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24-Hour Musical celebrates its 10th anniversary with ‘Grease’

By Michelle Kim

Section: Arts, Featured

September 12, 2014

Last Sunday, Sept. 7, marked the 10th anniversary of the 24-Hour Musical at Brandeis. Co-sponsored by Hillel Theatre Group and Tympanium Euphorium, this year’s production was of the beloved 1971 musical “Grease.” As tradition goes, the rehearsals, costume making and set building were completed in one day. Students began waiting for tickets more than three hours before production staff members were selling them and those who were fortunate enough to get a ticket had to wait outside the SCC theater in a line that filled the entire SCC atrium.

Merric Kaufman ’15, president and stage manager of this year’s show, began the night with a heartfelt and sweet introduction to the 10th anniversary show. According to Kaufman, over 135 students made up the cast; for seven of the leads, “Grease” was their first ever 24-Hour Musical. An impressive total of five first-year students were also cast as leads. There were 22 production staff members, all of whom looked extremely exhausted but happy.

The show started with all of the cast members singing and dancing in sync, which was a pretty impressive feat considering that there were over a hundred students on one stage. As usual, the musical had randomly placed comedic moments, such as when two students dressed in Pokémon costumes ran across the stage.

Costumes were in much better shape this year than in previous years; students wore clothes that did not look like they had been hastily assembled, and costumes more or less matched.

Gabi Nail ’18 starred as Sandy and wowed audience members with her sweet voice. Although her acting skills were not as impressive as her voice, she still charmed audience members with her naive personality and, later in the show, sass. Starring beside her was Jason Theoharis ’17, who played Danny.

It was clear that older members of the supporting cast were old pros at rehearsing and learning a musical within 24 hours. Nicole Wittels ’15 and David Getz ’15 were great as on-off couple Rizzo and Kenickie. Getz utilized his improv experience, and Wittels charmed everyone with her blunt attitude and jazzy voice in “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.” Wittels and Getz had extremely well-performed stage chemistry, easily placing them amongst the show’s top characters.

Isidora Filipovic ’18 played a husky-voiced Marty and was able to be flirty yet serious throughout the show. Audience members were extremely impressed by her performance in “Freddy, My Love.” Jamie Semel ’17 portrayed the ever-hungry Jan while Jessie Eichinger ’17 excelled as beauty school dropout Frenchie. The Pink Ladies were definitely crowd favorites; they were charismatic, raunchy, sarcastic and genuinely seemed like good friends.

In addition to Getz and Theoharis, Zain Walker ’18, Jose Castellanos ’18 and Ben Steinberg ’18 played T-Birds Doody, Roger and Sonny respectively. Castellanos in particular was very funny during his performance of “Mooning,” in which he professes his crush on Jan and (pretends to) moon the audience.

While this year’s 24-Hour Musical featured fewer Jewish references than last year, there were enough to make the audience members laugh. In “Summer Loving,” for example, Danny is asked, “Is she of the Jewish religion?”

Because the musical was produced in 24 hours, there were plenty of rough moments, but actors were able to tough it out through improv or simply laughing it off, which in turn resulted in the audience enjoying the show even more.

The second half of the musical dragged on a little more than the first half. Performances such as “You’re the One That I Want” and “We Go Together” were awkward, albeit cute. Nevertheless, the Brandeis community was extremely impressed by “Grease,” and it was evident that there is a lot of love and friendship within the cast and the production crew. The audience was on their feet, cheering and whistling at the end of the show, as the cast and production crew proudly said their goodbyes.

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