White Room’s [title of show]: a meta exploration of success, sexuality

“Is that guy wearing bowling shoes?” some thought to themselves, as first-year Drew Belsinger and junior Matt Pindell talked on stage (the floor of Monty 25) before the beginning of [title of show].

For those who did not know what to expect from the performance, thinking it was only a low-budget production and something to do for free, an impressive surprise awaited for them when the show began at 8 p.m. that night.

Belsinger and Pindell started on stage for an untitled opening of their own (conveniently titled “Untitled Opening Number”), but they were soon joined by juniors Maria Tolbert and Jess O’Rear for incredible combination of personalities on stage amidst four chairs and a keyboard.

[title of show] takes place in [time] in downtown [place], where friends Jeff (Belsinger), Hunter (Pindell), Susan (Tolbert), and Heidi (O’Rear) work on what they hope will become a Broadway musical while balancing day jobs and personal lives.

Hunter, a writer by passion, and Jeff, a composer at heart, meet together to work on a musical, soon accompanied by aspiring actresses Susan and Heidi. The performance title itself, [title of show], implies that there will be some metacognitive element to the show.

This is shown when Jeff and Hunter make fun of scene changes while moving their chairs around the room to show them visiting each other in the beginning of the play.

However, this is taken an entire step further with the plot itself: the musical that the four begin to work on is based entirely on what they are doing in the room at every moment.

The dialogue that ensues highlights this point:

What if we wrote a show on what’s going on right now?

Right now?

Right now.

What we’re saying?

Exactly.

Even this?

Even this.

As Susan and Heidi speak during the performance, Hunter writes down everything for the script, given the name [title of show] when the cast needs to fill in a title under the entry [title of show] on an application form for a competition to which the cast is sending their script.

The performers also openly accept that they are in the middle of a scene, and comment when they should change scenes and that they know that everything they say will be in the scene (or rather, is in the scene). In referring to the script, Hunter says at one point, “it’s saved up to our line, it’s saved up to our line,” emphasizing this point.

The play itself brings several important elements to light about theater and even the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community.

Hunter and Jeff are openly comfortable with their sexuality throughout the play, which adds comedy to the performance but still highlights how one shouldn’t be afraid of their sexual identity or worry about how others will view it in stage.

Tolbert, in her hit song “Die Vampire, Die,” also highlights the important elements of theater, and how one’s fears (or vampires) should not stop the pursuit of a dream.

After a ten-minute intermission, the story takes a slower pace, as the cast hits a slump after [ToS] is quiet for about ten months.

But, the play returns to its quick scene changes and plethora of songs once the script gains more potential in the eyes of producers.

In the end, the play itself is left open for the viewer to decide how well the show will go on Broadway.

With the audience’s applause at the end of the performance, it seems as if the show within [title of show], and [title of show] itself, will fare extremely well.

[title of show] received many positive views from the audience attending that night.

“I thought the song ‘Die Vampire, Die’ was amazing for anyone who does…any kind of creative work,” said Julia Bates, Education Facilitator of the College’s Department of Educational Studies.

“The gay theme was unashamed and normalized.”

“It’s very meta,” said Amanda DeLand, a senior English major who attended the show.

“I like that they make comments that test our suspicion and disbelief…and I really liked the ‘Die Vampire, Die’ part.”

Director Jonathan Wagner wanted to “bring a show about how to succeed in something,” and loved the music of the show.

After being able to talk to Susan Blackwell, Susan in the original Broadway performance of [title of show], off stage, he learned from her that the show was about “helping yourself,” and never giving up a passion.

[title of show] was performed on Broadway in 2008 (with music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen) and nominated for a Tony Award Best Book for a Musical in 2009 (written by Hunter Bell).

 

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