that’s usually where house or E.D.M. music is playing, so we do mostly that,” said Michelle Zhao ’19, a Co-Head of Photon.
Azure’s mashup of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and “Isn’t She Lovely” follows Photon’s performance. As the group steps onstage, their high heels casting a sharp silhouette on the red backdrop, the group begins singing a slow, muted beat and melody for their rendition of “Superstition.” As their performance progresses, the red backdrop slowly morphs into blue, and the group jumps into an upbeat harmony with “Isn’t She Lovely.”
“I think in choosing Stevie Wonder, we were really trying to cater more towards families and, obviously, a lot of the parents are going to be familiar with a Stevie Wonder song. I think when the kids’ parents are singing along to the song and are excited… and maybe even played their songs for their children, I think it’s definitely more inclusive than performing a more modern song that only the students would know,” said Alexa Leach ’19, Co-Head of Azure.
All of the performers have attended hours of tech rehearsals along with the Producers, who constantly offer feedback for the performers to perfect the show.
“We [as Producers] have a more complete view of the show. In some ways, it may be kind of cynical because, as much as I love the rehearsals, I have to look at them through more of a critical lens, of what is wrong with this act rather than what is awesome about this act,” said Katz, a Produce, as well as a member of Drumline.
According to Producer and stage manager Carley Kukk ’19, Grasshopper is an opportunity for students to collaborate, either by showcasing their many talents or by supporting their friends performing onstage.
Kukk said, “My favorite part is watching how talented everyone is because it’s really crazy to have this many people who all have something so cool to bring to the table. And then it’s so cool that we get to showcase this to the parents themselves. I also love how people love Grasshopper; the lines are always so long and the tickets always sell out. I think that that’s really great, because we’re all here to support each other.”