It takes a particular amount of audacity to be part of any performance when there is limited time to prepare, and a whole other realm of boldness to perform a musical in 24 hours. When the limits of the human spirit are tested, the fact that any person would want to be part of the performance and production staff is admirable, even a little unbelievable. And not only do students come in droves to join the cast and crew of 24-Hour, but the theater fills up so quickly, and the demand to see the show increases yearly.
On Sunday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. in the SCC theater, Brandeis University’s 11th annual 24-Hour Musical, “Peter Pan,” was performed under the direction of Zach Marlin ’16, Caley Chase ’16 and Zoë Golub-Sass ’16. With a total cast of over a hundred students, the performance required a great amount of organization, especially given the large scale of the musical. Needless to say, the SCC theater was filled to capacity and available seating outside the theater only minimally helped accommodate for the show’s high demand. All the hype was met accordingly with an all-around memorable performance.
It was a whirlwind of excitement from beginning to end. The 24-Hour Musical is a whole other kind of performance, not intended to be squeaky clean and perfect with dead-on transitions, in sync choreography or even memorized lines. And that’s the beauty of it. The actors had the right attitude about their performance, often smiling when they forgot words to parts of the songs or laughing when the background actors forgot a transition. The performance was part musical part comedy, and therefore fulfilled the audience’s thirst for a more layered show.
The show was more than animated and pulled off particularly difficult special effects like the crocodile chase and Peter Pan’s shadow using puppets and a person clothed in all black. Captain Hook’s most dreaded foe, the crocodile, made its appearance with the aid of two actors who literally crawled on and off stage together. Peter Pan’s shadow, on the other hand, played by Danielle Frankel ’17, was another entertaining aspect of the show, literally replicating Pan’s every move as close as was physically possible. Also, the magical flying scenes were achieved with the help of another “stunt” actor who carried the leads off stage. The simplicity of these so-called “special effects” only added to the comic relief embedded throughout the show.
From the moment the curtain opened there was a sense of camaraderie and contentment among the cast members. In the opening scene, Wendy and John danced together in their family home, both of whom awkwardly held onto each other, unsure of who was leading and when to stop. It was in those first few moments that both actors couldn’t suppress their candid laughter. That entrance set the stage for the rest of the performance. Katie Reinhold ’19, who played Peter Pan, spoke positively of her experience with the cast, noting, “Every single cast member I got a chance to talk to was ridiculously happy to be there, even when they were still working away at 2:30 a.m. Everyone just wanted to have a good time, so working with other cast members helped reduce the stress I was feeling.”
The lead performances were also quite masterful, especially given the time restraints. Anna Stern ’18, who played Tinkerbell, clad in a short green dress, slippers with puffs at the end and a necklace of glowing lights, literally became the character in every way. As if the character had been peeled from the illustrations inside a children’s book, Stern’s portrayal of the timeless fairy showed a mastery of her child-like demeanor, body language and Tink’s distinct sound effect, which is kind of like an animated buzzing.
Captain Hook, performed by Ray Trott ’16, showcased an outstandingly well-polished and all-around impressive rendition of the character. The comic relief that pervaded his scenes was not due to mistakes in his performance, but was the result of the explicit sexual tension between his character and Smee, Zev Kupfer, his right hand man. In multiple scenes, Smee either grinded his pelvis against the oblivious captain or attempted to save the emotionally distressed Hook, whose fear of the crocodile overwhelmed any and all rational thought.
Ironically, he had this to say about his performance: “In 24 hours, there really isn’t much time to delve into a character. After a few delirious hours, I found myself naturally playing Hook as a kind of pretentious and heinous guy. It felt kind of like a weird mix of Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbossa and Richard III from Shakespeare. If I had more time, I’d have liked to explore Hook’s lighter, more comical side. But then again, sauntering about and scheming diabolically was too, too satisfying!”
No matter the person or their contribution to the performance, from leading roles to techies to production staff, there’s always an incredible amount of dedication put into the show and satisfaction having completed it among the cast and crew. Emily Bisno ’19, who played the lead role Wendy, discussed her involvement in the show. “I’ve always loved theater and want to study theater at Brandeis so participating in 24-Hour was not only an incredible introduction to the department but I also met a lot of upperclassmen in the department … We all had an amazing time getting to know each other and performing together!”