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Tympanium Euphorium makes its mark through musical theater

Every semester, a poster goes up advertising for a production by the theater group Tympanium Euphorium, commonly known as Tymp. Tympanium Euphorium means ‘happy ear,’ because the group specializes in musicals, which certainly make for happy listening.

Officially recognized by the Student Union on Feb. 7, 2001, Tympanium is led by President Sarai Warsoff ’16. Although recognized nearly 15 years ago, Tympanium’s history goes farther back than that. Warsoff noted that one notable alum of the group is Mary Faber, who was in the original Broadway cast of “American Idiot.”

When describing what the group likes to focus on, Warsoff first discussed the group’s association with ensemble musicals. She explained, “We don’t do open cast musicals, but we do ensemble musicals that can range from small musicals like what we’re doing next semester, to larger shows like ‘Bat Boy’ and ‘Urinetown,’ which was done maybe six years ago.”

Next semester, Tympanium plans to put on “The Last Five Years,” which is a 2001 musical adapted to film this year starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. Somewhat uniquely, “The Last Five Years” is a two-person cast musical which is also a song cycle. Song cycles require a number of songs meant to be performed in a certain sequence. A recent musical performed at Brandeis that has elements of a song cycle was “Songs for a New World.” Both shows were composed by Jason Robert Brown.

Because of the movie version of “The Last Five Years,” the show’s popularity has risen. “It’s really beneficial for us to do these popular musicals that people want to see and be involved in,” said Warsoff.

This semester, Tympanium put on “Little Shop of Horrors,” which involved more than 35 actors and production staff. It also involved four carnivorous plant puppets, ranging from one the size of a potted fern, to one that’s bigger than a person. Tres Fimmano ’18, executive producer for Tympanium and director of “Little Shop” said, “We got a lot of positive feedback. We had a good time, and a lot of people involved had a good time. It’s hard not to enjoy puppets.”

When asked about the best show that Tympanium has put on, Fimmano responded that the shows he’s been a part of—“Spring Awakening,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “Little Shop of Horrors”—can’t really be compared. “They’re all different, they were all directed by talented people, they all had talented casts. All three were very popular on campus. Our role is just to keep that good momentum going.” Warsoff added that Tympanium is “really on the uphill.”

Upon consideration of Tympanium’s greatest strengths, Warsoff and Fimmano agreed that it’s the shows they choose to put on. “Not everyone loves musicals, but we try to pick really fun ones […] we’ve given a lot of opportunity for people to realize how much they love musicals and working for theater,” said Warsoff.

Unsurprisingly, the most difficult aspect of being a theater group is putting on the show itself. According to Warsoff, this past year was tight with the amount of funding that the Allocations Board was allowed to give out. “Little Shop of Horrors” had a zero-dollar budget for costuming, forcing the production staff and performers to “get very creative,” while also necessitating the process be even more collaborative. Fimmano went on to say, however, that “our goal is to make it worth it.”

Warsoff wants individuals to know how easy it is to get involved in theater, and that the most minimal amount of involvement involves signing up for the Tympanium listserv, which she described as being responsible for reading really funny emails. Fimmano said, “We really want to get new people involved with every show we do.”

“People don’t realize how much work goes into musicals, how many new faces we see and just how easy it is to become one of those faces,” Warsoff said.

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