Written by Bwog Staff
Wednesday evening, I listened to the premiere of CMTS’s Autumn Songs, playing in Roone Alredge Auditorium. The powerful vocal cast, striking set, and extraordinary music kept a show lacking in plot from withering like the winter, but blossoming like the spring.
Following two couples in 1930’s Marion, South Carolina, Autumn Songs attempts to capture the feelings of love, loss, and homecoming through a total of 32 songs. With such an impressive undertaking, it makes sense that the plot may take the back seat to the enormous catalog that director Alex Hare, CC ’13, and musical arranger Solomon Hoffman, CC ’14, draw from. Despite a few clichéd or unrealistic scenes depicting the racist south or a dream sequence, Autumn Songs should be appreciated and loved for what it is–a musical revue. As much as the production team may resist, Autumn Songs: A Musical, is a musical revue. And a great one at that!
Hoffman’s almost seamless manipulation of the music as it progresses through summer, autumn, and fall, truly shines when brought to life by the incredible cast. Devin Lloyd, CC ’15, dominates the show, playing vulnerable, confident, and loving with ease. Tommy Doyle’s, Marymount Manhattan ’15, character development shines as he progresses from ensemble member to Lee Ramsey, the preacher who falls in love. Jenny Singer’s, BC ’15, amazing voice more than made up for her slightly awkward stage presence. And Zach Vargas-Sullivan, CC ’14, completely stole the show with a nearly flawless performance.
The show occasionally falls flat in its lack of dynamic movement. Ensemble members often found themselves stagnant onstage. At one point the entire ensemble found themselves seated with their backs to the audience, motionless, despite the rousing number playing around them. Hare’s direction certainly creates powerful and gorgeous moments; however, they lack the profound fluidity that the music so wonderfully captures. Nevertheless, of those stage pictures of true beauty are abundant, none compare to the complete spectacle that is the finale of Autumn Songs. It sent shivers down my spine and remains one of the most awe inspiring moments of theater I have seen on campus.
Perhaps the greatest example of Autumn Songs’ quality is the main argument that arose with theater goers following the show. After the curtain closed, factions among the audience arose as we debated an article of clothing. Allie Carieri’s, CC’15, hat was fabulous and a fiend. It stole every scene it was in, yet it was far too perfect for the show to ever lose such a magnificent hat.
Autumn Songs may have faced many a set back during its production as songs were added and cut as the show grew, but the clear guidance of Hare and Hoffman backed by CMTS has created an amazing piece of theater which was truly a joy to hear.
Autumn Songs is showing again tonight at 8 pm in Roone. Tickets are $5 with CUID, $10 without.