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24-Hour Musical shows there is more to performance than quality

24-Hour Musical shows there is more to performance than quality

By Adam Lamper

Section: Arts, Featured

September 9, 2016

As perhaps the most anticipated event for first-years, transfer students and returning students alike, Brandeis’ annual 24-Hour Musical remains one of the university’s most fun-filled performances for its 12th year running. As many students had predicted, although it was not revealed until 8 p.m. the day prior to the performance (hence 24-Hour Musical), this year’s theme was the pop sensation, modern-day “Grease” knockoff, “High School Musical.” Adapted from the movie of the same name, the play had a few key differences (albeit minor ones) from the version many of us know verse-for-verse. Even so, it still felt as if you were a kid again watching it for the first time, or rather that you were watching the actors perform it for the first time. Aside from the wave of nostalgia, however, this performance was unpolished—but then again is that not the point?

Likely designed as a means to introduce first-years to Brandeis’ theater culture, as they make up the majority of the cast, 24-Hour Musical introduces the idea that the quality of the final production always comes second to having a good time with a supportive community. Though the performance lacked seriousness and professionalism, as is expected given only one day to rehearse, the over 180 volunteers and actors that contributed to the project show that there’s more to performing than the audiences’ perception of its quality.

Unlike most forms of comedy (although the plays, as written, are not considered under this genre), the humor of the 24-Hour Musical lies not in the witty lines of the playwright, but rather in the faults of the actors, technical and stage-related issues and other unforeseen problems that arise. Though not everyone’s type of humor, it is painfully clear that more people express interest in the event than there is room. Due to the limited seating within the SCC Theater and the inadequate accommodations provided in the atrium, this problem remains evident each and every year. As of this performance, it is still necessary to arrive at the ticketline between 45 minutes to an hour before they go on sale to secure a seat within the theater itself, and another 45 minutes before the house opens just to get a seat that is not on the floor or stairs of the theater. The accommodations for those who did not receive tickets are in for an even worse fate, as there is only enough seating for a small classroom’s worth of people, there is poor audio, and to top it all off the screen is no larger than a typical flag. If a wider reach for the program is wanted, it is imperative that these accommodation issues are addressed in future productions.

Though usually focused on poor acting performances, there were a few surprises in the halfway-decent turnout of many aspects of the play, most notably the coordinated choreography of Rachael Schindler ’19 and Keturah Walker ’18. From a musical perspective, one star, playing the role of everyone’s favorite mathlete Gabriella Montez, managed to steal the show with her enchanting vocals and unexpected professionalism. Karina Wen ’20 wowed the audience not just intermittently with each song as Gabriella, but continued to portray the character in a manner more consistent with weeks of rehearsal. In terms of acting, there were two actors other than Wen who truly imbued the spirit of their character, likely because of the over-emotive personalities of their characters in the movie. Caroline Kriesen ’20 (Sharpay) and Julia Brown ’19 (Ms. Darbus) most definitely stole the show with their over-the-top, exciting and hilarious stage presence.

All in all the performance, despite its inconveniences, was amazing for those who actually got tickets, and presumably exponentially more fun to those who actually got to perform in the play. This couldn’t have been possible without president and producer, Gabby Lamm ’17, whose welcoming introduction highlighted all the effort that went into this production, and whose own efforts made this performance possible. Though it will be taken over by a successor next year, it is still certain that 2017’s performance will contain just as many laughs and will be the best way to kick off the 2016/17 theater season right.

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