One Last Show For CMTS’s Seniors

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The CMTS Senior Showcase cast stands in a line in front of the audience, singing a song from Spring Awakening in front of a brick wall.
The CMTS Senior Showcase cast stands in a line in front of the audience, singing a song from Spring Awakening in front of a brick wall.

“The weirdest shit is still to come”

Senior Staffer and Sports Editor, Ross Chapman reviewed the last performance by CMTS’s seniors. 

On Friday night, musicians and actors from the Class of 2017 gathered in front of a friendly audience in the Glicker-Milstein Theatre for one final performance at Columbia. Far from the theatrical formality of the usual CMTS show, the atmosphere Senior Showcase was one of low stakes and celebration. Eleven seniors, all of whom have participated in musical theater on campus and some of whom have come to define it, performed 17 compartmentalized numbers from their favorite shows. While the show ostensibly had no theme, it was clear that the seniors were singing and acting in reflection theatrical pasts and with anxious optimism for whatever may come next.

The show began with a company performance of “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?” the opening number to Avenue Q which introduces a protagonist exiting college and entering the “real world.” The singers substituted “English” for “Theater,” immediately signaling to the crowd that the showcase had no pretention of faithfully and sacredly reproducing every note. (For timing or symbolic purposes, the company did not perform the song’s segue into “It Sucks to Be Me.”) Following this was a series of solo and small ensemble works, performed in front of a faux-brick wall with lights strung up on top. This casual, close-knit, coffee shop atmosphere was reinforced by sparse lighting cues (save for in one number) and a cooperative audience, who cheered and laughed even when nothing too funny was happening. Both the 7 pm show was a sell-out, a testament to how much students wanted to see their friends’ final hurrahs.

In contrast to the ensemble pieces’ overt themes of graduation, many of the individual songs were fun showpieces that paid tribute to favorite shows. Sam Balzac’s rendition of “I Believe” from The Book of Mormon was a real crowd-pleaser because of Balzac’s high range, and because Balzac is definitely not a Mormon.  But works from less popular musicals such as Closer Than Ever and Heathers also found their ways onto the program. Two actresses also performed monologues, bringing variety and more personal choice to the repertoire of the evening. The most musically exciting performer was April Cho, whose clean and virtuosic voice brought to life the two songs in which she performed.

When the company came back together to close out, it was to Spring Awkening’s “Totally Fucked.” The performance’s choreography (if it could be described so graciously) grew wilder with every refrain until the intentionally awkward dancing turned into full-blown and Carman-esque jumping and fist-pumping. The performers took the song’s promise that “the weirdest shit is still to come” as an optimistic promise. Finishing the show was a return to Avenue Q, this time to its final tune, For Now. The ambiguous number acknowledges that, while the pain and compromise in life are temporary, so is everything good also fleeting. The cast solved the ambiguity with their most enheartened dancing of the night, and with plastered smiles which the audience couldn’t help but find hilarious. Their Columbia theater careers are over. While their futures (with B.A.’s in Theater or otherwise) are uncertain, they at least for a night overcame the melancholy of graduation.

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